By Fred Altvater
Toledo has hosted a continuous event on the LPGA Tour since 1984, but long before the Marathon Classic, or Jamie Farr Toledo Classic, a future Hall of Famer, Sandra Haynie won one of the tour’s largest checks, at the time, in the 1966 Glass City Classic.
Haynie fired a final-round one-under-par 70 to catch the second-round leader, Gloria Ehret, to force a playoff. Ehret was seeking her first win on the LPGA Tour, but eight-time LPGA Tour champion, Haynie holed a 28-foot putt on the third playoff hole, to capture her second win of the year and pocket the large first-place check.
At that time, the 1966 Glass City Classic offered the richest prize in LPGA Tour history. The total purse of $25,000 was $5,000 more than the U.S. Women’s Open that year and more than double the average tour stop. Haynie’s winning check of $3,750 was second only to the $4,000 Sandra Spuzich collected for winning the U.S. Women’s Open in July.
One month earlier, Haynie had won the Buckeye Savings Classic at Cincinnati’s Clovernook Country Club. She would add two more victories in 1966 at the at the Alamo Ladies Open and Pensacola Ladies Invitational. The combined total for those two winning checks $3,375 was $325 less than she received for her win in Toledo.
Haynie’s and Ehret’s stars would cross again later that year. Although Ehret lost in Toledo to the veteran, she would go on collect her inaugural LPGA Tour win a scant three weeks later in Las Vegas at the LPGA Championship. Haynie was the defending champion having won the 1965 LPGA Championship at the same Stardust Country Club, now known as Las Vegas National Golf Club.
The Stardust sat along the “Vegas Strip” and in those days, was a favorite hangout for, Frank, Deano, Sammy and the rest of the “Rat Pack.”
That same year, LPGA Legend, Kathy Whitworth led the women’s tour with nine wins and earned a total of $33,517. The LPGA Tour had been formed in 1950 and after 16 years the tour’s average purses were $10,000 with $1,500 going to the winner.
Details on why Toledo amassed the large purse are sketchy at best. Former Toledo Blade sportswriter, Dave Hackenberg, told us, Warren “Bullet” Bell, a former professional basketball player and husband of Peggy Kirk Bell, had close ties with local glass manufacturers. He induced them to host the event with a guarantee that Bell, a Findlay native and one of the major stars on the LPGA Tour, would grace the field to guarantee a marquee name.
This was not the first LPGA tournament that had been held in Toledo. In 1954, Inverness hosted the LPGA Four-Ball another one and done women’s event. The 1966 Glass City Classic, however, made a big splash in women’s golf with its massive purse and first-place check.
Today the Marathon Classic continues the great tradition of hosting the best women golfers every year.