No plan, no money led to tournament’s cancellation
The Colorado Open’s manager and director said Wednesday he didn’t have a plan about when to cancel the event because he didn’t think he’d need one.
Jack Doak finally started spreading the word he was cancelling the event at about 5 p.m. Tuesday. Play was to begin Wednesday morning.
“There wasn’t a plan because I was optimistic I would get the funding,” Doak said. “I would have to raise a quarter-million dollars to make it work. I wasn’t close enough. I didn’t have enough sponsors signed up.”
The purse for this year’s event was supposed to be $125,000. A title sponsor would have contributed $250,000, Doak said, but there wasn’t one for this year’s tournament.
Doak said he hopes to refund entry fees for golfers left stranded without a tournament. He said he had no plan for deciding when to cancel the event, but kept trying to raise the money until late Tuesday afternoon.
In hindsight, Doak said, he should have pulled the plug on the event at least two weeks ago, which would have given the golf pros who traveled to Eagle County for the event an opportunity to find somewhere else to play this weekend.
“I’m doing everything I can to cover entry fees and outstanding expenses,” he said. “Hindsight is 20/20, and I probably should have cancelled it a few weeks ago.”
Doak said he had a few small sponsors, but the money and the entry fees went to prepay expenses for the tournament. He said he faces a few operational costs, food and beverages on the course, signage, tent lease and other expenses.
“There are a number of things,” he said. “They’re all small – but they add up.”
Doak said his predecessor left some outstanding bills behind, and that he paid some of them. Sonnenalp owner and manager Johannes Faessler said he also paid some of the outstanding bills from last year’s tournament.
Doak said the weak economy and the late start – he didn’t take over completely until January – were to blame for most of the tournament’s money woes.
First time in 39 years
It’s the first time the Colorado Open has been cancelled in its 39-year history, and the first time anyone can remember any tournament anywhere being cancelled the night before it was to start.
More than 150 golfers were entered, each paying a $295 entry fee.
“I’m still trying to get some of the players paid from the Senior Open,” said Doak.
“I suppose it’s better not to play than to play and then the winners don’t get a check,” said Allan MacDonald, a native of Scotland who traveled from Scottsdale, Ariz., to Eagle County for the Colorado Open.
Not being paid after finishing in the money in Doak’s tournaments is not exactly new thing.
Clem Cleveland said he is one of several players who finished in the money at this year’s Colorado Senior Open – and was never paid. The Colorado Senior Open and the Colorado Women’s Open are also Doak-run tournaments.
“I talked to him last week, and his excuse was that one of the sponsors didn’t pay,” said Cleveland, the director of marketing for Aspen’s parks and recreation department, which operates Aspen’s public golf course.
“I was on my way over this morning (Wednesday) when I got a call at 7:30 a.m. telling me to turn around and go home,” said Cleveland, who stuck around for a round of golf Thursday morning at Sonnenalp’s Singletree course, which allowed golfers scheduled to participate in the event to play for free.
Cleveland, who’s instrumental with the Colorado Golf Association and a vice president of the PGA’s western chapter, said the two organizations should just take over the Colorado Open.
Promises to return
Jeff Bryant of golfcolorado.com helped promote this year’s Colorado Open, and said he’ll do the same for next year’s event.
“We’re looking out for the good of golf in Colorado,” said Bryant. “We’ll be there again next year.
He said he expects the event to move back to the Front Range next year.
Mortgage banker Bud Biggers of RBC Mortgage (Royal Bank of Canada) wrote a $20,000 sponsorship check to help sponsor this year’s event. He said the check was never cashed.
He said the economy makes it tough to find sponsorships.
“We sponsor all kinds of things,” he said. “This is unfortunate, but these things happen. We’ve been very supportive and we’ll be a sponsor again next year.”
With the tournament cancelled and Doak remaining mum, golfers in town to compete in the event are left with nothing but time.
“It’s bizarre. I’ve been a professional golfer for seven years and I’ve never seen anything like it,” said MacDonald. “I’ve played in South America, Central America, Europe, Canada, Asia, and I’ve never seen a tournament cancelled the afternoon before it’s scheduled to begin.
“I feel sorry for the staff. The course is in great shape.”