The Chitimacha Louisiana Open golf tournament once again fulfilled its mission to assist Acadiana-area charitable and youth groups at Wednesday’s annual wrap-up luncheon.
The reward for that performance? The tournament gets to do it for three more years.
The $550,000 Web.com Tour event awarded $180,000 to 55 local and regional charities during Wednesday’s noon gathering at the Petroleum Club, bringing the overall charity contribution in the tournament’s 24-year history to more than $4.6 million.
The tournament also announced a three-year extension with the Web.com Tour that runs through 2018, and that agreement kicks off with the event’s 25th anniversary on March 14-20.
“The people who put on this tournament, the sponsors and the volunteers, they do it for the right reason,” said Dan Glod, senior vice president and chief operating officer of the Web.com Tour. “They’re giving back to the community. I’ve heard them call themselves the little engine that could. Well, this is the little engine that’s doing it.”
The Open, one of only two PGA Tour-affiliated tournaments in Louisiana along with the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans, had its 24th event in March at Le Triomphe Golf and Country Club. Third-year pro Kelly Kraft won that title and the $99,000 first prize with a 14-under-par 270 score, and has already secured his spot on the PGA Tour next year during the in-progress Web.com Tour Finals.
“That’s a good day, on the green on championship Sunday honoring our champion and giving out that big check,” Louisiana Open executive director Danny Jones said. “But this is even a better day, because we get to see first-hand the difference the tournament is making.”
Tournament co-chairman Will Arledge talked about the many areas in which the Open’s charity dollars benefit the less fortunate when he spoke to the gathered sponsors and charity representatives.
“Most of us don’t have to worry about where we’re going to sleep tonight or going to bed hungry,” he said. “Most of us haven’t been sexually assaulted, or are in desperate need of help in order to survive. But the charities that help people in those situations, they need us. That’s why this tournament is important.”
Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana chairman O’Neil Darden, representing the title sponsor, presented the checks to the charities in attendance before the announcement of the three-year Tour extension. Jones said that the majority of the benefitting charities take an active role in staging the tournament.
“We have incredible volunteers,” he said. “It’s not like we just give them a check. They’re out there working so many jobs that aren’t glamorous and people don’t recognize. They’re driving shuttles, filling divots, picking up trash, running food to the sky boxes. They’re generating their own funds, and they’re taking ownership of the event. We’re just the vehicle that allows them to do that.”
Glod was joined by Brendan von Doehren, senior manager of Web.com Tour tournament business, and Marty Caffey, Tour player relations head and the Open’s business affairs representative, at the luncheon.
“People don’t realize that the PGA Tour is a not-for-profit entity,” Glod said. “We’ll give $140 million in charity money this year, and all that is because of people like you in this room. Through your sponsorships and your volunteer work, that’s how we generate those proceeds that make a difference in our tournament’s communities.”
Jones said that the local event’s model is different than most PGA Tour or Web.com Tour events, in which one charity or organization receives most of the dollars raised. Since its inception, the Open has contributed to over 100 charity and youth groups.
“We’ve had a Tour for 26 years, and this tournament has been a part of it for the past 24,” Glod said. “They must be doing something right.”
Open activities for its silver anniversary will begin in early March, with competition days scheduled for Thursday-Sunday, March 17-20. Le Triomphe, the 7,069-yard par-71 host course, has been the Open course all 24 years, ranking as the third-oldest site on the Web.com Tour.