Dalhousie continues effort to be inclusive

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

It's difficult to feel sympathy for successful ventures.

Especially those that center around golf, a sport that can't shake its upper-class association.

And especially country club golf, which conjures images of stuffed-shirt elitism harpooned in "Caddyshack."

Dalhousie Golf Club has rubbed some people in Cape Girardeau that way.

It's ranked No. 1 in the state of Missouri, you know. Golf Digest just released that news in its May 2007 edition.

It's in a run of hosting events for the Missouri Golf Association, the Gateway Section PGA and the American Junior Golf Association.

The AJGA folks came to Cape Girardeau on Monday for the news conference to confirm some news that actually was news back in September, when it was first reported that Dalhousie would be hosting an event for the top junior circuit in the country. This is the golf series where Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Paula Creamer grew up playing golf.

The AJGA is coming to town in June, then again in 2008, and then it will bring its Rolex Tournament of Champions to Dalhousie in 2009.


It's been a good stretch for Dalhousie.

Not everyone in Cape Girardeau is celebrating.

The people who run Dalhousie have an inkling that snaring honors within the golf community isn't enough alone to create community goodwill. They're not deterred.

In fact, they're willing to throw around olive branches when needed.

Last week, for instance, high school golfers from 16 area schools dug up a few divots on the state's No. 1 course during the inaugural Saxony Lutheran Invitational golf tournament. And Saxony Lutheran's first-year golf program has picked up a big boost from having Dalhousie as its home course.

"Our commitment to amateur and junior golf is not a fabrication," Dalhousie founding member Cord Dombrowski said. "It's not something we do to be politically correct."

It was announced Monday that Saxony is one of six area high schools -- joining Central, Jackson, Notre Dame, Advance and Sikeston -- that could stand to benefit from the fund-raising aspects of the AJGA tournament. Those members of the SEMO Conference can earn funds by coordinating tournament volunteers and by selling tickets for a drawing that will award a 2-year lease on a new car. There also is a junior-am tournament.

The funds for each school's golf program could run into the thousands of dollars.

That's all well and good for golfers.

But Dalhousie wants the AJGA event to be something more than that.

So who was sitting at the opposite end of the table from Dombrowski in Monday's news conference? Cape Girardeau's motorcycle-ridin', one-time-baseball-playin', former-pro-hockey-refereein' mayor, Jay Knudtson.

He and Dalhousie founder Cord Dombrowski are tournament co-chairs. They were on opposite ends of the tax-increment financing proposal for Dalhousie's residential community back in 2003.

"We worked through it, and I believe in Cord Dombrowski," Knudtson said after the news conference. "He has made a significant financial investment with no assistance, and I believe the city has an obligation to assist people who make that kind of investment. It's just a philosophy I have.

"I'm not a member here," Knudtson added. "I support this because it's important for the community. Other people may think that is not what city hall should be doing, but we want to work together to bring the resources of the city to make sure this is a successful event."

Dombrowski calls the AJGA event a win-win-win for the junior tour, the golf course and the region.

He and Knudtson both emphasized the importance of bringing 144 junior golfers and their parents from 15 to 20 states for a look-see at Cape Girardeau, for a look at the state's No. 1 golf course and a taste of the Southeast Missouri hospitality.

Knudtson called the target audience "a new segment" -- people who have the time and money to take golf seriously, and they could have an economic impact on Cape Girardeau because of it.

In that regard, Dalhousie is another attractive resource for the region.

But still, it's a resource that is not appreciated by everyone.

That doesn't faze Dombrowski.

"We're so focused on what we're doing," he said. "Are we batting 1.000? Probably not, but are we close? Yea. We take our time with our decisions and we do it the right way. In a very short time, the results and the accolades in the industry validates what we're doing.

"I know our plan is solid and we're slowly gaining a good, solid reputation. It's a great facility, and we're proud of it."

No sympathy needed.

Toby Carrig is sports editor of the Southeast Missourian and semoball.com.

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