published Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Charity helps Chattanooga Classic

Mickey McCamish, the tournament director, stands in front of the logo for the newly renamed Children's Hospital Classic on Tuesday at the Black Creek Club in Chattanooga. In conjunction with Executive Director of Friends of the Festival Chip Baker, McCamish announced that the Chattanooga Classic is now the Children's Hospital Classic and serve as a fundraising event for Children's Hospital at Erlanger.
Mickey McCamish, the tournament director, stands in front of the logo for the newly renamed Children's Hospital Classic on Tuesday at the Black Creek Club in Chattanooga. In conjunction with Executive Director of Friends of the Festival Chip Baker, McCamish announced that the Chattanooga Classic is now the Children's Hospital Classic and serve as a fundraising event for Children's Hospital at Erlanger.
Photo by Jenna Walker.

Officials from the Chattanooga Classic were always looking for new streams of revenue to secure a future for the Nationwide Tour event.

Officials from Children’s Hospital were always looking for ways to increase charitable donations.

The two organizations announced their partnership and the renaming of the golf tournament to the Children’s Hospital Classic on Tuesday at Black Creek Club, site of the tournament Oct. 6-9.

“It opens up the business partners that are affiliated with the hospital, because all companies have a marketing budget,” tournament director Mickey McCamish said. “With this golf tournament, it gives them a reason to invest while also giving them exposure.”

The Classic — like most golf tournaments — always has operated on a simple financial approach. Once all debts are paid, the proceeds are spread among area charities.

Previous approaches to fund the Classic were based on finding a single entity willing to donate five- or six-figure sums and become the title sponsor.

That didn’t work to its full potential. The Nationwide Tour published its schedule in January 2010 with an open week in October because negotiations for the Chattanooga Classic were not secured until after the annual schedule release.

“We were talking with Alstom, TVA, Volkswagen,” said Chip Baker, executive director of Friends of the Festival, which operates the tournament. “This gives us a clearer focus and gives us new revenue opportunities that we hope will be successful, and the beneficiaries will be children.”

The new partnership signifies a new approach to keeping the tournament viable while also increasing charitable donations to the area, notably the hospital. The PGA Tour said the Classic is penciled in for the first week of October next year.

The year-by-year agreement also allows for potential title sponsors, perhaps within the pool of companies previously approached.

The Children’s Hospital, part of the publicly funded Erlanger Medical Center, is not contributing any money to the tournament as a traditional sponsor would.

“Erlanger will give no financial assistance to this event,” said Doug Fisher, vice president for government and corporate affairs.

“Every dollar raised over the budget will to go the Children’s Hospital foundation,” he said. “It will be our intentions to approach our vendors that we spend millions of dollars with, to ask for their help and spend some of their dollars here.”

A primary goal of the Classic still remains — to make it Chattanooga’s premier athletic event and have it televised live across the nation and to foreign cable stations that would provide sponsors, the charities and the Chattanooga area immeasurable exposure.

“Charity is on the forefront of PGA Tour events, and any time that we can partner with a children’s hospital, it’s a great thing,” said Tim Iley, PGA Tour director of tournament business affairs. “We enjoy working with Chattanooga, and the future of the event is brighter than ever.”

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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