By Jeff Odom
After 25 years, the Tampa Bay Pro-Am golf tournament appears to be coming to an end.
The PGA Champions Tour event, which is hosted by TPC Tampa Bay in Lutz, is without a major title sponsorship for the first time. Without one, the tournament will not return in 2013.
“We would like to express to you our commitment and passion for this charity golf tournament as we look to find a title sponsor,” said Chris Sullivan, Outback Steakhouse co-founder and Tampa Bay Pro-Am Foundation co-chairman in a release. “We are hopeful that we will be successful in finding the necessary level of sponsorship to host the tournament in 2013.”
In order to reduce expenses, the Pro-Am was forced to cut its entire tournament staff.
Encompass Insurance, the 2012 title sponsor, announced it would not return in the same capacity following last year’s event.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Ronde Barber, who has played as a celebrity in the Pro-Am since 1997, told The Laker/Lutz News in April he was hopeful a business would step up to fill the void.
“You really hope that it stays here, and it’s such a good event,” Barber said.
Tournament director Amy Hawk said she is grateful for the support the Lutz community has shown during the years.
“On behalf of the board of directors, tournament staff, volunteers and the Tampa Bay Pro-Am Foundation, we are humbled by the support that you have shown the tournament,” Hawk said.
Along with an estimated economic impact of $9 million added to the local economy annually, the Pro-Am has contributed more than $9 million to various Tampa Bay area charities since its inception, according to Hawk.
“We are hopeful that we can find a sponsor for 2013 so that our community does not lose an event that has given so much back over the past 25 years,” Hawk said.
For more information on the Tampa Bay Pro-Am, visit www.tampabayproam.com.
–Editor Kyle LoJacono contributed to this report