Chattanooga Classic set in '11

Chattanooga Classic set in '11

December 10th, 2010 by David Uchiyama in Sports - Golf

Staff File Photo by Allison Carter/Chattanooga Times Free Press Spectators watch as golfers participate in the Chattanooga Classic at Black Creek Club.

The PGA Tour and Friends of the Festival have agreed to hold the Chattanooga Classic at least another year.

The ninth edition of the Nationwide Tour golf tournament at Black Creek Club will be played for a fifth consecutive year in early October, this time Oct. 3-9.

"It's an early Christmas present for Chattanooga, especially since we've lost so many nice sporting events like the [NCAA football] championship game, Spring Fling and basketball tournaments," said Chattanooga Classic tournament director Mickey McCamish. "It's great to be able to retain the Chattanooga Classic, the PGA Tour's presence in the city."

The two organizations recently came to the agreement based in part on the belief that Friends of the Festival - organizers of the tournament as well as the long-established Riverbend Festival - will announce a title sponsor early in 2011.

"We got a new lead out of the tour championship in Charleston, and that has gone from an opportunity to a high likelihood," Friends of the Festival executive director Chip Baker said. "It's gone from a chance opportunity to significant. It's an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10."

Baker would not release the name of the potential title sponsor.

"We were hoping to have it done by the end of December," McCamish said. "We all have our suitcases packed to go sign the deal."

Classic officials have been working with companies in the auto, energy and health care industries in recent years for title and presenting sponsorships. They will continue those pursuits as well as that of the title sponsor.

A title sponsor is critical for the long-term future of the event.

For now, and as it has for several years, the Classic will operate under an agreement that has the PGA Tour assuming the largest financial burden.

"With the timing of signing a title sponsor coming up, and the tour wanting to release its 2011 schedule very soon, we were able to reach a similar financial agreement as previous years," McCamish said. "That helps us help them, and it lets them help us."

The future of the Classic was in jeopardy as recently as the 2010 event in October.

Back then, Nationwide Tour president Bill Calfee said, "I'd certainly like to have the Chattanooga Classic again. "I look at the glass as half full. A year from now, I hope we'll look back and laugh at the worries of today."

That could be the case come October in Cummings Cove.

"The word 'partnership' is key here," Baker said. "There is a comfort level they have with all the entities involved with the Classic - us, Black Creek, the volunteers, the media, the community - so it's developed into a fine partnership."

And that partnership will continue for at least one more year.

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.