Golf Tournament Honors Late Deputy

By: Eric Smith

PALMDALE - Don Self would have been right at home Monday afternoon at Antelope Valley Country Club.

But on a warm summer day filled with friends, laughter and golf, Self was the event's central figure, even if he was only there in spirit.

Nearly 125 participants turned out for the 15th Annual Deputy Don Self Integrity Club Golf Tournament, an annual scholarship fundraising event for the Valley's youth.

"Golf was one of his passions on the side," said Andrea Self, Don's wife for 14 years. "He would have been embarrassed about all of the attention but he would have loved this tournament."

Self, who passed away from bone cancer in 2000 at age 55, started the Integrity Club when he became the deputy at the Antelope Valley Mall.

While usual mall policies said that kids arrested for shoplifting would be banned from the premises, the kind-hearted Self spearheaded a more proactive approach.

"The kids had to write an essay on integrity, honesty and credibility," Andrea Self said. "They had to bring it back to him personally and he'd go through the letters.

"He would talk to them and if they had learned their lesson, he would allow them a second chance to come back to the mall."

The yearly golf tournament raises money for scholarships for a mix of local high school and Antelope Valley College students.

"They don't go to the 4.0 (GPA) kids," Andrea Self said. "They go to the kids who have made something out of their lives."

The idea for the tournament first came about when Self was diagnosed with cancer and a few deputies wanted to help raise money for him.

Self's legacy was apparent Monday as tournament co-chairman Jodi Wolfe described the impact the longtime deputy had on the Valley.

"He was very invested with the kids in the Antelope Valley," Wolfe said. "The kids he came in contact with were usually in trouble, whether it was shoplifting or a small crime.

"But those small crimes lead to bigger crimes so he took an interest in them and tried to guide them."

While roughly 100 of the golfers at Monday's tournament were deputies, not all of them knew who he was.

"I love the fact that there are guys here who worked with Don and are since long retired but come back every year," Andrea Self said. "But some of these kids are barely 25 and didn't know Don ... but that just speaks volumes to the man that he was."

John Sylvies, a retired deputy who worked with Self for roughly a decade, was quick to recall Self's friendly demeanor.

"He was a nice guy," Sylvies said. "Easygoing and quiet."

Some deputies traveled from all around Southern California to honor Self.

"My favorite part is the morning when everyone gets here and starts checking in," Wolfe said. "People come from everywhere to play in this and sometimes they haven't seen each other in a while.

"This tournament has a great reputation and we have the same players every year."

While groups of foursomes tried their hand over 18 holes, golfers also participated in a hole-in-one competition, longest drive contest and tested their skills on the putting green while wearing a pair of drunk goggles.

With more than 35 local sponsors pitching in, the crowd had lunch while participating in a silent auction and raffle. Prizes included golf quipment, video games and spirits among other items.

But the overriding theme was Self and his love for helping kids, his passion for being a rancher and his enjoyment of golf.

"There's a few serious golfers but not many," Andrea Self said. "It's mainly just knucklehead deputies who are out tearing up the course and having fun.

"It's more of a fun event than a serious one."

Story courtesy of AV Press