CLUB USED REGIONAL APPROACH TO GET TOURNAMENT
By Todd Vinyard
WEST POINT – Everyone knows about the Golden Triangle, but how about the Old Waverly Triangle.
The extended version of the Columbus-Starkville-West Point triangle has helped the Old Waverly Golf Course become the U.S. Women’s Open host site for 2000.
“This will truly be an event not just in West Point, but Mississippi and the entire south,” Old Waverly Chairman of the Board George Bryan said.
When the United States Golf Assocaiton announced it was planning on coming to this small Clay County town some eyebrows were raised, but organizers point to a bigger picture.
“This is an area with about five state capitols in easy driving distance,” Old Waverly General Manager Bill Maxey said.
A regional approach is nothing new for this club which bills itself “The Golf Club of Mississippi”, and can boast members in 27 states and two foreign countries.
Already 30 to 50 corporations have pledged support.
Around 2,500 volunteers will be needed from areas like Tupelo, which is about 45 minutes away.
“We are counting on Tupelo playing a big part,” Bryan said.
USGA President Judy Bell said the ability to be accessible for spectators and housing is always a concern. Old Waverly’s presentation answered those fears pointing to a planned four lane Tupelo to West Point highway, and the success Tupelo has had in hosting the furniture market.
Being able to form coalitions between other cities and states is more important than a host towns size Director of U.S. Open Championships Betsie Hamilton said. The tournament is in Pinehurst, N.C. a town of under 10,000 people near Charlotte this year.
Old Waverly already has strong support from state and local officials.
“The key thing is starting early and getting your community behind it,” said Broadmoor Golf Club Manager Sherry Watkins, whose club in Colorado Springs had 90,000 to 100,000 fans attend last years Open.
Hard work can equal dollars in the local economy to go along with 16 hours of national television coverage.
“It is hard to tell exactly how many millions of dollars could be pumped into this area,” Maxey said.