Friday at The Farr: Klinger’s Club to debut on 14th holeWritten by Morgan Delp | | firstname.lastname@example.org
What do you get when you mix the fun, festive atmosphere of Mud Hens’ Opening Day with a professional golf tournament?
You get “Friday at The Farr,” the 14th hole at the 2012 Jamie Farr Toledo Classic presented by Kroger, Owens Corning and O-I at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania.
On Aug. 10, the local Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tournament will introduce a new “party atmosphere” to its 14th hole in imitation of the famed par-3 16th hole at the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA) Waste Management Phoenix Open at Tournament Players Club Scottsdale. That tournament takes place in Arizona in February each year.
The hole will be called “Klinger’s Club,” after Toledo native Jamie Farr’s character on the television show “M*A*S*H,” and will be part of the Friday at the Farr festivities, which begin at 1 p.m. Aug. 10.
“We want it to be kind of like … (Mud Hens) Opening Day, where if the game is at three or even if it’s at five, people are Downtown partying in the streets at 12 o’clock,” said Stephen Vasquez, membership development manager at the Toledo Chamber of Commerce and one of the two event organizers. “It’s kind of turned into a Downtown Toledo holiday.”
The par-3 hole will feature bleacher seating for approximately 400 people, an electronic scoreboard and a large concession stand nearby with food and beverages. T-shirts will be distributed to create a “white-out,” like those at basketball and football games.
Fans are encouraged to cheer, chant and sing at the golfers, like fans at the Waste Management (WM) Phoenix Open do, Vasquez said. According to the Klinger’s Club’s Facebook page, the goal is to make the 14th hole the “loudest and most exciting hole on the LPGA tour.”
Vasquez said “cheerleaders” and “cheat sheets” of player information are in the works to help make this happen.
“If you watch the Phoenix Open, [the fans] are really quiet, but as soon as the ball is hit, they scream like crazy,” Vasquez said. “We’re going to encourage cheering.”
Admission to Klinger’s Club is included in admission price. Daily tickets start at $15 and are available at the gate or Shawn’s Irish Tavern, which is also providing shuttle service. Weekly tickets are $50 and are available at local Kroger stores. Kids 17 and younger get in free with an adult. More ticket information is available online at the web site www.jamiefarrtoledoclassic.com.
Once the last golfer finishes her round at approximately 7 p.m. Aug. 10, the local band Nine Lives will play at the public pavilion as a grand finale to Friday at the Farr. Nine Lives is a cover band that plays everything from Journey to Eminem to The Temptations, said Franz Gilis, the other co-organizer of Klinger’s Club.
Vasquez said Klinger’s Club is an event that many people, not just traditional golf fans, can enjoy.
“If you don’t even like golf, who cares? Just come to party,” Vasquez said.
There were many motives behind the Klinger’s Club initiative, including simply offering a good time for fans and golfers alike, Vasquez said.
“It’s one of those things where [the tournament] is not quite at the level of (Mud Hens) Opening Day yet,” Vasquez said. “For most people, the Jamie Farr is … like ‘If I get tickets, I’ll go,’ but we want it to be ‘I’m going to the Jamie Farr this year!’”
The tournament’s net proceeds go to 10 area children’s charities, said Judd Silverman, tournament chairman for 27 years.
“It’s for a good cause,” Silverman said. “Since 1984, the Jamie Farr has donated $7.4 million to more than 100 Northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan children’s charities.”
Silverman said tournament organizers wanted to create a gathfranzering and networking spot for young business professionals and Vasquez and Gilis had the idea to model a hole after the WM Phoenix Open’s.
“What we’re trying to create is a special event for the business community to gather and have a great afternoon of watching golf, while also interacting with fellow business professionals from the area,” Silverman said. “The goal is to get the business community to take the afternoon off and come out and be a part of the hole’s festivities.”
Vasquez said a successful Friday at the Farr will mean more exposure for Toledo, which will help the area attract future events and sponsorships.
“It would be cool if we got a lot of people to come out to this,” Vasquez said. “Even if we increase Jamie Farr’s attendance by one or two thousand, all that stuff builds up and puts Toledo on the map … and shows we can really rally around an event and support it.”
Vasquez said this will show Toledo can support major sporting events and may even help give the area the opportunity to host higher-level events, like the PGA U.S. Open.
“Those events don’t just decide in October to come here in August. They’re planned a few years out,” Vasquez said. “There’s a lot of factors that go into that decision.”
Among the factors are city infrastructure, potential company sponsorships and a supportive fan base, Vasquez said.
Vasquez said Klinger’s Club will also promote the tournament, the LPGA and the sport of golf in the Toledo area, complementing an LPGA initiative to build its brand.
“Over the course of the last five or six years [the LPGA has been] trying to get its golfers out there more to build more of a brand, like a Tiger Woods or a Phil Mickelson,” Vasquez said. “Fans will then come out to LPGA events to follow their favorite golfer and not just to follow golf.”
The WM Phoenix Open’s 16th hole has often been referred to as “a party where a golf tournament breaks out.”
However, the party began with humble beginnings.
Tom Altieri, 2013 WM Phoenix Open tournament chairman, said the Phoenix Open moved to Scottsdale in 1986, and the lively atmosphere developed naturally when fans, especially college students, started congregating by the hole and nearby beer stand.
In 1997, Tiger Woods hit a hole-in-one on the 16th, which Altieri said created an electric atmosphere that has grown into a vacation destination that attracts 16,000 people and the world’s top-tier performing artists. One hundred and fifty corporate skyboxes sell for $40,000 each, Altieri said.
What has made the WM Phoenix Open’s par-3 “party hole” so successful is the players’ willingness to embrace it, Altieri said.
“The players themselves have really embraced the energy and atmosphere of the hole and that has really helped it grow,” Altieri said. “In order for it to succeed the players have had to embrace it, and they have, … and they tend to do better on that hole.”
Altieri said players pass out merchandise to the crowd while it sings the fight songs of the golfers’ alma maters, for example. One golfer even encouraged noise from the crowd.
“We had one player who didn’t want quiet. He was egging the crowd on to make noise,” Altieri said. “The crowd obliged and it was pretty cool.”
Chris Erblich, an attorney from Phoenix who attended the WM Phoenix Open in 2005, said even though he is not a golf fan it was exciting for him to witness the events on the 16th hole.
“As soon as the ball is in the air, the crowd screams, or boos in the case of a bad shot. It’s a loud, party-time atmosphere,” Erblich said. “Some golfers think it’s great, while some have complained the expectation is unnerving, but it’s cool and fun and different.”
Altieri said other tournaments have asked about creating a similar experience he tells them that a controlled environment with communication to players is vital for a successful “party hole.” Altieri said he suggests talking to the LPGA and its players about the idea ahead of time.
“I wish there was a magic formula, but there’s not,” Altieri said. “We’ve worked hard to keep an energy … and make sure the fans understand that these are professional golfers out there trying to earn a living. Fans have to be respectful of the players.”
Vasquez said Klinger’s Club organizers plan on reaching out to golfers through Facebook, Twitter and other connections to let them know what’s coming and ask them to get involved.
Sponsors for the event include Nemsys, The Image Group, Wholehan Marketing and Shawn’s Irish Tavern. Media sponsors are Toledo Free Press, NBC24, 101.5 FM The River and 92.5 KISS FM.
For more information on Klinger’s Club, visit www.facebook.com/KlingersClub.
Tags: 101.5 FM The River, 92.5 KISS FM, Franz Gilis, Friday at the Farr, Jamie Farr, Judd Silverman, Klinger's Club, Mud Hens, Nine Lives, Phoenix Open, Shawn’s Irish Tavern, Stephen Vasquez, Toledo Free Press