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April 20 - The Champions Visit Long Island

Tell a friend.

That was the main message from Ric Clarson, the Champions Tour Senior Vice President of Business
Development.  Clarson was in town to help promote the one remaining event for the over-50 set in the
Tri-State Area.  He would love for the Commerce Bank Championship to take root at Eisenhower Park’s
beautiful Red Course.

The Champions Tour may not have Greg Norman just yet.  Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus do not play
regularly. However, the Tour still has a ton of fantastic golf to offer to sports fans in our area.  The event
takes place in the middle of Nassau County in East Meadow, which is a stones throw from the
Roosevelt Field Mall if you want to pack in some shopping either before or after you attend the event.  

This tournament has taken its lumps over the years and if not for Commerce Bank stepping in two years
ago to become the title sponsor, this event would have disappeared just like the Cadillac/NFL Golf
Classic that took place in New Jersey at the Upper Montclair Country Club.  Fans need to go out and
support the event on Long Island.  You can witness great golf by some of the legends of the game.  Lee
Trevino, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, Fuzzy Zoeller, Craig Stadler and Peter Jacobsen are scheduled to attend.  
Plus you can watch other pros who have found new life on the Champions Tour.

The tournament takes place the last week of June and stretches into the July 4th holiday weekend.  The
organizers understand that it is be tough drawing fans but they have been imaginative in their effort to
re-invent the tournament.  Tournament Director Brian Kemp takes over for Jack Russell, who did a
marvelous job running the event since it began in 1988 as the Northville Invitational.  Kemp says that
they want to promote a family first atmopshere on and off the golf course.  The so-called “week of fun for
everyone” includes a family fun village with travelling magicians, balloon tying and face painting for the
kids.  Plus, the younsters can hit oversized golf balls with Nerf targets.  There will be swing analyzers
and long drive contests for golfers of any age.  And be sure to make plans to sit in the stands by the 16th
green.  The tournament staff is working on giving out a prize for every birdie the pros make on that tough
little par 3.  Then there is the  big drawing card besides the golf - the fireworks show on Saturday, July
2nd.  

What this tournament has to do is convince the golf fans to give up a day or two of playing golf at their
own club or public course and come out to the tournament.  It is an event that is played in a public park
on a public course that you and I can show up pay a greens fee and play.  It is a great walk.  There are
no steep hills, so if you are in decent shape you can follow your own group around the entire golf course.

Sure, New Yorkers tend to have a big time mentality.  They think that if it is not the U.S. Open at
Shinnecock or Bethpage Black and the stars of the show are not Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Retief
Goosen, Ernie Els or Vijay Singh, then it is not worth spending a few bucks to stop by and watch these
older pros tee it up.  I say that is nonsense.  It is time to drop the attitude and time to drop a few dollars
and support a great charity (Schneider Children’s Hospital) and watch some fantastic golf.

And remember. After you read this column...

Tell a friend!