Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Outback Pro-Am likely not going any time soon

LUTZ — Since 1988, when the Seniors Tour came to Tampa Palms Golf and Country Club, there has been an event in the Tampa Bay area for the 50-and-older pros.

The event has changed names a few times and switched to the TPC Tampa Bay course in 1992, but every year the senior circuit has stopped in the area.

It doesn't look as if that is going to change any time soon.

This is the last year of Outback's contract as title sponsor of the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am, which is being played this week. It has not been a good few years for most businesses, especially chain restaurants. But all signs point to Outback staying on board for at least the next two years.

"We are extremely optimistic that there will be a tournament here in 2011 and beyond," said tournament director Amy Hawk, who was brought on board in 2004 when Outback took over title sponsorship. "We have had good conversations with Outback and other sponsors, and they have every intention of keeping the tournament here in Tampa as long as they can."

Hawk said an announcement likely will come in the next 30 days. Outback might remain as the title sponsor, she said, or it could share title sponsorship with another company.

Outback Steakhouse co-founder and chief operating officer Chris Sullivan did not return calls for comment, but Hawk said he has echoed her sentiment about keeping the Champions Tour in the bay area.

The 30-day window after the tournament will give organizers plenty of time to set up the 2011 event, unlike in 2004 when Outback took over for Verizon as title sponsor only four months before the tournament's start. That left little time to get the course ready and secure other sponsors.

"It takes 11 months to set up a tournament," Hawk said.

And it takes $2 million to $4 million to be the title sponsor. Several minor sponsors have signs or booths throughout the course, which range from $10,000 to $40,000. The purse for this year's tournament is $1.7 million, same as the past two years.

Like last year, there are 26 Champions Tour tournaments in 2010. The Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am got a big boost in 2008 when the tournament moved from February to April. The February date meant unpredictable weather and fewer hours of sunlight. The April date is more coveted because of better weather and its spot right after the Masters, when people tend to pay more attention to golf.

The pro-am format is unique on the Champions Tour. A professional is paired with an amateur partner, in some cases a celebrity. The tournament is modeled after the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in California, which Sullivan played in and got the idea to bring the format to Lutz.

Hawk said the tournament will continue to use the pro-am format. Some of the celebrities at this year's event include Michael J. Fox, Vince Gill, George Lopez and Emmitt Smith.

Because of the format, the tournament draws a wide variety of fans.

"It's taken the tournament to a whole new level," Hawk said. "Our demographic has changed dramatically. We get more of the casual golf fans or fans who just want to come see the celebrities."

Outback Pro-Am likely not going any time soon 04/13/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 11:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Steven Stamkos making exhibition debut for Lightning

    Blogs

    Lightning captain Steven Stamkos will make his much-anticipated exhibition debut tonight against the Predators.

  2. Quick snaps: Florida's streak, FSU's true freshman QB and UCF's prolific offense

    College

    Streaking

     Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain shakes hands with Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops at the end of the game between the University of Florida and the University of Kentucky in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, in Gainesville, Fla. Florida defeated Kentucky 45-7.
  3. Cannon Fodder podcast: Key matchups in Bucs-Vikings game

    Blogs

    In our latest Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast, Greg Auman breaks down five key matchups that will help decide Sunday's Bucs game against the Minnesota Vikings.

    Defensive lineman Chris Baker is a question mark heading into Sunday's game against the Vikings.
  4. Rick and Tom podcast: Will Bucs go 2-0? Are Gators on upset alert?

    Blogs

    It's football friday as Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down the Bucs' game in Minnesota, including the improved offensive line.

    Ali Marpet moved from guard to center on an improved Bucs offensive line.
  5. Week 4 Heisman watch, local of the week and more

    College

    Heisman watch

    San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny (20) reacts with teammates during the final minute of the second half of an NCAA college football game against Stanford Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, in San Diego. San Diego State won 20-17. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull) CAGB113