HED: Palmer Home Tournament paved the way for Open
By Todd Vinyard
Before the U.S. Women's Open there was the Wendy's Palmer Home Pro-Celebrity Classic to bring top women golfers to Old Waverly Golf Course.
In 1988, Old Waverly began hosting the Palmer Tournament which later brought in LPGA stars to play in a Palmer Home benefit. The Columbus based Palmer Home is a Christian organization founded in 1895 which takes care of neglected, abused, and abandoned children.
Many of those LPGA players who participated in Palmer Classic's will return to West Point next week for the U.S. Women's Open.
"We started the Palmer Home charity golf tournament back in 1988, and later it became centered around the LPGA golfers," said George Bryan, Old Waverly's founder. "We just thought it would be a natural move to bring a national championship here. The Palmer Tournament helped bring the golfers to Old Waverly for six years, and that really helped us expose the women golfers to our course."
Seventeen LPGA golfers, including Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez and Tammie Green, played in four-person teams the pro-am format last year. Wendy's officials presented Palmer Home officials a check for $50,000 from the proceeds. Lopez and Green hosted a golf tips session attended by more than 100 people.
"When you do something right like the people at Old Waverly did, the Palmer Home Classic it is going to attract attention," said Green, a seven-time winner on the LPGA tour. "Players were able to see just how tremendous the course was, and that it was deserving of a major championship."
Last year's Palmer Classic drew several golfers wanting to play course before the Open. Will the players who participated in the Palmer Classics have an advantage?
"Having played the course before and seen it should help," LPGA golfer Cindy Figg-Currier said. "I'm looking forward to the Open being there, because the Palmer Home Tournament was always so well run. And the Palmer Home is a great cause."
The Palmer Home has an average of 75 children, seven sets of house parents in seven different cottage homes, and 20 or more full- or part-time staff.
Karen Cheshire, the Open championship director, said she feels a strong connection with the Palmer Home since it is a non-profit organization, as is the Open.
"It's great that the two entities can join together to achieve common goals," Cheshire said. "In the event the 1999 Women's Open shows a profit, the net proceeds will benefit Mississippi charities. At this time no charities are being mentioned, because until the championship's conclusion, we're not positioned to state the net proceeds nor the name of benefiting charities."
U.S. Women's Open
When: May 31-June 6
Where: Old Waverly Golf Course, West Point
Tickets: Daily - $10 for practice rounds (May 31-June 2). $18 for championship rounds (June 3-June 6). Season Pass - $75. Flex Book - $150. All children 15 and under are admitted free to the championship when accompanied by a paying adult.
Ticket or volunteer information: 1-888-495-1999 or 495-1999.
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