Buick, the automaker that served as the foundation when General Motors was created a century ago in 1908, has announced it is also commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first Buick Open golf tournament.
Buick, the automaker that served as the foundation when General Motors was created a century ago in 1908, has announced it is also commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first Buick Open golf tournament.. Click image to enlarge

Grand Blanc, Michigan – Buick, the automaker that served as the foundation when General Motors was created a century ago in 1908, has announced it is also commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first Buick Open golf tournament.

Buick executives first decided to sponsor a professional golf tournament in 1958, to help corporate parent GM celebrate its 50th birthday. The PGA Tour today credits Buick as its first corporate sponsor, and Buick officials say they believe the tournament was one of the first events in any sport to be named for a corporate sponsor.

“It’s a great event for the fans, as demonstrated by the big galleries we attract every year – crowds that certainly benefit the economy of southeast Michigan,” said Larry Peck, manager of golf marketing for Buick. “The players love the course and the total event, as you can tell by the fact that many of the biggest stars consistently return. The tournament generates millions of dollars for charities, and it’s a perfect sport for marketing our cars.”

Crowd favourites in the early years included Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Sam Snead and Tony Lema. In recent years, Tiger Woods has been credited with significantly boosting attendance. The tournament is annually played at Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club in Grand Blanc Township, south of Flint, where Buick was headquartered from 1903 to 1998.

The earliest tournaments featured low admission prices and free parking, and a generous purse of US$52,000. This year’s event, which will be held June 23 to 29, will have a record purse of US$5 million, with a first prize of US$900,000 and a new Buick. The tournament usually draws over 100,000 spectators, and since 1982, when such records were first kept, more than US$9 million will have been raised for Buick Open charities by the end of this year’s event.

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