Altvater: Jamie Farr passes Toledo Classic baton to MarathonWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
The celebrity-hosted PGA tournaments from years past — Bob Hope, Sammy Davis Jr., Andy Williams, Glenn Campbell, even Bing Crosby — have all given way to golf tournaments with corporate names.
The economics of the times dictate that tournament directors find corporations with deep pockets that can guarantee the huge purses necessary to draw the top players to their event and also bring television coverage that can reach millions of fans around the world.
Now it is Toledo’s turn.
The Jamie Farr Toledo Classic LPGA golf tournament, held annually since 1983, will have Marathon Petroleum as its title sponsor beginning this year.
Toledo Classic Inc. announced the change Jan. 8. The tournament will now be officially called the Marathon Classic presented by Owens Corning & O-I.
This is tremendous news for Toledo.
Marathon Petroleum is a Northwest Ohio corporation located in Findlay. It is an oil refining, marketing and pipeline transport operation with six oil refineries in the United States. It has annual revenues of $80 billion and is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol MPC.
Toledo Classic Inc. and Marathon signed a three-year contract that will be annually renewable after 2015.
“This is tremendous news for the LPGA and the loyal golf fans of Northwest Ohio,” said LPGA Tour Commissioner Michael Whan in a news release. “Marathon Petroleum is an extremely successful and well-respected company and we are excited to welcome them to the LPGA family. Our players have always enjoyed playing in Northwest Ohio and now thanks to Marathon’s title sponsorship, fans across the globe will get to see the LPGA’s stars at one of their favorite tournaments.”
The 2013 Marathon Classic will be held July 15-21 at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania and will offer a total purse of $1.3 million.
Longtime tournament director Judd Silverman and his team at the Toledo Classic have done a great job over the years of bringing a first-class golf tournament to Toledo. The addition of Marathon will add stability and a solid financial foundation to the LPGA event and allow the tournament to be viewed by millions of golf fans around the world.
The main focus of the annual golf tournament has been its contribution to Toledo area children’s charities. The 2012 Jamie Farr Toledo Classic was able to generate $300,000 for this purpose and with Marathon coming on board as the title sponsor future charitable donations are expected to increase.
“We are thrilled to have such a successful and respected partner as the title sponsor of the Toledo Classic,” Silverman said. “The addition of Marathon will allow increased contributions to Toledo area children’s charities and will provide international television coverage via the Golf Channel to over 160 countries.”
Jamie Farr, a Toledo native and the celebrity face of the event since its inception, said he is thrilled with the addition of Marathon as the new title sponsor.
“Because of pending show business concerns which may prevent me from hosting the tournament in the future, I have decided to pass the baton to Marathon,” Farr said in the release.
“I am proud to be one of the founders of this tournament and am very proud of everything the tournament has accomplished over the past 28 years,” Farr said. “I will always appreciate the loyal and generous support of our faithful sponsors, volunteers, fans, media and LPGA golf professionals and I extend a special thanks to all of them. The tournament has become a wonderful tradition in Northwest Ohio and I know it will continue to do great things for the community and local children’s charities. Please extend to Marathon your generous support which you so devotedly gave to me.”
When Silverman endeavored to bring a golf tournament to Northwest Ohio in the early 1980s, he knew he needed a big name to get the LPGA to take his proposal seriously.
Through a local connection, Silverman was able to bring Farr on board as tournament host.
Farr enjoyed a successful acting career as Cpl. Max Klinger, the dress-wearing company clerk on the mega-hit television show “M*A*S*H.” Dinah Shore had just gotten Farr to begin playing the game of golf and he had become hooked on the game. Farr accepted the challenge as tournament host and began a love affair with Toledo area golf fans.
He became the face of the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic and annually traveled back to Toledo from his home in California to attend events and host the golf tournament.
Toledo Classic Board Chairman Richard Hylant expressed the board’s appreciation for Farr in the release, stating: “On behalf of the Board of Trustees of Toledo Classic, Inc. we want to express our deep appreciation and gratitude to Jamie for everything he has done over the years.
“Jamie’s contributions and loyal support over the past 28 years cannot be overstated as the tournament and the community have been affected immeasurably by his involvement,” Hylant said. “With great enthusiasm and as a reflection of everything that Jamie has meant to the tournament and the community, Toledo Classic Inc. has permanently named the scholarship fund the “Jamie Farr Scholarship Fund” to preserve Jamie’s legacy with the tournament.”
Farr has provided more than anyone could have expected over the years as the Toledo Classic host. He has been gracious with his time and a pleasure to work with.
The contribution that Mr. Farr has made to the Toledo area through his work with the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic is immense.
Toledo area business as well as golf fans will be forever in his debt.