Of course in golf, you can’t possibly have a wonderful event without having a great corporate partners and awesome volunteers. The Safeway Classic has both, so if you are out there this week, thank both the sponsors and every volunteer you see.
Safeway Classic—If you live in Oregon full time or you happen to be visiting this week on vacation, it is a must that at least once you attend the LPGA Safeway Classic being held this week at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club.
I have said for years, next to a Portland Trail Blazer game, this is the second best sporting event the state of Oregon has, even ahead of Duck football. Where else can you get excitement, pretty much get into the event for free if you play your cards right and have wonderful “front door” parking. Let alone all the free items you can pick up from Safeway and their vendors and did I mention get as close to the players as you can in any sport, plus see outstanding golf.
Speaking of volunteers, we would not even have this event if it were not for the volunteer organization that runs this event, Tournament Golf Foundation. It is no wonder the group is in the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame and it should be noted that both the founder of TGFElon Ellis and current long running president, Tom Maletis, should and hopefully will be inducted as individuals someday to the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.
The Safeway Classic is the longest running non-major event on the LPGA Tour, starting in 1972 as the “Portland Classic”, which had a total purse of $25,000 and the winner Kathy Whitworth taking home $3,750. Like everything else things have changed, boy have they changed, this year the players will be competing for a purse valued at $1.5 million and the winner will get a check for $225,000.
But back to the real stars, TGF and the over 1,000 volunteers that help make the Safeway Classic special, many of those volunteers work their vacations and summer time around this event. That is why over the years, TGF has been able to help many local charities with donations of over $16 million since the tournament was founded in 1972.
Readers, there are no flaws here in this event, about the only thing that you ever even here close to a negative comment is that many fans enjoy it so much, they wish it was 72 holes, rather than a 54 hole event.
And speaking of 72 holes, here is my free piece of advice for the very competent commissioner of the LPGA, Mike Whan. Mr. Whan, while you are in Portland this week, how about doing the right thing and announce that from now on out, the Safeway Classic will be considered the LPGA’s sixth major. If there was ever a tournament that deserved that stature and standing, this is the event, the Safeway Classic has earned the right to be at the top.
Get out to North Plains this week and let me know your thoughts, as I know you will.
August 13, 2012