Club 14 to energize tournament for third yearWritten by Tom Konecny | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The 14th hole at the Marathon Classic, also known as Club 14, is entering its third year of delivering an amped-up atmosphere more commonly found in stadium sports.
What started as an idea to host business networking on the Friday of the tournament has now morphed into an exuberant party hole for fans and golfers. It’s fast becoming an event favorite where golf doesn’t necessarily follow tradition and where fans may not always behave themselves. Prizes are tossed into the stands, interaction is encouraged, cheering is a bit louder than usual and fun is improvised.
“It’s all in good fun,” said Tournament Director Judd Silverman. “It’s been a lot of fun to watch it grow and we’re hoping for a huge crowd out there. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon.”
The typically quiet spectators at a golf match offer notable contrast to more raucous crowds found in sports such as football, hockey or auto racing. So event organizers welcome Club 14’s enthusiasm and hope to win fans who may not be sure how to conduct themselves at a sport that’s known for having the ambiance of an outdoor library.
“Certainly for people who hadn’t been to the tournament before, this might be the reason they come out,” said Jim Decker, director of marketing.
This year, the Marathon Classic builds upon the success of prior years by introducing the new Labatt Blue Royale Party Deck, an elevated, covered platform with seating, TVs, and complimentary Labatt beer, drinks and snacks. Party deck tickets are $50 each, and Decker expects them to sell out on Friday due to the networking popularity. The Labatt Bear mascot may make an appearance as well.
Even the golfers themselves welcome Club 14’s fresh, new attitude toward the game, Silverman said, especially if it means drawing more people to the sport.
“The players have been tremendous and really embraced it,” he said. “It’s just one more great experience for the fans. It’s a little unique and fun.”
Although the crowd at Club 14 is much livelier and more energetic, it’s not as though the hole boasts no rules and an anything goes attitude.
“There’s still rules,” Decker said. “They’re certainly not cheering when players are hitting a shot. They don’t show any disrespect by booing. We have marshals out there to try and make sure they’re showing respect for the players. It’s just a much more lively atmosphere.”
The Club 14 concept originated with the PGA Tour’s Phoenix Open, and although one other LPGA event has tried something similar, Toledo’s was the first in the league.
Decker knew the idea had staying power during the first year when caddies — not just the golfers — had their brief moment to be stars and garner cheers.
“The first year we had it, some of the biggest roars were when one of the first caddy races took place,” Decker said. “There was a huge roar and the fans were really getting into it, and the caddies really got into it.”
Marathon Classic planners chose the 14th hole based on its logistics, and due to its ideal length.
“It works best on a par 3 [hole] so all the fans see the tee shot, and there’s more excitement,” Decker said. “Last year on Sunday of tournament week there was a hole-in-one.”
Club 14 lasts all day July 18, but crowd size and fervor seem to rise especially during the afternoon, Decker said.
There will also be a photobooth set up by local company twine.it.
If the Club 14 enthusiasm and addition of the party deck wasn’t enough, the Marathon Classic is also expanding its free active military, police and firefighter admission by offering an accompanying guest for free. Children 17 and younger also get in free with a paid adult.
For complete ticket information, visit marathonclassic.com or call (419) 531-3277.