Mohegan Sun Casino Hosts Celebrity Players Tour Team Championship
Connecticut golf fans rubbed elbows with sports legends in late June when the Seasilver Celebrity Players Tour rolled into Fox Hopyard Golf Club in East Haddam for the Canadian Club Celebrity Team Championship.
Some of the top names on the CPT, including Boston Celtic greats John Havlicek and K.C. Jones, Miami Dolphins safety and former CPT president Dick Anderson, as well as local favorite and UConn alumnus Donny Marshall played two days of matches with amateurs Thursday and Friday before teeing it up for some serious cash.
This marked the third year the CPT has stopped in Connecticut and the second time that Fox Hopyard has hosted the event. It was won by the team of Anderson and Marshall.
"We were really pleased to have the Tour back here," said Ron Beck, director of golf for the club, considered one of the premier daily fee layouts in New England. "It doesn't cause too much disturbance to the course and the members understand the significance of hosting an event like this and enjoy the golf."
The CPT, which will consist of nine tournaments this year, was organized in 1997 to bring together former athletes from the four major sports and entertainers for friendly competition. The Tour also serves as a corporate hospitality vehicle, and has raised more than $3 million each year for charitable causes, many of which focus on children's needs.
Such sports luminaries as Johnny Bench, Mike Schmidt, Dan Marino, John Elway, Michael Jordan and Mario Lemieux have participated in CPT events.
Among those competing at Fox Hopyard in addition to Havlicek, Jones, Anderson and Marshall were former National Hockey League stars Grant Fuhr and Stan Mikita, baseball Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers, National Football League standout Dwight Clark, and football coach Lou Holtz.
The Mohegan Sun Casino was the presenting sponsor for this year's event, which benefited the battle against cystic fibrosis.
"We're very pleased to have Mohegan Sun," said Lisa Weistart, executive vice president of the CPT, during a break in the action on one of the pro-am days. "The Mohegan Sun assured us of having a first class tournament here. The staff at Fox Hopyard were wonderful in getting the course ready and helping run the event."
A number of other companies, including Pub Links Golfer Magazine, helped out to make the event a success. Pub Links Golfer publisher Tom Landers served as chairman of golf and rules for the tournament.
Several thousand fans watched on the weekend. The 36-hole tourney had celebrities paired up in a two-man best ball team format.
There's some good money to be made on the CPT. Last year's top money earner, former Major League pitcher Rick Rhoden, pocketed almost $200,000 in 2003. First place in a tournament is usually worth $30,000.
"This is a great Tour," said Anderson, a three-time Pro Bowl selection and a member of the 1972 17-0 Dolphin Super Bowl champion. "It gives guys like myself a chance to be real golfers and remain competitive."
He added "It also is a chance for us to interact with our amateur partners and corporate sponsors. The guys on this Tour are more relaxed and willing to take the time to get to know and have fun with the amateurs."
Marshall, who was asked to play with the New Jersey Nets entry in the NBA summer league in Orlando as he tries to play his way back to the basketball big time, was thrilled to merely be a part of the CPT stop in Connecticut.
"This is a chance for people to see what great golf courses Connecticut has and that we have something more than basketball to offer," he said with a smile. "The players on the CPT are very personable and love interacting with the people who play in the pro-ams and come to see them on the weekend. It's just a real fun time for everybody involved."