Fr. Brandon Dang took up golf in the seminary in 2013, and he got hooked.
A few months later, however, he injured his back in a car accident and had to hang up his clubs as he recuperated.
As fate would have it, he was back to playing regularly in 2021 — just in time for the Serra Club of Orange County’s annual Msgr. John Sammon Memorial Golf Outing, which is free to priests, deacons, sisters and brothers.
He’s planning to play a third year on a team of four at this year’s 16th running of the event, on Sept. 18, at the Tustin Ranch Golf Club.
MSGR. JOHN SAMMON WAS ORANGE COUNTY’S OLDEST PRIEST AND A CHAPLAIN TO FIREFIGHTERS FOR MORE THAN 60 YEARS WHEN HE DIED AT AGE 90 IN NOVEMBER 2006. PHOTO COURTESY OF FR. CHRISTPHER HEATH
“Even if it means I’ll make a fool of myself,” said Fr. Brandon, “I’ll still participate. It’s a great time.”
He’s being modest.
Fr. Brandon, a priest in residence at San Francisco Solano Catholic Church in Rancho Santa Margarita, is a decent golfer.
And beyond the fun times, the annual golf tournament is close to his heart.
‘A GREAT TIME’
The Serra Club, established in 1935, is a global association of over 1,800 individuals in 46 countries that is dedicated to fostering vocations to the ministerial priesthood and religious life in the Roman Catholic Church.
Since 2019, in addition to his parish duties, Fr. Brandon has served as vocations director for the Diocese of Orange.
“It makes perfect sense that I would support this golf tournament,” he said.
Maureen Kosinski, a 54-year parishioner at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Tustin, would be happy to hear that. She’s in charge of whipping up support for this year’s golf tournament, which over the years has lost some regulars due to old age and death.
Relative youngsters like Fr. Brandon, who went to high school in Aliso Viejo, are eager to fill the void.
“It’s a great time, especially when you play as part of a group,” he said.
SERRA CLUB MEMBERS DIANE SALINGER, LILY HANSON AND MAUREEN KOSINSKI GATHER FOLLOWING MORNING MASS ON AUG. 9 AT ST. CECILIA CATHOLIC CHURCH IN TUSTIN. PHOTO BY STEVE GEORGES/DIOCESE OF ORANGE
Fr. George Blais, senior priest at St. Catherine of Sienna Catholic Church in Laguna Beach, has been a priest in Orange County for 33 years and is a big fan of the golf tournament, having participated in it more than a half-dozen times.
“It’s always been a great day of fun,” he said. “I always look forward to playing.”
Kosinski, an accomplished skier in her younger years, is praying that other priests, deacons and religious will sign up. After all, the single-player fee of $186 is covered by the generosity of donors and members of the Serra Club of Orange County, which started the event as a thank you to those who run parishes in Orange County.
“This is our club’s biggest event of the year,” said Kosinski, who during her time at St. Cecilia’s has been involved in the pastoral council and has served as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. She’s also been involved with bingo, Lenten supper and is a 28-year member of a Monday morning prayer group.
CHANGE OF VENUE
The namesake of the golf tournament, Msgr. John Sammon, was Orange County’s oldest priest and a chaplain to firefighters for more than 60 years when he died at age 90 in November 2006.
Msgr. Sammon was Kosinski’s pastor for several years when she and her family relocated to Orange County in the late 1960s.
For the first few years, the tournament was held at Western Hills Country Club in Chino Hills. But after participants got tired of the long and windy drive on Carbon Canyon Road, Kosinski said, the event was moved to the more easily accessible Tustin Ranch Golf Club.
The $186 fee for the golf tournament – anyone is welcome to play – includes the greens fee, golf cart, a box lunch and dinner.
The format is four-person scramble, where players shoot from the closest ball to the tee. Awards are given to winning foursome, longest drive and closest to the pin.
Kosinski, who played golf for 17 years but doesn’t play regularly anymore, notes that a donation of $186 will sponsor a priest, deacon, brother or sister, and is tax deductible.
Fr. Dang says he plays golf nearly every week with three other regulars: Fr. Duy Le, pastor of San Francisco Solano Catholic Church in Rancho Santa Margarita; Fr. Michael Nguyen, parochial administrator of Santa Clara de Asis Catholic Church in Yorba Linda; and Fr. Aristotle Quan, parochial vicar at St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Dana Point.
As vocation director for the Diocese, Fr. Dang’s office sponsors each June a basketball game for priests and deacons.
But there’s something special about getting outside on the green, he said.
Fr. George agrees.
“It’s free, it’s a nice day out, it’s a nice dinner,” he said. “And it’s a great opportunity for us to meet with members of the Serra Club of Orange County, who are all such good people.”
To register for the 16th Annual Msgr. John Sammon Memorial Golf Outing, email Maureen Kosinski at [email protected] or call 714-309-3206.