VERONA, N.Y. — Flooding along New York’s Southern Tier forced PGA officials Thursday to change the venue for the final B.C. Open to Turning Stone Resort’s Atunyote Golf Club.
The move about 90 miles northeast from En-Joie Golf Club in Endicott, N.Y. was driven by widespread flooding last week along the Susquehanna River. The river runs alongside the public course, which had hosted the tournament since it began in 1971.
“It’s kind of a bittersweet day,” Henry Hughes, chief of operations for the PGA Tour, said at a news conference on the grass beside Atunyote’s clubhouse. “It was a hard decision, but it was easy to make because we had about 20 feet of water on the golf course [last week].”
The $3 million tournament, which will be played July 17-23, will be called the B.C. Open presented by Turning Stone Resort and will have a field of 132 players. All ticket sales to date will be honored, Hughes said.
Named after the cartoon strip, the B.C. Open has been a PGA Tour stop since 1972. But it struggled financially in one of the smallest markets on tour and never had a corporate sponsor. It is being eliminated from the PGA Tour, a victim of the major modifications to the tour schedule beginning next year.
The BC Open may be a minor tour stop, but it will be missed by yours truly. After the death of my mother in the mid-80′s I used to take my leave and go on vacation with my father. This usually consisted of us going to Long Island New York to visit family. From 1985-87, my father and I made the drive upstate and attended the BC Open.
Our usual day to attend was pro-am day. Players are much more friendly and informal those days. Usually I’d walk all 18 holes, my father 9, our favorite player to watch was Peter Jacobsen. At the 85 pro-am I remember my Dad saying to Peter to let one go off the 18th tee, Jacobsen did just that. A sneaky long hitter, Peter cranked out a drive a little over 300 yards. That was when such drives were not the norm as they are today.
We’d arrive early in the morning, before 8 a.m. Guess where we parked? How about across the street from the club.
The BC Open was a small town tournament and had the flavor of such. It was a nice looking course, if not difficult to play for the PGA pros. I remember the holes well. The front nine a little better than the back. Water fronted holes one and two. The back nine had back to back par 3′s at 16 and 17. Eventually one of those was converted to a par 3.
In spite of small purses and mediocre dates on the schedule, the BC Open has a good roster of winners. Tom Kite, Hubert Green, Fred Couples, Craig Stadler and John Daly. All of them major championship winners. Other good tour players had the BC Open among their triumphs.
Too bad the BC Open and En Joie will be a thing of the past come 2007. Just one more reason I dislike the FedEx Cup.
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