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Organisers have big plans for tournament’s future

The organisers of the Bermuda Golf Classic want to make the tournament a must for the best players in the National Football League.

This year's inaugural event will eventually seem small by comparison, if the big dreams of Brady Whittingham and Clarence Hofheins come to fruition.

Think ESPN coverage, a players' convention, and hundreds of athletes and their families descending on Bermuda every April and you get some idea of what the pair have in mind.

“We don't want to keep this as [just] a fun event every April,” Whittingham said. “We would like this to become the premier golf event that NFL players look forward to each year, and to do so we need to give this first group a great experience.”

In order to provide that experience, Bermuda Tourism Authority and Cambridge Beaches have thrown their weight behind the tournament, while overseas companies are also getting involved, with Rockwell, the watch company, sponsoring several elements of the week.

Players are already showing a high level of interest in the event, with the likes of Bruce Smith and Jim McMahon among a group of 52 who have signed up for next month's tournament at Port Royal Golf Course. Other notable names include Alex Smith, the Kansas City Chief's quarterback, and ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer.

Succeeding this year is “vital” for the organisers, with Whittingham describing the usual six-degrees of separation between people as no more than “one or two degrees in the NFL.”

Whittingham knows that providing a great experience in the first year will go a long way to building relationships with organisations that can elevate the event, but are reticent to get involved with a complete unknown.

“We need to take that great experience and begin establishing relationships with the organisations that can really make this a premier event,” Whittingham said.

“The National Football League Player's Association is not going to put their seal of approval on an unknown.

“[But] We want to get that seal of approval, and our goal is to almost make this an annual retreat that every player in the NFLPA has an opportunity to come to the Island if they'd like to.”

In an ideal world organisers would get to a point where they had to spread the event around all of the Island's golf courses, and could combine it with an NFL Players convention that, as Whittingham put it, is a “big time goal.”

If nothing else they would like it to eventually rival a Pro-Am of the level of the Tahoe Celebrity Golf Event. “We'd like to have that reputation,” said Whittingham, “and if we can attract some of the really good golfers among the players maybe we can make it a world championship event.”

Tourism though is the driving force behind the event, and promoting the Island as a golf destination has encouraged the BTA to get involved. However, Whittingham believes the event will have an appeal beyond the amateur golfer if it gets media coverage in the United States.

“The NFL is so broad, we are going to be appealing to golfers and non-golfers alike. There are fans [who will travel] that just love to watch their favourite players whatever they are doing.”

Big draw: Golf Classic organisers hope the event will bring in the crowds and further Bermuda's reputation as a golfing destination

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Published March 04, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated March 04, 2015 at 12:08 am)

Organisers have big plans for tournament’s future

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