Firestone Country Club, Kaulig Companies Championship organizers and the PGA Tour Champions released information on the tournament this weekend.
Former Kaulig Companies Championship winners scheduled to appear include (winning years):
Jerry Kelly (2022, 2020)
Steve Stricker (2021)
Retief Goosen (2019)
Vijay Singh (2018)
Scott McCarron (2017)
Bernhard Langer (2016, 2015, 2014)
Kenny Perry (2013)
More in the Field
Former NEC World Series of Golf (NWSG)and WGC-NEC Invitational (WNI):
Jose Maria Olazabal (1990, 1994) NWSG
David Duval (1998) NWSG
Darren Clarke (2003) WNI
Stewart Cink (2004) WNI
Vijay Singh (2008) WNI
These former champions are not the only golfers slated for the South Course. Other golfers include Stuart Appleby, Chris DiMarco, John Daly, Ernie Els, Fred Funk, Tom Lehman, Justin Leonard, Rocco Mediate and Corey Pavin, just to name a few.
— mbona30 (@mbona30) July 11, 2023
“We need to keep playing more in Ohio!”
Tiger Woods nailed it during an interview after a round at Firestone Country Club as seen in the video narrated by Jim Nantz, produced by the course. (Link.)
Robert Trent Jones, the renowned golf course architect, was hired to get the former course for Firestone employees ready for the 1960 PGA Championship. As a host of more than 80 tournaments, the South Course at Firestone is an iconic layout.
The first event was the 1954 Rubber City Open, won by legendary club thrower and Golf Hall of Famer, Tommy Bolt. He pocketed a cool $2,400!
Jack Nicklaus, the OSU grad and golf’s grandest statesman, made his debut in golf at the Rubber City Open in 1958 as an 18 year old amateur.
Shortly after a fire burned down the clubhouse, the Firestone Water Tower and golf staple was constructed. It can be seen by all three courses.
The course redesign in preparation for the 1960 PGA was met with complaints by pros that it was too long. Arnold Palmer’s reaction was best: “A Monster!” Truthfully, he triple-bogeyed the 16th in the 1960 PGA and saw his hopes for a PGA win dashed on that hole. What he first said about the hole was:
The over 7000 yards with added water and bunkers made this course truly one of a kind. The 16th hole is nicknamed “The Monster” and has a history of craziness. And notice at the end of the article what’s in store at this hole this weekend!
The PGA Tour has a great article on the 16th. Here are a few nuggets. (And I walked the course during the Saturday round and missed Lon Hinkle’s famed six iron that he skipped over the pond’s surface in winning the 1979 World Series of Golf!)
- Lee Trevino dunked two wedges into the water enroute to a nine in 1976.
- The hole has seen two “10’s,” first by Paul Bondeson, whose club might still be at the bottom of that pond. The second was Curtis Strange in 1986. His ten was magnificent! Drive right into the trees. Two wedges to get out. Fourth in the water. Fifth penalty. Sixth over the green on the lip of the back bunker. Seven saw the chip bound over the green. Eight on and a two putt ten!
- The hole is currently at 667 yards. The only reason for 667 was that the redesigned 2003 16th actually measured 666 yards. Head pro Don Padgett said at that time: “We can’t have it be the ‘Devil Monster’…”
- Jack parred the hole for his fourth PGA win. How? Driver in a water hazard. Penalty. Six iron into the right rough behind a huge tree. The Golden Bear decided to flop a nine iron OVER the tree and pond and settled 30 feet out. He calmly stroked in the fifth for a par.
- Lon Hinkle was a tour lifer. A big man from Flint, Michigan, he had a career year in 1979. First was his Bing Crosby National Pro-AM (now the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am) victory in playoff fashion. Then during the US Open at Inverness Club in Toledo, Lon and his caddy decided to play the long par five dogleg right hole by hitting down the 17th fairway!
He hit one-iron off the tee and a two-iron on the green for a birdie. At 5:30 am the next day, a tree was planted in the spot for golfers to NOT hit down 17! “The Hinkle Tree” is part of the lore of the US Open. But on that late August Saturday in Akron, Lon’s creativity reared again!
Faced with a third shot in a heavy rough that would need to carry the pond, he grabbed his 6-iron and proceeded to bounce it over the water’s surface. The shot took two skips on the water and landed on the green. Two putts later he somehow salvaged a par and won the tournament on Sunday.
I heard a loud roar from behind as my buddy and I were following Lee and Jack and others. It didn’t take long for the word to get around about the famous shot!
Here are some notes about this week. From family to music to food trucks to NASCAR, this folks behind the tournament have set up entertainment and fun for all!
NEOSI’s Al Kornspan will be live covering the event. Follow him for all the action and news and great shots!
Here’s a partial list of many of the fun events for families this weekend!
The Kaulig Companies Championship at Firestone brings KidZone and live music to the golf greens! It's the perfect summer outing with exciting activities for the little ones and rockin' concerts. #FirestoneFun #Kaulig #FirestoneCountryClub #AkronOhiohttps://t.co/nX9t5zTvfC pic.twitter.com/QuTMnpu1Rp
— AkronOhioMoms.com (@akronohiomoms) June 29, 2023
And to honor the 16th, anytime a birdie happens on that hole, a green light will illuminate at the bar and it will be half price beers for just a few minutes! Here’s hoping for fours on that hole!
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