Without the encouragement of Norm Lacy, Danny Wax might never have played golf at Santa Monica High.
He might never have worked hard enough to continue his career in the collegiate ranks at the University of Denver, where he became one of the top Division I golfers in the country.
And he probably never would have had a chance to turn pro.
“He was the inspiration for me to even start playing golf,” Wax said.
Wax is among hundreds of former Samohi students and athletes whose lives were touched by Lacy, a beloved coach and athletic director who died of a heart attack in 2010 at the age of 56.
And Wax is now trying to honor Lacy’s legacy with a charity golf tournament, proceeds from which will be split between a memorial scholarship fund for local athletes and the Vikings boys golf team.
The tournament is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Monday, Nov. 16, at Robinson Ranch Golf Club in Santa Clarita.
The inaugural tournament, which Wax hopes to make an annual event, came about after the 2004 alumnus spoke with current Samohi boys golf coach Bart Burdick about paying tribute to Lacy.
“You don’t have to be a die-hard golfer,” Wax said. “We want to celebrate his life, raise money and make it a community-bonding event. You’ve got to start somewhere, and hopefully it grows from there.”
Tickets cost $175 per person or $600 for a group of four, and they include golf fees and raffle tickets as well as food. Raffle prizes include tickets to Lakers and Clippers games, golf memberships and credit for golf equipment, food and massages.
Wax, who studied business administration and entrepreneurship in college, seems uniquely positioned to organize the event. The company he launched earlier this year, Forelinx, partners with golf courses in the region to offer players course time at multiple sites for a monthly fee.
“We wanted to find a more affordable way for people to play more golf,” he said. “It’s kind of like gym membership for golf.”
Golf was a pastime and a mentorship vehicle for Lacy, a Texas native and Pacifica-Terra Nova product who was an offensive lineman at USC in the mid-1970s before pursuing a career in teaching and coaching.
After serving as an assistant football coach at Samohi, Lacy led St. Monica Catholic to a CIF Southern Section title in 1998. He then returned to the Vikings as head coach and helped them win a football championship in 2001. He also coached golf at the high school.
Whether on the gridiron or on the greens, Wax said, Lacy inspired students to see their own potential.
“He was just extremely encouraging,” he said. “He’d do anything [he] possibly could to help you get better. He was not only a presence on the golf course, but he was a natural motivator. … You think of golf as this laid-back sport where everyone whispers, but he really pushed you forward because you can beat yourself up out there.”
And Lacy’s support didn’t fade after Wax earned his diploma at Samohi.
“You have those friends for a really long time where you can go two years without speaking, and then you see them and it’s like no time has passed. That’s how it was with Lacy,” Wax said. “He made a conscious effort to stay in communication after you graduated. That’s a rare dynamic for any mentor or coach because once you leave their sphere, you think they’re onto the next. But he always remembered you, always had a story to tell you, always had a very personal approach.”
For more information about the tournament, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/1st-annual-norm-lacy-golf-memorial-tickets-18406349888.