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Pandemic Open Feeds a Crowd
Copyright © 2020
June 28, 2020: Clinton -- The day began wet, grey and foreboding, but ended under a brilliant blue canopy, 116 golfers satisfied, if not only by their golf games, surely from a delicious lunch, noisy camaraderie and the pleasure of spending a few hours outdoors. Clinton Rotary joined with Rustic Glen Golf Course and Clinton High School Varsity football to stage the first ever Pandemic Open, on Saturday at Rustic Glen.
Six major sponsors bank-rolled the event, which was arranged by Greg Hodges of Rustic Glen and Clinton Rotary on short notice. In late May, Rotary’s cancellation of the 2020 Clinton Classic, a 26-year annual fixture in Clinton, precipitated an immediate outpouring of support from sponsors like Perky Pantry, Doll n’ Burgers and First Federal Bank, accompanied by messages: “Sorry about the golf tournament. We’re sending something for scholarships anyway.” And numerous golfers wrote cries of distress over the disruption to their traditional June plans.
Seeing promise, Hodges and Rotary decided to plunge ahead with a golf event, renamed and on a new date, with a new format. Chris Hampson of Rotary says going ahead was inevitable.
“We rode a wave of good will,” Hampson said. “People felt strongly about moving on, about their belief in the Rotary scholarship foundation, about wanting to be a community again. It was an easy decision, and Greg Hodges made it happen.”
Soon thereafter the Clinton Local, TLC Community Credit Union and Hometown Pizza of their own accord joined the sponsorship cadre, and it’s off to the races. Rather than emphasizing fund-raising, Rotary chose to show the community – golfers, sponsors, community organizations - its appreciation for so many years of backing. Greens fees were cut to the bone, sponsorships categories were drastically reduced, even as CHS football added enhancements to the packages. Current and past major sponsors were identified on multiple signs around the clubhouse. Rotary recognized hole sponsors by placing signs around the greens at no charge for anyone who had ever bought a hole sponsorship in the past.
“Next year has not yet arrived,” Hampson said, “but we’re looking forward to the return of the Clinton Classic, bigger and more fun than ever.”