7 PGA Tour events that are gone but not forgotten
By T.J. Auclair
Unfortunately, because of sponsor dollars and scheduling reasons, staple PGA Tour events over the years have disappeared.
Many of them had loyal followings -- especially smaller market events -- and those tournaments were circled on the calendar for locals each year.
In many cases, it was a chance to see the best players play on the course that you play. What's better than that?
Here's a look at seven PGA Tour events that are gone, but not forgotten.
1. The New England Classic
Course: Pleasant Valley Country Club
Location: Sutton, Mass.
Final year: 1998
The New England Classic was a golf tournament on the PGA Tour from 1969 through 1998. It was held under various names at Pleasant Valley Country Club in Sutton, Massachusetts.
The inaugural Kemper Open was held at Pleasant Valley in 1968, with Arnold Palmer winning and marking the only time the men's and women's tours staged tournaments on the same course in the same year until the 2014 U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open were held at Pinehurst No. 2 in back-to-back weeks.
With no PGA Tour event in Rhode Island, Brad Faxon considered the New England Classic just over the Rhode Island border his "home game." He won the tournament in 1992 by two strokes over Phil Mickelson.
In 1975, Roger Maltbie won for the second consecutive week on the PGA Tour. He beats Mac McLendon by one shot at Pleasant Valley. Afterwards, Maltbie left his $40,000 winner's check behind in a bar.
2. The Pennsylvania Classic
Course: Mystic Rock at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort
Location: Farmington, Pa.
Final year: 2006
Though the Pennsylvania Classic (also known as the 84 Lumber Classic) was only played from 2000-2006, it was quite the memorable event. The last four times it was played, the tournament was staged at the beautiful Nemacolin Woodlands Resort.
The tournament was known as much for it's entertainment as it's golf. One year, 84 Lumber owner Joe Hardy brought in the Black-Eyed Peas -- at the height of their popularity -- to perform. Smashmouth was also there one year.
Here are a few notable facts about the Pennsylvania Classic:
- Teenager Michelle Wie accepted an invitation by Wie family friend and 84 Lumber owner Joe Hardy to play in the 2006 tournament. It was her sixth attempt to make a cut in a PGA Tour event and third attempt in 2006. She was 14 over through two rounds and missed the cut.
- The 2001 Pennsylvania Classic was the first PGA Tour tournament staged after the September 11, 2001 attacks. The Laurel Valley course used that year was about 40 miles west of Shanksville, Pa., where United Airlines Flight 93 went down. The hole flags used during the tournament consisted of American flags.
- A scary scene played out in 2005 when David Toms collapsed due to chest pain after hitting a tee shot on his 10th hole of the day and was airlifted to a hospital. Toms was diagnosed with "Supraventricular tachycardia" -- "an abnormally fast heart rhythm arising from improper electrical activity in the upper part of the heart." Thankfully, he recovered without further issues.
3. B.C. Open
Course: En-Joie Golf Club
Location: Endicott, N.Y.
Final year: 2006
The B.C. Open was first played as a one-round satellite event in 1971 and was actually won that year by renowned instructor, Butch Harmon. Beginning in 1973 and running on through 2006, it was a regular, 72-hole PGA Tour event.
It took place simultaneously with The Open Championship from 2000 to 2006, so the leading players were not available and it was one of the smaller events on the PGA Tour schedule.
A cool story unfolded in 2000. Defending champion Brad Faxon traveled to Europe in an attempt to qualify for the Open Championship. When he failed to do so, Faxon traveled back to the U.S. and made it to Endicott in time for his title defense.
When the tournament ended, Faxon emerged as the champion once again. The willingness for Faxon to travel back for the B.C. Open after missing out on the British Open tells you a lot about Faxon and the Endicott event.
The tournament was played at Turning Stone Resort in Verona in 2006.
These days, En-Joie plays host to the Dick's Sporting Goods Open on the PGA Tour Champions.
4. Greater Milwaukee Open
Course: Brown Deer Park Golf Course
Location: Brown Deer, Wis.
Final year: 2009
For 42 years, the Greater Milwaukee Open was a fixture on the PGA Tour. We particularly loved it at its final home -- Brown Deer Park.
First of all, Milwaukee itself is a lovely, highly underrated city and just a couple of long par 5s from the entrance to Brown Deer Park.
It's also historic because of this: Tiger Woods made his professional debut in 1996 at Brown Deer. Remember the "Hello, world," press conference? That was in Milwaukee.
In his first round on August 29, 1996, four days after winning his third consecutive U.S. Amateur in Oregon, the 20-year-old Woods opened with a 67. He made the cut, tied for 60th and took home his first professional check for $2,544. He also made a hole-in-one that week:
For a time, the GMO was the last chance for a player to qualify for the following week's Open Championship.
Notable Milwaukee winners include Mark O'Meara, Greg Norman, Jay Haas and Kenny Perry.
5. The Western Open
Course: Cog Hill
Location: Lemont, Ill.
Final year: 2006
This tournament was one of the all-time greats on the PGA Tour. In fact, at one time, the Western Open was considered a major. It was first established in 1899.
In 2007, it was renamed the BMW Championship and then rebranded as a PGA Tour Playoffs event, but it just wasn't the same.
Cog Hill's Dubsdread course was a great one for tournament golf and especially in the late 90s and early 2000s, where Tiger Woods won three times.
Beginning in 1962, the Western Open settled within the Chicago metropolitan area and was held at a variety of courses through 1973. In 1974, it found an annual home at the Butler National Golf Club in Oak Brook and was played there through 1990.
It moved in 1991 to Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Lemont, southwest of Chicago and stayed there through 2006 when Trevor Immelman was the Western Open's final champion.
6. The International
Course: Castle Pines
Location: Castle Rock, Colo.
Final year: 2006
Played from 1986-2006, the International was -- for a time -- the only modified Stableford event on the PGA Tour. Instead of traditional stroke play, points were awarded for a players score on a hole in this manner:
Albatross (double eagle) = +8
Eagle = +5
Birdie = +2
Par = 0
Bogey = −1
Double bogey or more = −3
In 2002, Steve Lowery collected eight points for his albatross on the par-5 fifth hole:
The tournament record was 48 points over 72 holes by Phil Mickelson in 1997 and matched in 2000 by Ernie Els.
Two things really stood out at Castle Pines. First, the elevation was no joke. Since it was roughly 6,300 feet above sea level, the air was thin and the golf ball went forever.
And, secondly, the milkshakes. You'll hear players today rave about the shakes at the Memorial, but Castle Pines was the original G.O.A.T. when it came to milkshakes.
7. The Buick Open
Course: Warwick Hills
Location: Grand Blanc, Mich.
Final year: 2009
Located in the suburbs of Flint, Warwick Hills featured some of the best crowds you could find on the PGA Tour. I mean, the 17th hole -- a par-3 -- was basically a 16th at TPC Scottsdale without the stadium seating -- but one of the hardest par 3s on Tour.
They even had the green man.
Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh were both three-time winners of the event.
Tiger's win in 2009 was the 69th victory of his career.
Along with being played on a great course, the Buick Open was also a great, weeklong party.