Club 14 adds spice to Marathon ClassicWritten by Evan Brune | | firstname.lastname@example.org
One year ago, the 14th hole at the LPGA’s Jamie Farr Toledo Classic erupted in cheers and chants as hundreds of party-loving golf spectators broke all audience rules. Now, they’re doing it again.
Club 14, formerly known as Klinger’s Club, is set to open their rule-free 14th hole at this year’s Marathon Classic presented by Owens Corning and Owens-Illinois on July 19, where audience members can join in on singing, screaming and beer-drinking.
The tournament, now the Marathon Classic, is now in its 28th year. Each year, the event proceeds go to various children’s charities in Northwest Ohio.
“It’s just been a great community event,” said Tournament Director Judd Silverman. “We’ve raised almost $8 million for over 100 Northwest Ohio children’s charities over the years.”
This year, the tournament will benefit 11 different charities, including Toledo Hearing & Speech Center, Special Olympics Ohio and the Jamie Farr Scholarship Fund of the Toledo Community Foundation.
The tournament field this year will consist of 156 of the top women golfers in the world.
“It’ll be great to bring the greatest women golfers in the world to Northwest Ohio. We’ve got 10 of the top 10 and 15 of the top 20, so that’s pretty good,” Silverman said. “Inbee Park is the real story this year. She just won the U.S. Women’s Open. She’s made $2.1 million [this year]. The next player has earned $881,000, so there’s quite a considerable gap there.”
Moving to Cincy?
Officials are quick to debunk a rumor that the Marathon Classic will move to Cincinnati in 2015.
“Most ridiculous statement I’ve ever heard. We (Toledo Classic Inc.) have a multiyear contract with Marathon,” Silverman said.
Kraig Kann, chief communications officer for the LPGA, said, “Marathon Petroleum is committed to the event in Toledo and is very excited about the new partnership and the upcoming event in two weeks. As for Cincinnati, we would love to find our way into that market as it is a fantastic sports community with great golf fans, but nothing is imminent at this time.”
Friday’s Club 14 comes with a few changes, learned through trial and error after its first year, most notably, the name change from Klinger’s Club to Club 14.
“We had to change the name because Jamie Farr got out of the game. We wanted a name that was not specific to a sponsor, so we don’t have to change it every year,” said Stephen Vasquez, membership development coordinator at the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce and one of the event’s organizers.
The amount of seating will also increase, going from 300-person capacity bleachers to 500-person capacity bleachers.
Silverman said he hopes to see Club 14 grow from last year’s attendance.
“We’re very excited to build on that,” he said. “We hope to double or triple the crowd out there on Friday afternoon this year.”
Instead of last year’s T-shirts, the first 300 people will receive golf towels.
“We tried to do a whiteout last year, but it didn’t work, because not enough people wore the T-shirts,” Vasquez said.
Vasquez said the organizers are doing research into the backgrounds of the golfers, looking up their hometowns and school chants.
“There was one girl who went to [University of] Alabama, so when she hit her tee shot, the whole crowd yelled, ‘Roll Tide!’” Vasquez said.
Another component of the 14th hole is caddy racing.
“Right after the golfers take their tee shots, everyone shouts for a caddy race, and they get really into it. Some of them drop their bags and just start running,” Vasquez said.
Vasquez said this year will have fun with the caddies as well as the golfers.
“We found out some things about the caddies, so we’ll have some joking fun with them,” he said.
Franz Gilis, one of the event organizers, said his favorite part is the banter back and forth between the crowd and the players.
“You’re sitting in the bleachers and talking to golfers who are making their salary at this,” he said.
Vasquez said another great aspect of last year were the outfits.
“We had some pretty crazy outfits last year, so that’s something we’re encouraging this year,” he said.
Vasquez said Shawn’s Irish Tavern, with locations in Toledo, Waterville and Sylvania, will present gift cards as prizes for competitions such as best dressed, craziest outfit and loudest group. Customers can also bring in their Marathon Classic ticket to any Shawn’s location on July 19 for 10 percent off their bill.
The event organizers are also reaching out to the golfers themselves, asking them to bring items to give to the crowd. The effort was a great success last year, according to Vasquez.
“[The golfers] interacted with the crowd really well. Last year, we were able to reach out to all the golfers,” he said. “Almost every girl brought something. If it’s in a golf bag, they brought it, and they just tossed it up.”
Silverman said the event was a big hit with the golfers last year.
“It was great. The players really embraced it, which was really fun to see,” he said. “They came prepared. They were throwing all sorts of stuff up into the crowd — golf balls and hats and beads and all sorts of things — so that made it a lot of fun that the players were having fun with it.”
Other changes to the event include the addition of four skyboxes.
“I don’t think they’ve ever done skyboxes on the 14th hole, so that’s pretty good for the second year,” Vasquez said.
Another change remedies a problem from last year.
“There will be more beer this year. Colder beer,” Vasquez said, laughing.
Last year’s event reached crisis level when the beer ran out for Klinger’s Club, leaving personnel scrambling for more.
“They were making emergency runs, and it was all warm beer,” Vasquez said.
Club 14 started last year as part of an effort to bolster the number of tournament attendees.
“It was really a collaboration between myself, Franz, Judd and a few other people. We wanted to figure out some way of getting more people out there,” Vasquez said. “We asked the question, ‘Well, what could we do that was different?’”
Vasquez and Gilis modeled their event after the PGA Phoenix Open’s 16th hole.
“At their 16th hole, there’s not much they don’t do. It’s very popular with people,” Vasquez said.
“We wanted to try to bring an event similar to the Mud Hens’ Opening Day,” Gilis said.
Vasquez said their hope was to get Toledo back on the map.
“Toledo has a golf history. We used to host the U.S. Open here,” Vasquez said. “If we could drive more people to like golf, maybe we could make Toledo more of a golf destination. It’d be really cool to have Toledo on the map as the loudest, craziest tournament.”
This year, Club 14 will also host the Huntington After Play Par-Tee next to the champion’s tent. Entertainment will be provided by the Aaron Stark Band. Club 14 sponsors are Nemsys, Cooperative Business Services, The Image Group, Toledo Free Press and WNWO.
Vasquez and Gilis urge everyone to come to the 14th hole.
“Take the day off of work, do whatever you have to do,” Gilis said. “Come out, meet your peers.”
“Buy a grounds pass. Party starts at noon. Show up, make your way back to the 14th hole,” Vasquez said. “Get a towel, and be loud.”
For more information on Club 14, visit www.facebook.com/Club14Toledo.