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Blue Jays hold 18th annual charity Golf Classic

BOND HEAD, Ontario -- Like many people on their off-day, the Blue Jays took to the links on Monday as part of the club's 18th annual charity Golf Classic.

All the team's players and coaches, along with some alumni, were at The Club at Bond Head In support of Jays Care Foundation.

Decked out in golf gear, the players looked the part, although some, like slugger Jose Bautista, have yet to master the sport.

"I'm not that good," Bautista, who admitted if it wasn't for the tournament you likely wouldn't have caught him at the golf course on his off-day, said with a smile. "I've played a couple of times, but I haven't got the feel for it yet."

Although none of the players are likely to drop baseball and become a professional golfer, it did add a certain appeal and fun for the 78 foursomes in attendance, with all of them having a chance to play alongside a current or former Blue Jay.

"It's a chance to really get to know a player," executive director of Jays Care Rob Drynan said. "[After] you play a round of golf with a ball player you're probably going to have a good understanding of who they are. It's big. You don't [usually] get those opportunities to get that kind of proximity with players."

The day started with a light breakfast and a few practice swings on the driving and putting range before a player draft took place to determine who would be paired with whom.

R.A. Dickey joked beforehand that he just hoped to be "thrown in with a good foursome."

It was a nice relaxing afternoon for many, but even for those not draining birdies, it was a day that went far beyond the number of strokes you took.

"It's for an incredible cause," Dickey said. "The Blue Jays and Jays Care Foundation are so instrumental in impacting the lives of other people. It's nice to be a part of that."

"The Blue Jays do a great number of things throughout Canada with Jays Care Foundation. I'm glad to be a part of it, and glad I'm able to help out in any way," Bautista added.

Jays Care, the 2012 recipient of the MLB Commissioner's Award for Philanthropic Excellence, has raised over $1.7 million just from their Gala in May and Monday's golf classic.

The tournament itself is expected to generate upwards of $650,000 for the charitable arm of the Blue Jays -- far surpassing the $480,000 from last year -- and will go to several of the Jays Care programs, as well as towards flood relief in Calgary, Alberta.

"We look at our role as a way for the club to contribute back into the community and across the country," Drynan said.

In season, the players have very little free time, and the golf tournament is a rare opportunity where the whole team gets to actively participate in one of Jays Care's events.

It was something Dickey didn't take for granted.

"It's an opportunity to use the platform of Major League Baseball to go beyond the baseball field," Dickey said. "I think it would be a tragedy if all that we were ever known for was being a baseball player."

"It's a chance for everyone to give back a little bit and raise some money that helps a lot of people," manager John Gibbons said. "We get spoiled in our end of the business. Everything's handed to you, and people are waiting on you hand and foot. It's good to reverse that and give back a little bit."

Evan Peaslee is an associate reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @EvanPeaslee.

Toronto Blue Jays