McGladrey Classic's reputation and charitable work growing

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Heath Slocum, the 2010 McGladrey Classic champion, returned Monday for a Wii competition with kids.
March 28, 2011
Michael Curet, Special to PGATOUR.COM

SEA ISLAND, Ga. --If you hear McGladrey Classic chairman Davis Love III singing The Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends" these days, don't be surprised.

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On Monday, he returned to the clubhouse at the Seaside Course with friends Heath Slocum, the 2010 McGladrey defending champion, and Zach Johnson. The preview event at Sea Island's Lodge featured everything from a Wii golf competition with local Boys & Girls club members and Special Olympians to a chance to play 18 holes on the championship course. This year's tournament is Oct. 11-16.

Slocum won last year's inaugural McGladrey event in dramatic fashion by sinking a 60-foot putt on the 16th hole in Sunday's final round. Johnson, also an island resident, was instrumental in cementing the tournament relationship that eventually partnered McGladrey with Sea Island and Love to earn a spot on the PGA TOUR calendar.

McGladrey, which already had a relationship with Johnson, discovered Sea Island after Johnson moved to the southeast Georgia island. "I told them to come check this place out," Johnson said. "Soon they began bringing their clients and fell in love with it. It became a natural fit."

McGladrey President C.E. Andrews had been searching to get his company more involved with the game and jumped at the chance.

"We wanted to step up our participation in golf and launch and carry our brand," Andrews said. "We really weren't interested in slapping our name on a tournament that had someone else's name on it a year earlier. This opportunity came available. I can't tell you how pleased we are with it. If you had your number one pick of someone to associate with in a tournament venue, you'd probably pick Davis Love III. We were fortunate that alignment was there."

With ticket sales beginning on April 18, Andrews was on hand Monday to present a $75,000 check each to Boys & Girls Club of Brunswick and the Special Olympics. The tournament also unveiled "Tix4Kids," which will allow daily and weekly ticket buyers to select from a list of 20 charities and have 50 percent of their ticket purchase donated directly to that cause.

"They're doing it right here," said Slocum, who had never seen the golf course when he came in last year and won it. "It's everything you ever wanted in a golf course and will call on every aspect of your game." Since that October afternoon, when asked about the course from fellow PGA TOUR pros, he gives the course a convincing "thumbs up."

"Everybody that didn't play last year heard it from guys like Heath or others in the field what a great event it was," Love said. "This field is just going to grow and grow and hopefully we can grow the charity and the purse right along with it."

And Love has good reason for his optimism. Prior to being named U.S. Ryder Cup captain for 2012, he assisted Corey Pavin with the 2010 squad last fall, a job he doesn't have to deal with a week before the event this fall.

"It will be easier for players to get here that did play on Ryder Cup last year," said Love, who hopes to sway Ryder Cup players like Rickie Fowler and Stewart Cink to Sea Island. "Rickie has been here and knows how great the place is. He just couldn't make it last year."

The fact that McGladrey is a week before Disney will help the strength of the field, according to Love. "Many players will go the west coast and come east for Sea Island and Disney -- two tournaments that the players and families love. Robin and I have found that certain tournaments have a different feel to it. Those tournaments that we enjoyed are the ones that we tried to emulate. We want this tournament to continue to have a family atmosphere."

Andrews concurs. "I've been involved in a lot of corporate events in my career and I asked what is different about this event," he said. "I realize that the difference here is that it really doesn't feel like a corporate event. It felt more like a community and family event. I think that's what makes it special."

Love admits it's nice to have his name involved in the tournament, but facts remain that his family and staff are doing most of the work while he's playing golf. He has a greater appreciation for all that Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, and Jack Nicklaus have done in running golf tournaments. "It's not just what they have done for the growth of the game, but also for the communities," Love said. "They're icons of the game and for Tiger and I to have our own events and carry on their traditions is pretty neat. I'm just lucky to have that platform."

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