Michigan Golfer ON-LINE

Olds Classic Changes Orgamozational Structure
By Terry Fitzwater

Forgive the LPGA Tour if an old Bob Dylan tune is being hummed when it makes its annual pilgrimage to Michigan next month for the ninth presentation of the Oldsmobile Classic.

For the times definitely are a-changing in East Lansing.

The advent of the new millennium is bringing about the most dramatic facelift in the history of the Oldsmobile Classic, but most of it will not be visible to the naked eye. Sure, the tournament will continue to feature 15 or 16 of the top money winners on the LPGA Tour, in addition to some of the biggest names in women’s golf, including 1999 Oldsmobile Classic winner Dottie Pepper. Furthermore, the tournament will be held the same week it was last year, the week of August 21-27 at Walnut Hills Country Club in Meridian Township, and will once again be carried on national television by ESPN. And yes, all of the past champions are scheduled to return including LPGA Hall-of-Famer Beth Daniel, Jane Geddes, Michelle McGann, Pat Hurst, Barb Mucha and Dale Eggling.

There will be some new faces, however, running the Oldsmobile Classic behind the scenes in 2000. Gone are the co-directors of the tournament for the past two years, Nicole Vrable and Stephanie Hall. Vrable left to help start a new LPGA event in Orlando (which is scheduled to debut in spring, 2001), while Hall left for an administrative position with the LPGA Tour in Atlanta, GA.

New to the management of the event are co-directors Shelby Bailer (marketing and sponsorships) and Amy J. Baumer (operations). Another new co-director, Bill Mory, is a veteran of the tournament, however. Prior to this year, Mory was the PGA pro at Walnut Hills before leaving to buy his own golf course in Haslett. The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, which is the presenting sponsor of the Oldsmobile Classic, asked Mory to step in for a year to insure continuity from the past administration to the current. And Mory agreed.

Cosmetically, the tournament will look a little bit different on the course. For the first time ever, the corporate village hospitality tents will adorn the 18th fairway, whereas in years past it straddled the 17th fairway. The ESPN production village, which used to occupy the space between the fourth green and the 18th fairway, will now be moved to the north end of the course.

But one thing will remain the same: fans of professional golf will be able to see the best women players in the world showcase their talents and skill on the narrow fairways of Walnut Hills. They can expect to see incredible golf played on the magnificently manicured fairways and greens of Walnut Hills. They can expect some of the friendliest treatment from any athlete in all of professional sport, as the LPGA Tour stars are approachable and friendly. And best of all, they can expect a tremendous golf shootout throughout the Oldsmobile Classic — just like 1999 — when Pepper sank an unlikely 35-foot birdie putt to edge phenom Kelli Kuehne, to win her second tournament of 1999 and the 16th of her illustrious career.

For more information on the 2000 Oldsmobile Classic, or to order tickets, call 1-517-372-GOLF(4653).

Terry Fitzwater is the publisher of Lansing Community Newspapers.

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