Golf event requires Swift action
By BY JOHN HORNBERG
July 12, 2010 at 2:12 a.m.
Updated July 13, 2010 at 2:13 a.m.
As luck would have it, the birth of the Victoria Texas Open came down to the recommendation of one man.
Breene Cantwell said he had been working for five years to bring the professional golf tour to Victoria Country Club, where he is the golf professional.
Eventually, it was the success of the golf course's previous events that won over tour organizers as well as the community that resulted in the the NGA Hooters Tour's first Victoria Texas Open, which starts this Thursday.
But one person's word planted the idea with regional tournament director Ryan Waters: Richard Swift.
Waters said Swift pointed him toward people at the country club.
"We were in Pearland last year with our event, and Richard Swift, one of our touring professionals, said I needed to call Claude Jacobs, one of the members at Victoria Country Club," he said. "He said that he put on a great college golf event, and that they were looking to add a Hooters tour event."
Many of the courses the Hooters tour chooses to play at come from player referrals, Waters said.
"Either players belong to the course, or they say 'God it would be a great place to play one of our tournaments,'" he said.
Cantwell said former members of the Adams Golf Tour, who had moved up to the Hooters tour, also played a role.
"The pros that had played here on the Adams Tour years back said, 'You know, ya'll ought to check out Victoria Country Club,'" Cantwell said. "Richard Swift, who is playing on the Hooters tour, is the one who said they should check into this.
"I got a phone call in August wanting to know if we would be interested."
Word of mouth that did the trick. Victoria Country Club signed on to a three-year contract to hold the Victoria Texas Open.
"It boiled down to, because of the some of the events we had had in the past, some of the players recommended they come here," Cantwell said.
But a big part of the allure of Victoria, Waters said, is a chance to replicate the success of the tour's event in Pearland.
In just two years, the event in Pearland has become one of the tour's premier events, Waters said. The similarities between here and there, particularly the devotion of the people at the country club and the small-town feel, made it an attractive location.
"In a short amount of time, Pearland had become one of our signature events," he said. "And I just felt Victoria was a lot like Pearland with the membership that was all about making the event special for the players."
A lot of work has gone into preparing the course and the country club for the event. One hole was lengthened, a few greens needed work and several sand traps were redone, Cantwell said.
"Your dotting every I and crossing every T," he said said. "You've got it pretty much done, the big picture is there, you've got all this part of the puzzle and now you're down to the little bitty bit."
The weather has been a big help also.
"Mother Nature gave us water, and we did some verti-cutting and grooming of the greens to get them ready," Cantwell said.
Joe Mitchell Jr., who is the course's assistant golf professional, will be playing in the event. He said he's looking for a good finish but knows that the competition is higher than that of the Adams Tour events.
He's been able to get a chance to get back into practice in the last week, he said.
"They're in works with the PGA tour to try to get these guys, the top 20 on their money list, onto the Nationwide Tour," Mitchell said.