Year in Review: Senior Open offered national exposureWritten by Mike Bauman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
After more than two-and-a-half decades of locals being treated to seeing some of the best female golfers in the world come to Toledo each summer for the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic, 94,000 fans received an even rarer treat in July when Inverness Club hosted the U.S. Senior Open for the first time since 2003.
“We were very pleased with the support that the community provided for the championship,” said Judd Silverman, who served as the 2011 U.S. Senior Open Championship Director. “It’s always a bonus when Inverness lends itself to host a major golf championship. There are so many benefits that come with a championship of this size in the Senior Open, both economically and national exposure.”
The brains behind the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic—which took a one-year hiatus in 2011 due to economic concerns about Toledo hosting two major golf tournaments in the same summer—Silverman said approximately 2,000 volunteers helped make everything come together at this year’s Senior Open. According to Destination Toledo President Rich Nachazel, the event generated between $ 9-12 million in visitor revenues as well as a little more than 3,000 hotel room nights being used during the week of the tournament.
The Senior Open also had quite the finish as Olin Browne was the first wire-to-wire champion of the tournament since Dale Douglass in 1986. On the final day of competition, Mark O’Meara shared the lead with Browne three times.
“In hindsight, the only disappointment was that Tom Watson and Fred Couples and Greg Norman elected not to play in the championship,” Silverman said. “That really is the only negative I can think of.”
In 2012, major championship golf will continue in Toledo when the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic returns with a new name—the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic—at Highland Meadows Golf Club Aug. 6-12. Since 1984, there have only been two years (1986 and 2011) that the tournament has not taken place in an event that has become the largest sporting attraction in the area, drawing over 70,000 spectators.
“One thing we did was we did increase our purse [by] $300,000 over 2010,” Silverman said of this year’s Jamie Farr Toledo Classic, which will have a first place purse of $1,300,000, a substantial increase from the $175,000 purse in 1984’s inaugural tournament. “We did that with the intention of trying to draw the best field that we possibly can, and we feel like we’re positioned well in the LPGA schedule. That will also help us draw a quality field.”
Despite the heat and a few of the best and most popular senior golfers in the world not participating, Silverman thought Inverness displayed its viability as a host for major championship golf with the U.S. Senior Open.
“I think Inverness once again proved to be an excellent venue in terms of the golf course and the infrastructure for staging the event from a corporate hospitality perspective, parking perspective [and] a viewing perspective,” Silverman said. “I think it’s got to be one of the top courses in America as far as playability and having the infrastructure that it takes to host a major championship.”