Pros a hit at Utley Classic

Benefit for Rainbow House entertains participants.
Tuesday, August 3, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:58 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Laughter replaced silence on the Country Club of Missouri greens on Monday at the 14th annual Stan Utley-Rainbow House Golf Classic.

“Feel it in your feet, feel it in your feet,” Kelley Gibson said. “That’s what my pro always told me, and that’s why I’ve never been in the top 100 of putting.”

Spectators laughed as Gibson, a professional from New Orleans who joined the PGA Tour in 1992, coached and joked with players on the 17th green.

Stan Utley, a PGA professional who was an All-American at Missouri in 1983 and ‘84, leaves the tour and comes back to Columbia every year to host the tournament. This year, 12 professionals responded to his invitations to participate in the Classic.

A lighthearted atmosphere surrounds the tournament, which raises money for the Rainbow House in Columbia, an organization that helps abused and neglected children. Last year the event raised more than $60,000 that was used to finish a new 12,000 square foot building that will serve as a shelter for abused children in mid-Missouri.

The event began with a pro-am, but it was canceled after about seven holes because of a thunderstorm. The clouds parted in time for the Junior Clinic with the Pros, and a skins game followed.

Kristen Samp, the only woman’s professional to participate Monday, said she was pleased to help the Rainbow House.

Samp played for Missouri from 1992-96 and has been playing professionally since 1997. She joined the LPGA this year.

“I’ve known Stan for a long time and he just called me up and asked me if I wanted to come play,” Samp said. “I think it’s a great charity, I used to help with this when I was in school and it’s kind of cool to get to come back and play for the charity.”

Chip Beck, winner of the 1990 Buick Open, took part in the Classic for the second year. He said he enjoyed playing for a good cause and appreciated the community’s generosity.

“I’ve really enjoyed it here in the respect that it’s a community event and that the community really supports it well,” Beck said. “It’s kind of light spirited and that’s the way it should be, it should be fun. I think the kids benefit, I mean they raised a lot of money through the years for this event.”

Chris Tidland, who played for Oklahoma State and was runner-up at the 1995 NCAA Championship, which the Cowboys won, also participated.

“I’ve known Stan for a long time and we’ve been friends, he’s helped me on my game and I’ve come out the last few years,” Tidland said. “It’s great, we have a good time and we meet a bunch of people that end up following our careers.”

Tidland and Scott Bess, a Columbia native who plays on the Champions Tour, won the skins game.

Utley said the real winner Monday was Rainbow House.

“We’re looking forward to a bigger and better next year,” Utley said.

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