Dodgers Justin Turner Makes a Splash in Blue…and on the Green
As a kid, Justin Turner spent his Friday nights playing Hartwell Golf Course when the Long Beach course would close so kids could have their own time. Nowadays, he’s closing down Sherwood Country Club for the Justin Turner Golf Classic. Turner, the All-Star third baseman for the Dodgers, has made a philanthropic impact wherever he’s been. But when the Dodgers signed him in 2014, his efforts meant so much more. Turner’s unmistakable flowing red hair and passion for helping others has been a big hit, not far from where he was born and raised in Long Beach.
“It just means a little bit more,” Turner said. “It’s not like trying to run a foundation and do stuff in New York or Chicago or Miami, where there is probably a lot of need for help and charity. But to be able to do where I grew up just makes it a little more important.”
Justin and his wife Kourtney are co-founders of the Justin Turner Foundation, which benefits homeless veterans and children with serious illnesses and their families. They’ve hosted the golf tournament, which has blossomed into an ever-improving and popular event, for the last three years.
“This is important to us because it’s the first thing we ever did for the Justin Turner Foundation,” Turner said. “Clint Carlton from the Dream Center came to us and had the idea: ‘Hey, we want to do a golf tournament to raise money for the men’s Dream Center they opened up a couple years back.’ That’s where the foundation really got started. Just to see it grow each and every year is gratifying and the support is bigger and bigger. People want to get involved and want to donate stuff to make it an even better experience every year … it has been pretty overwhelming.”
The tournament has attracted major champion Dustin Johnson, Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn and many Dodger greats, including Hall of Famer Orel Hershiser. It’s growing because the Turners are constantly thinking about bells and whistles to add.
“Justin and Kourtney are very active in the golf tournament. They do all of the day-to-day operations. That’s not known,” said Clint Carlton, director of public relations for the Dream Center L.A. and a good friend of Turner’s. “No one else usually does that. Justin wants to make sure that everything he does is absolutely perfect, from hitting and fielding to his golf tournament to passing out toys to kids. He does everything himself and that’s what’s so cool about Justin and Kourtney.”
Turner and Carlton work closely on fundraising activities and visits to the Dream Center, where most of the proceeds from the golf tournament are geared. Turner has a hand in everything his foundation does. An example: two nights before the tournament this year, Carlton, along with Justin and Kourtney, stuffed the gift bags, which included his bobblehead, while listening to country music. During the second inning of each Dodger home game, Turner gives a signed ball and handshake as he thanks the military serviceman or woman who is honored at every home game. He was on hand to open a new women’s veteran home, that can house 18 women, and provide them with shelter, skills and education, in May. He knows his way around a country club, too.
“That’s Justin Turner. He’s like a chameleon,” Carlton said. “He adapts everywhere he goes.”
This year, Turner played in his tournament for the first time with teammates Chase Utley, Chris Taylor and friend Ceasar Ramos. The tournament is held in January after the weekend of FanFest in Los Angeles. That’s by design, as so many of his teammates are already in town. The 4th annual event will be Jan. 28, 2019 at Sherwood Country Club.
“I had no idea, but we learned a lot about it trying to learn from each one we do and get better from it and make the next one even better,” Turner said of starting the tournament. “It’s definitely been an eye-opening experience, the amount of work that goes into these events and the amount of organization and detail that goes into it. Actually, Kourtney does the majority of that stuff. She’s amazing. There’s no way it would be as successful as it is if it wasn’t for Kourtney.”
This past year, there was a million-dollar shootout and an Aston Martin car giveaway for a hole-in-one. No one won those prizes, but so many are winning with Turner’s golf tournament. Closing down a golf course is still so rewarding.