Chattanooga Golf Classic taking 2012 off

Chattanooga Golf Classic taking 2012 off

December 6th, 2011 by David Uchiyama in Sportlocal

Spectators follow the golfers during the Children's Hospital Classic at the Black Creek Club in this file photo.

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

The Children's Hospital Classic will be on hiatus for the 2012 calendar year, but the Nationwide Tour event likely will return to Black Creek Club in May of 2013.

The combination of construction at Black Creek, the PGA Tour revising its Nationwide schedule, and the difficulty of securing funding for two tournaments within seven months forced tournament organizers to take the year off.

"When you combine everything, we decided it would be best to skip 2012," tournament director Mickey McCamish said. "We just could not get a date that would really work."

The PGA Tour is committed to continuing its relationship with Friends of the Festival to get the tournament back on its schedule in 2013, perhaps in late May, as McCamish and the tour have discussed. It has been in October in recent years.

"We don't know what the '13 schedule is going to look like in general because there are so many variables," said Jeff Adams, Nationwide Tour communications director. "The hope is that we will return. Everybody is working to do that. It's still a work in progress.

"We very much want them back in '13, but there is work to be done."

The PGA Tour gave Friends of the Festival an opportunity to play the Classic over Labor Day weekend in 2012, but the course is booked for a club function, and having the 2013 version in May would land within the same fiscal year, creating sponsor difficulties.

"Within the same budget year, we would have to sell businesses on two sponsorships, and it's tough enough to sell them on one," McCamish said. "As a result, we will not be on the 2012 schedule."

Pushing the next Classic back about eight months provides McCamish more time to pursue sponsors -- possibly a title sponsor -- relieves potential pressure on Black Creek and lets all parties take a closer look at ways to improve the tournament for players, patrons and participants.

"I think we can look at all the avenues and the bases that we haven't touched yet and try to make it bigger and better," said Black Creek Club general manager Rob Riddle. "We're going to sit back and see what we're missing and what we haven't touched."

"Moving to May takes us out of football season."

The Black Creek clubhouse will undergo major renovation beginning in January, expected to last through May. It includes adding a private dining facility, a casual bar and outdoor patios to the current building.

A new facility will have the golf shop, a fitness center and men's and women's locker rooms as well as lounges, plus a new location for the swimming pool.

Course designer Mark Silva tweaked it this past summer by widening bunkers and adding a few tee boxes -- farther back on No. 17 but closer on No. 3.

"We're always looking at ways to make it more playable for most, but also more challenging for when we have state amateur and maybe USGA events," Riddle said. "Building tee boxes isn't expensive so long as we don't build them on one of the lots for sale."

The hiatus adds the Classic to the list that includes the SEC women's basketball tournament, the Spring Fling, the FCS national championship game and the Southern Conference basketball tournament -- events that have left Chattanooga.

"It's an important realization for our community," Friends of the Festival executive director Chip Baker said. "That's why we'll work harder for 2013. It's all about continuing to work toward maintaining sponsorship, finding new funding and partners and sponsorship."

Unlike the other big Chattanooga sporting events, the Classic is on track to be back.