Silverman still excited to run FarrWritten by Mark Hensch | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Judd Silverman admits he still gets excited on the first day of the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic — even 25 years later.
The founder and director of the tournament was inspired by his love for the game when he came up with a tournament that would help his hometown of Toledo.
“I wanted to bring a sporting event to Toledo on an annual basis, which could raise money for local charities,” Silverman said. “Golf is a great game for people of all ages. I think the tournament has provided lots of excitement for the community.”
Back then, Silverman was a caddy for professional PGA golfer Craig Stadler and liked the idea of charity fundraisers that partnered golf with star-studded name value.
Wanting a similar endorsement for a charity tournament in Toledo, he sought out city native Farr. Silverman admired The “M*A*S*H” actor and was a big fan of the television show.
“I thought it was great [that] communities had these charitable tournaments with a celebrity element to them,” Silverman said. “Jamie is a very wonderful man who is very generous with his time. He is a great role model.”
Farr has just as many wonderful things to say about Silverman. In a June 19 e-mail, he stated that he got word of Silverman’s idea just after he started golfing.
Fresh off his stint on television, Farr had played as a celebrity player in the Dinah Shore LPGA tournament in Palm Springs, Calif.
He was receptive toward Silverman’s proposal, but his one condition was a tournament charter that guaranteed various children’s charities benefited, in particular the Ronald McDonald House.
“The rest is history,” Farr said.
“I am delighted that Judd got the idea 25 years ago to try to bring a major sporting event to our city of Toledo,” he said. “It takes people with vision to want to do something which may seem at the time impossible or improbable.”
Sandy White, the classic’s director of operations, said the tournament’s field of players will be one of the most talented this year, appropriate for its silver anniversary. The tournament runs June 29 through July 5 at Sylvania’s Highland Meadows Golf Club.
“It is shaping up to be the best field we have ever had,” White said. “The players have great personalities and will sign autographs until their hands fall off.”
Defending Farr classic champion Paula Creamer said in a June 23 e-mail, courtesy of her agent of record, Jay Burton, she met Silverman during her 2005 run in the classic. She hopes she can play in it “for many summers to come,” she said.
“Mr. Silverman is clearly a huge fan of the LPGA and someone who puts passion and pride into running this first-class event,” Creamer said. “It’s communities like Sylvania that have allowed the LPGA to enjoy success for nearly 60 years and we appreciate all that Mr. Silverman and his great staff do for us. This is one tour stop that ranks high on my ‘must play’ list every summer.”
Silverman said his main goal is fundraising for local children’s groups. Money from this year’s classic will go toward 12 area charities.
“I want to put on another first-class sporting event, while benefiting local children’s charities,” he said. “This has a positive economic impact on Toledo.”
Mike Thaman, CEO of Owens Corning and tournament golf chairman, said Silverman’s leadership has benefited Toledo. Even during economically “tough times,” local residents support Silverman’s efforts, he said.
“Judd is a wonderful human being,” Thaman said. “This tournament was built on his desire to do something great for Toledo. I really do believe this year’s tournament will be the best yet.”
Rob Powers, WTVG Channel 13’s sports director, said Silverman’s hard work is the reason the classic does so well each year. His devotion has made the classic a Toledo institution, Powers said.
“Judd works his tailbone off for that tournament,” the sports director said. “It is part of the fabric of the community now. If you ask the women of the LPGA, Judd Silverman is the Jamie Farr tournament.”
But Silverman said his passion for golf extends beyond the Jamie Farr. He directed May’s NCAA tournament at Toledo’s Inverness Club, and will work there again, when he helms the July 2011 U. S. Senior Open. Inverness hires Silverman’s company, Toledo Classic Inc., for each event, he said.
Silverman said his staff maintains 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours most weeks prior to an event. During the Jamie Farr, his staff works from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
At 53 years old, Silverman said he has no idea how long the classic will continue or how he would react if it were gone. He said his wife Lisa always enjoys each tournament, alongside the couple’s sons, 16-year-old Reed and 13-year-old Ben.
White said Silverman enjoys helping Toledo.
“Judd pulls this together,” White said. “He has been doing this for 25 years and he is always looking forward to next year.”