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Published: Sunday, 7/24/2011

U.S. SENIOR OPEN

Farr Classic on hiatus, but its staffers working harder than ever

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Judd Silverman is the director of Toledo Classic Inc. which manages the U.S. Senior Open and Farr Classic. Judd Silverman is the director of Toledo Classic Inc. which manages the U.S. Senior Open and Farr Classic.
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The logistics of staging a major national golf tournament can be overwhelming.

But preparation for hosting this year's U.S. Senior Open was in good, experienced hands. Toledo Classic Inc., a non-profit entity that has operated the Jamie Farr LPGA tournament since its inception in 1984, is handling the marketing and management of the senior championship.

Toledo Classic Inc. played the same role when the Senior Open was held in Toledo in 2003. The organization is under contract with Inverness Club to run the event.

Judd Silverman, who is the director of Toledo Classic Inc., said the organization serves as the tournament's manager.

"We oversee every aspect of the event," Silverman said. "We handle all the sales and marketing and put together the volunteer organization. We take care of the media, the players, and the corporate sponsors. It's a big job."

Toledo Classic Inc. has five full-time, year-round employees. Its offices are located on Dorr Street near Inverness.

The organization has a volunteer coordinator, while other representatives handle corporate sales, advertising, and marketing. It also has an accountant, ticket and promotions director, and a person in charge of signage.

Sandy White, who is the organization's operations manager, has been with the group for 10 years.

"We've been working on the Senior Open for three years," White said. "All this stuff doesn't just fall into place. There are a lot of things that people just don't think about."

Silverman said the inventory is somewhat different than the LPGA event.

"The scope is quite large," he said. "So when it is larger that means there are more things that need to be taken care of."

He said the construction of the tents alone is a huge undertaking.

He also said his staff had to recruit about 2,500 volunteers, which is double the amount that is needed for the Farr.

"That is a tedious process and Heather Warga, our volunteer chairman, puts it all together," Silverman said.

White's duties are similar to those she has when preparing for the LPGA event.

"But it is different," she said. "There are more bleachers and tents, and more security hours. It's just bigger."

White is the liaison with suppliers that set up structures on the course.

"I pretty much take care of everything that goes on the course," White said. "From the bleachers, tents, tables, chairs, and fencing to the dumpsters and restrooms. There are 150 golf carts coming in and I have to arrange for all that."

White said her work includes getting bids, signing contracts, and scheduling.

Silverman said there is more construction for the Senior Open than the Farr.

"The number of hospitality tents is considerably more than the Farr, along with a bigger media center, merchandise pavilion, and ticket pavilion," he said. "There are 8,000 bleacher seats. The overall infrastructure is bigger."

Toledo Classic Inc. is under contract with Inverness Club, which in turn has a contract with the United States Golf Association. The club was required to hire a company to manage the event. It was put up for bid and Toledo Classic Inc. was selected to run the Senior Open.

Silverman, who founded Toledo Classic Inc., said it is not a unique entity. He said the vast majority of tournaments on the LPGA, PGA, and Champions tours are run by not-for-profit groups.

Toledo Classic Inc. also managed the NCAA Championship when it came to Inverness in 2009.

Silverman, who also is the tournament director at the Farr, which he founded, said Toledo Classic Inc. has been a key part to what has made the tournaments successful over the years.

"It's a community event," he said. "So many companies, volunteers, spectators, and the media come together to produce a successful sporting event. We have a great group of vendors. I believe the sponsors like the players and the competition. They also like that all the net proceeds go to local charity."

Silverman said Toledo Classic Inc. has raised more than $7.5 million for over 100 charities in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan since the inception of the Farr Classic in 1984. Although the Farr is on hiatus this summer, the effort continues through an agreement between Inverness and Toledo Classic that will allow the not-for-profit group's share of the Senior Open proceeds to go to charity.

White said one of the most gratifying aspects of her job is the charitable work.

The group has two standing charities, the Ronald McDonald House and the Farr Classic's scholarship fund through the Toledo Community Foundation.

"We are a nonprofit and the main reason why we put on the tournaments is to raise money for charity," White said. "It's a feel-good job."

White said six to eight new charities are selected each year by a board of directors.

This year's charities are Adopt America Network, Autism Model School, Children's Rights Council, Toledo Area Ministries, Toledo Basketball Academy, and Veggie U, a nonprofit based in Milan, Ohio, which combats childhood obesity.

"We have a big event in December when we give out the checks and announce the new charities for the next year," White said. "It's the most rewarding day of the year for us."

The amount raised varies from year to year and can range from $300,000 to $500,000, White said. The amount is determined once all expenses are covered.

White, who first got involved with the Farr as a volunteer, eventually took a position in sales for the LPGA event.

"I love meeting the people and the volunteers and the vendors. They are part of a family," White said. "It is very rewarding."

White said she is always asked if it is a full time job.

"I say, "Yes, it sure is,' " White said. "I had a guy in the pro shop ask me a few months ago what I was doing at the time. I happened to be working on a big spreadsheet for the dumpsters."

White said she does not get to see much golf during the week of the tournament.

"There's always something going on," she said. "I just like seeing people enjoy it."

White said the tournament week is a whirlwind.

"On Sunday it's almost a letdown," she said. "It's done all of a sudden. Then you have to start all over."

White said despite the Farr skipping 2011, Toledo Classic employees are working on next year's tournament.

"It's not on the shelf for us," she said.

Silverman said he enjoys seeing "the successful execution of the event."

"I like seeing the reaction the community has to the event and the competition," he said. "And then the icing on the cake is the charitable aspect."

Contact Mark Monroe at: mmonroe@theblade.com or 419-724-6354.



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