NASCAR legend Richard Petty, who has long had a sponsorship tie-in with Marathon Petroleum, will be a special guest during Thursday’s first round of the Marathon Classic at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania.
Petty’s iconic No. 43 car will be parked in proximity to the Nos. 1 and 10 tees, and the former driver will sign autographs and pose for photos with guests between 10 a.m. and noon, and from 1 to 3 p.m.
“Our partnership with Richard Petty is long-lived,” said Craig Weigand, Marathon’s manager of advertising and credit card marketing. “We’ve had him at public events in the past and he’s extremely popular.
NASCAR is a family event, and so is this. We want to give some other entertainment elements to drive the traffic.”
Weigand said that his company is also hosting a Marathon employees day during Saturday’s third round. That is expected to provide a potential influx of 200 to 250 guests.
Marathon has also arranged to hold its annual corporate golf outing for customers on the Monday after the tournament so that these guests could attend Sunday’s final round.
PARTY TIME: The Club 14 party hole — the par-3, 14th hole — at Highland Meadows will take on an even more festive atmosphere this week with the addition of the Labatt Party Deck, a covered structure that will hold upwards of 140 patrons.
“We wanted to provide our fans with a first-class hospitality option to go along with Club 14,” tournament director Judd Silverman said. “Thanks to the folks at Labatt we’re going to be able to do that. The deck will overlook the 14th green and offer a great view of the hole along with seating and complimentary beverages and snacks.”
While the Club 14 focus, incorporating young professionals, is staged on Thursday, the Labatt Party Deck will be in operation all four rounds. Admission is $50 daily on top of the tournament admission cost.
SPECIAL GUESTS: The Marathon Classic will welcome active-duty military personnel — plus police and firefighters — to attend, along with a guest, for no admission charge during this week’s tournament.
“This is already one of the best attended events on the LPGA tour, but we’ve got plenty of room out here for more people,” Silverman said. “We want to honor the folks who put their lives on the line every day.”
PRO-AMS: There will be no celebrity-pro challenge, a longtime tournament staple, in 2014. Instead, the Marathon Classic will add a second offsite pro-am tournament sponsored by the Image Group. It will be held at Sylvania Country Club. Also on tap is the Brooks Insurance/Health Care REIT pro-am at Inverness Club. Neither of those events is open to spectators.
Those pro-ams bring the total of such events to six for 2014. Events open to the public at Highland Meadows include the 13abc/PNC Pro-Am and the ProMedica/Hylant/Heidtman Steel pro-ams on Monday. On Tuesday, Highland Meadows will host the KeyBank Putting Pro-Am with the official tournament pro-am, the Fathead Celebrity event, set for all day on Wednesday. (See schedule of events on Page 6 for more information.)
“Everything we add that generates more revenue throws more money into the charity pot,” Marathon’s Weigand said.
MONDAY QUALIFIER: As always, the final two spots in the Marathon Classic’s 144-player field will be determined by a qualifying tournament held Monday at Sylvania Country Club.
The LPGA allows the local tournament committee to invite two amateurs to participate in the qualifier that otherwise includes both member and non-member professionals.
This year, the two amateur invitees are Sathika Ruenreong, a native of Thailand and a rising junior at the University of Toledo, and Jessica Porvasnik, who plays at Ohio State University.
BIG EXPOSURE: All four rounds of the Marathon Classic will receive two hours of live TV coverage on the Golf Channel. The tournament will be aired in high definition in the United States and 160 foreign countries through an LPGA Tour-Golf Channel production.
The time slot will be 3-5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Barring weather delays, and to accommodate the Golf Channel, weekend tee times will be scheduled to arrange 5 p.m. finishes for the third and fourth rounds.
KIDS ZONE: Well, it may not be a specific zone, but the Marathon Classic has some kid-friendly activities planned during this week’s tournament at Highland Meadows.
“Most of the activities will be out on the golf course, but we’ll have a Kids Zone tent near the main entrance where all the information will be available,” said Jim Decker, the tournament’s director of marketing.
Kids will get to greet auto racing legend Richard Petty on Thursday, can have their pictures taken with various mascots on Friday, and take part in an LPGA junior clinic on the practice range at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Face painting and scavenger hunts are on the docket, as well as a golf simulator located between the Nos. 1 and 10 fairways that will be open to kids on all days.