A quote from Waldo McNaught the public relations Director at Buick from 1951-1959. This is from the book "The Good Old Day's At The Buick". "There's been a lot of misinformation over the years as to how the Buick Open got started. The beginning was when some people like Chuck Kelly, Bruce Pollock, and some others got together to start a housing development near Grand Blanc that they called Warwick Hills. They knew how to build houses, but they didn't know how to get a gold club going. They had Warwick Realty and were going to sell all these lots, so Chuck Kelly came to me and asked if I would start a golf club. I was mad at Flint Golf Club, so I said I would start it. I then wrote the original letters inviting a number of people to become members of the new Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club. The first letter brought a good response, maybe seventy-five joined at the initial cost of the two thousand dollars. After we got the course built, I think maybe Jerry Rideout (Buick Public Relations Director) said we ought to have a golf tournament. I said "Fine. We'll do it at Warwick." That's how we started the Buick Open golf tournament, and Rideout didn't have a damned thing to do with it for the next three years. He wasn't even a Warwick member. He was out playing golf at Atlas Valley. I called the PGA about sponsoring a tournament and they came to Grand Blanc and walked around the course. They weren't a bit impressed. I told them we were planning a fifty-thousand dollar purse. That impressed them. That made it the biggest golf tournament in the world. After the PGA agreed to go along with us, I really had to get busy. I didn't know where to get the fifty-thousand dollars because I didn't plan to get it from Buick. As it turned out we paid everything out of the program book that we sold ads for. The tournament was self supporting every year I was there. I never got a nickel from Buick. The Buick Open got off to a good start. Billy Casper beat Arnold Palmer for the championship in a playoff. We wanted something for the people in Flint, especially the guys in the plants, so we charged only a dollar admission. That included free parking. At a party after the tournament, Mr. Curtice (President Of General Motors) asked me how it was going. I told him it was going very well. Ragsdale, who was standing there and who was the general manager (of Buick) at the time, said that maybe the tournament was going well, but as far as he was concerned it was the last golf tournament Buick would sponsor. Curtice turned to him and said, "I don't understand that. This young man has got something going here. There's nothing else like it in the business." That stopped Ragsdale cold. He said something like "I was only kidding." Ragsdale was not a golfer. He had no idea about the tournament. He didn't even know that' it wasn't costing Buick a penny. But eventually he decided he liked it out at Warwick Hills and he built a house two doors from me"...... Gerry say's "The Buick Open was established in 1958. The Good Old Day's At The Buick was published in 1990. I do not know when Buick took over the sponsorship.
Wow. Thank you, Gerry.
Thanks for commenting. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at www.teardownbook.com.