The first snow, the last tournament: Central Illinois Charity Classic dissolves on LPGA Tour
That dreaded first snowfall arrived on Dec. 9suspect that a few more rounds might truly be stolen in western New York, but the consistent call to play is now restricted to golf domes and simulator locations.
The same day, I received a press release on the dissolution of the Central Illinois Charity Classic, an event with a lineage of 36 years, on the LPGA Tour. After 16 years named the Rail (for the host course) Charity Classic, the event was able to latch on to State Farm Insurance in 1993 and continue its event in Springfield, Ill. State Farm underwrote the tournament for another 19 years until announcing that it would step aside in 2012. Unable to find a replacement sponsor for the next running, the board of directors released a pithy statement, announcing that the grand finale had taken place.
Springfield joins the ranks of Corning (NY) and many other smaller urban areas with an ignominious shared claim: they’ve lost big-stage golfing events over the years. These communities would never attract a professional team from the NBA, NFL, NHL or MLB, but they were able to pool their resources and host professional golf events. On the heels of the best lady and men golfers in the USA and parts of the world came television and press attention, focusing an uncommon spotlight on a slice of Americana, if only for a week each year. At times, these events felt like “It’s A Wonderful Life” on the other 364 days of the year, the days they didn’t film Jimmy Stewart and his cast from Bedford Falls.
Without a role call of facts that led to the demise of the CICC, fans of the LPGA tour are left to wonder which socio-economic factors contributed most to the decision to end the tournament. For certain, Springfield will miss the presence of winners like Joanne Carner, Nancy Lopez and Beth Daniel in early years, and Annika Sorenstam, Christie Kerr and Yani Tseng, the final champion, for one week each year, not to mention the dollars that the event brought to local charities, businesses and families.
|« Major Championships and Generations||Cross Golf USA: A fine line of apparel »|