Highland Meadows Golf Club has flourished during a mutually beneficial marriage with the LPGA Tour.
The Sylvania course will host an LPGA event for the 24th time this year.
John Amos, president of Highland Meadows and a member for 15 years, said the relationship has remained strong.
“It showcases our course. It's something we members can brag about when we go elsewhere,” Amos said. “If we're on vacation, we can say we belong to Highland Meadows and it's an LPGA event course. That's pretty slick.”
But the Marathon Classic, formerly known as the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic, hasn't always been staged at Highland Meadows.
Toledoan Judd Silverman founded the tournament in 1984 at the former Glengarry Country Club, later renamed Stone Oak Country Club. The tournament was held there in 1984, 1985, 1987, and 1988.
In 1989, it moved to Highland Meadows after Glengarry was sold and the developer wasn't interested in hosting the tournament, Silverman said.
Highland Meadows contacted the tournament's board of directors and expressed interest.
“We got together and talked about the logistics of it,” Silverman said. “We talked about what our needs were and what their needs were. We were able to work it all out and we've been there ever since. We've always been able to make it a win-win.”
Doug Spencer of Sylvania was president of Highland Meadows at the time of the original union.
“We knew they were looking for a place after moving from Glengarry and we decided to see if we could do it at Highland Meadows,” Spencer said. “We polled our members and we put it together. We were a proud golf course with a long history. We put our best foot forward.”
Spencer said there was some doubt initially about the viability of the relationship. But he said the event's charitable aspect helped give it a foothold.
“Back then we didn't know how the community would accept it,” Spencer said. “But we knew it was a great event for our community because of the children’s charities.”
Spencer, who now is a member of Inverness Club, served as president of Highland Meadows for three years and was on the tournament's board for five years. He said the event's founders could not have foreseen its eventual longevity and success.
“I think it would have been tough to say back then. But you look at the quality of the event now and how it's grown and I'm not surprised,” Spencer said. “I think it's one of the best things that happens to Toledo every summer. I thought that back in the day. I'm very proud to be associated with this event.”
Spencer said the LPGA players also have embraced the event for a number of reasons.
“It's a great test and one of the better-conditioned courses that they play,” Spencer said. “I think Highland Meadows was a breath of fresh air for the LPGA and it has maintained that image.”
Silverman said he has heard a lot of positive feedback from players.
“They love the condition of the golf course,” he said. “It has great playing surfaces. From our perspective, Highland Meadows is a great golf course. It is always in wonderful condition.”
Amos said Highland Meadows is a traditional parkland course that offers elevation changes.
“It's not a modern course,” he said. “We have several valleys that go through the course. There are spots on the course that you have to hit the right shot or you're not going to have a good hole. The woods on the course make you wish you hit it straighter. It's a short course. You can go from birdie to bogie in a hurry.”
One drawback for members is the closing of the course to member play during tournament week., but Amos said most of the 270 full-time members simply make other arrangements.
Amos said the event also serves as a marketing tool.
“Where else can you have thousands of people that love golf, look at your course?,” he said. “It helps us gain membership. Our members just love golf and that's what our club is about.”