A bubble-gum card collection come to life has been lined up by Dinah Shore for the pro-amateur prelude to her $400,000 Ladies Professional Golf Assn. tournament this week at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage.
When the two-day event tees off Tuesday, 21 legends of sports from baseball, football, basketball, tennis and hockey will be displaying their golfing talents in the charity event. The fun will end Wednesday afternoon, though, and the women pros will get down to the business of their first major championship of 1985 on Thursday.
Defending champion Juli Inkster will be going for a $1-million bonus offered the golfer who wins Dinah’s tournament two consecutive years. She also will be shooting for the $55,000 first prize, as will all of the others.
Two of baseball’s greatest center fielders, Joe DiMaggio and Willie Mays, are among the sports celebrities who will be paired with the LPGA pros. Johnny Bench, Ernie Banks and Joe Garagiola will also represent baseball. Basketball will have John Havlicek, Bob Cousy and Ann Meyers. From tennis there will be Rod Laver and Bobby Riggs, and from hockey Rod Gilbert and Bobby Orr.
The largest number are football players, all former quarterbacks or running backs except for wide receiver Dwight Clark of the Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers. The others are Paul Hornung, Charlie Conerly, Frank Gifford, Otto Graham, Bill Kilmer, Don Meredith and Alex Webster.
Chuck Fairbanks, who coached the University of Oklahoma and the New England Patriots of the NFL after a college career as an end on Michigan State’s national championship team, is also playing, but he fits another category. Fairbanks is vice president of the Landmark Land Co., which owns the Mission Hills course.
There will be other celebrities, as well, among them Shore herself, former President Gerald Ford, Bob Hope, Claude Akins, Les Brown, Kathryn Crosby, Phil Harris, Jamie Farr, Dennis James, Jack Lemmon, Dina Merrill, Gary Morton, Mousie Powell, Buddy Rogers, Wayne Rogers, Robert Stack, Buck Trent and Andy Williams.
There also will be a Nabisco women’s pro-am Monday at the Club in Morningside. That will be a fivesome scramble with a shotgun start, according to Laurie Johnson, who arranged the event for the wives of tournament officials.
Among the LPGA golfers competing in the 18-hole event will be Nancy Lopez, Pat Bradley, Donna White, Janet Coles and Marlene Hagge.
Desert Hospital, United Way of the Desert and the Boys Club of Palm Springs are the major beneficiaries of the Nabisco Dinah Shore tournament.
Golf Notes Ken Tanigawa of Bel-Air and Tracy Nakamura of Monterey Park will defend their championships this week in the 35th annual Los Angeles City boys’ and girls’ tournaments at Griffith Park. The 36-hole tournaments will be played Monday and Tuesday on the Wilson and Harding courses. Nakamura, who was 15 at the time, defeated Pearl Sinn of Bellflower in a seven-hole playoff last year. Sinn competed last week in the GNA tournament against LPGA professionals at Oakmont CC and finished in a tie for 15th. . . . When the Korean girl won the California state girls’ championship and was runner-up for the L.A. title last year, she was Pearl Sin. Now she spells her name Sinn. Why? “There is no translation from one alphabet to another,” she said. “So when my parents came over here from Seoul, people spelled their name with one n. Last year, when they became naturalized, they changed it with two.”
Perseverance does pay off. Mac O’Grady, who was Phil McGleno when he quarterbacked Hamilton High a few years back, tried 17 times to qualify for the PGA tour before making it. Last week, in the Panasonic tournament in Las Vegas, he earned $64,000 and is now the 12th-leading money winner on the tour. . . . The first California-Japanese tournament, open to all California males of Japanese descent, will be played over two weekends at L.A. (formerly Pomona) National. The first 36 holes are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, with the low 50 continuing the final round April 14. . . . The American Golfers Assn. will play April 10-13 at Pala Mesa. . . . Collegians will be at the UC Irvine Invitational April 8 at Big Canyon CC. . . . Two longtime Southland golfing personalities, Chet Coleman and Lew Snowden, died earlier this month. Coleman was head professional at Inglewood CC before retiring in 1974, and Snowden had been official scorer at SoCal PGA events for many years.
Former Indy 500 winner Tom Sneva has entered the third annual Long Beach Grand Prix charity tournament April 9 at Recreation Park. . . . Other imminent charity events: Love Boat Invitational, Monday at Wilshire CC, for the California Special Olympics; Ronald McDonald House tournament, April 8 at Industry Hills, for the families of children undergoing treatment for cancer and other serious illnesses; McLean Stevenson tournament, April 13 at Industry Hills, for the National Burn Foundation.
The consensus is that the GNA tournament at Oakmont was the finest, and best attended, LPGA event ever held in the Los Angeles area, dating back to the 1955 Los Angeles Open won by Louise Suggs at the long-gone Portero Hills CC course. . . . After Dinah Shore’s tournament this week, the LPGA will move to San Diego for the $175,000 Kyocera Inamori Tournament at Fairbanks Ranch CC, where the cross-country portions of the Olympic equestrian events were held. . . . The Golden State Tour has a busy schedule the next two weeks. Pros, amateurs and seniors play Monday at California CC, with pros only playing April 8 at Rainbow Canyon in Temecula. Seniors only will play April 12 at Mesquite CC in Palm Springs, followed by the Mid-Amateur championships April 13-14 on the same course for players 25 and over. . . . An Industry Hills team led by pro Jim Porter, including Marion Schuster, Betty McDonald and Irene Charles, won the L.A. County Women’s Golf Assn. pro-member championship at California CC. Low pro was Jerry Wisz of Almansor with 67, followed by Pat Chartrand of Rolling Hills, 70, and Porter, 71.