For PGA professional Trevor Dodds, Monday’s Stan Utley Rainbow House Classic was worth a 30-hour trip.
Dodds, from St. Louis, was one of 13 professionals who participated in the event Monday at the Country Club of Missouri. He said he came back to St. Louis on Sunday from Namibia, Africa, where his parents live. Dodds won the 2001 BUY.COM Virginia Beach Open.
The proceeds from the tournament will be donated to Rainbow House, an emergency shelter for abused and neglected children in Columbia. Stan Utley, an All American golfer at Missouri in 1983 and 1984, hosts the event. He said he is expecting this year’s tournament to raise more than $100,000.
“I am proud to be part of the event,” Dodds said. “I like this event because it’s more about the kids.”
In the junior clinic, the main event of the classic, about 150 children received lessons from professionals. Conor Raetz, 10, of Columbia, participated for the fourth time. He said he likes the clinic and that he feels he can improve after a lesson from PGA professional Jay Delsing.
“I think I’m going to be back here next year too,” Raetz said.
Delsing, from St. Louis, has known Utley for more than 30 years and is one of the most frequent supporters of the event. He said the clinic is a positive influence on children.
“It’s very important to look toward the next generation of golfers,” Delsing said. “If you can get kids interested in the game and to focus more on golf, it might help them stay out of trouble.”
Delsing will compete in the 2003 Omaha Classic as the defending champion.
After the clinic, professionals were divided into four teams to compete in a five-hole skins game. Unlike PGA tournaments where ropes keep fans off the course, the classic gave spectators a chance to get close enough to listen and talk to professionals. A team of Utley, Delsing and Jay Haas, from Belleville Ill., won the skins game.
Frank Moore of Columbia, who has watched the classic every year, said he is a big fan of Haas because he saw Haas win his first professional title at the 1976 Missouri Open at the Country Club of Missouri.
“I won’t miss a opportunity to see him,” Moore said.
Haas ranked 11th on the PGA 2003 money list.
Earlier in the day, 56 amateurs paid $1,500 each to play 13 holes with two professionals. Art Evans of Columbia went to the course with Rob Akins and Ben Crane. Akins is a professional golf teacher who taught 2001 PGA Champion David Toms. Crane is the winner of the 2003 BellSouth Classic.
“That was amazing how far they can hit the ball,” Evans said.