SIKESTON -- The absence of a professional golf event in the Sikeston area, created by the loss of the NGA Hooters Tour in 2005, has been filled.
The Heartland Players Senior Tour (HPST) debuts this summer at the Bootheel/YMCA Charity Golf Classic to be held July 10-14 at the Bootheel Golf Club, a 6,649-yard, par 72 layout located in Sikeston.
The HPST, a mini-tour created in 1997 by partners Gary Curry and former PGA Tour player Danny Edwards, provides a competitive avenue for the development of senior players and a springboard to the Champions Tour. The Champions Tour, formerly known as the Senior PGA Tour, is for players 50-
years of age and older.
Since the inception of the HPST, headquartered in Tulsa, Okla., many quality players, including former PGA and Champions Tour card holders, have competed. Among those are David Lundstrom, Keith Fergus, Ed Fiori, Randy Petri, Rocky Thompson, Frank Conner, Denis Watson, Bruce Vaughan, Rex Caldwell, Dean Overturf, Babe Hiskey, Robert Landers, Jim Pinkham, Bob Rawlins, Jackie Cupit, Jessie Patino, Kurt Cox, Steve Veriato, Bobby Ralston, Ed Fiori, John Paul Cain, Greg Edwards, Tony Peterson, John Grace, Jack Spradlin and Jerry Bruner.
A field of 80 will tee it up at Sikeston's inaugural 54-hole charity tournament event. The three competitive rounds begin on Wednesday, July 12, and wraps up on Friday, July 14.
Jeff Ketterman, Bootheel Golf Club manager and club professional, said, "We think this event will be a better fit for the community. All in all, what we want to do is raise some money for a charity here in town. That money will go to the YMCA of Southeast Missouri this year.
"The community will see some good golf and it will certainly drop a few dollars into the local economy."
Leading up to the tournament will be a practice round for the professionals on Monday, July 10, and a pro-am on Tuesday, July 11, followed by clinics conducted by several pros.
Landers, a farmer who practiced in his field and became proficient enough to qualify for the Champions Tour, will run one of the clinics.
"That should be interesting," Ketterman said.
Other name pros expected to grace the Bootheel/YMCA Charity Golf Classic field are Caldwell, who in 1969 won over $1,000,000 on the PGA Tour; Lundstrom, who finished 31st on the Champions Tour in 2000 and was the leading money winner on the HPST Tour in 2002; Conner, who competed on the Champions Tour for seven years and is the only man to have played in both the U.S. Open Tennis and U.S. Open Golf championships; and Fergus, who won 11 events on the PGA Tour.
Currently seeking sponsors and amateur participants for the pro-am portion of the tournament, Ketterman is hopeful this can become an annual event. "Each year, if we can find a sponsor for this event, we'd like to kick something back into the community," he said. "We'll rotate charities, a different one each year. We would certainly like to have a lot of community involvement."
Anyone interested in sponsoring or participating in the event may contact Ketterman at the Bootheel Golf Club via phone: 573-472-6111, fax: 573
-472-3442; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.