Club 14 injects rock ‘n’ roll spirit into golf tourneyWritten by Evan Brune | | firstname.lastname@example.org
One year ago, the 14th hole at the 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 its 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. This year’s event comes with a few changes, learned through trial and error; most notably, the name change.
“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 manager 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.
Tournament Director Judd Silverman said he hopes to see Club 14 grow.
“We’re very excited to build on that,” Silverman 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 white-out 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 background 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 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 be fun for 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.
Vasquez said another great aspect of last year’s event was the attendees’ ensembles.
“We had some pretty crazy outfits last year, so that’s something we’re encouraging this year,” he said.
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, Vasquez said.
“[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 shortage that occurred 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 a collaboration between myself, Franz [Gilis], Judd [Silverman] and a few other people. We wanted to figure out some way of getting more people out there,” Vasquez said. “We asked, ‘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,” Vasquez said.
Vasquez said their hope was to raise Toledo’s profile on the tour.
“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 this year are Nemsys, Cooperative Business Services, The Image Group, Toledo Free Press and WNWO.
Vasquez urges everyone to come to the 14th hole at Highland Meadows Golf Club.
“Buy a grounds pass. Party starts at noon. Show up, make your way back to the 14th hole,” he said. “Get a towel, and be loud.”
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/Club14Toledo.
Tags: Club 14, Highland Meadows Golf Club, Jamie Farr Toledo Classic, Judd Silverman, Lauren O'Neill, Marathon Classic, Owens Corning, Owens-Illinois, PGA Phoenix Open, Stephen Vasquez, Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce