HAVRE de GRACE, Md. - It has been some run.
But after 29 years, the relationship between McDonald's and the LPGA will come to an end Sunday afternoon at Bulle Rock Golf Course. So how do you say goodbye to something that has been such a large part of your life for that long? Frank Quinn, who in 1981 co-founded with Herb Lotman what started out as the McDonald's Kids Classic, has had 12 months to ponder that. It hasn't made this week any easier.
"I'm certainly going to miss it, tremendously," Quinn said yesterday, at what in 1994 became the McDonald's LPGA Championship, the second major on the women's tour. "It's the personal satisfaction you get from being involved with such a great endeavor. It's the human interaction, the people and the faces. Absolutely. It's the connections. I've seen many of the same people every year I've done this. They had the same goals as we did. How do you put a value on that?"
The tournament, in its various forms at three different venues, has raised close to $50 million. About a third of that went to local charities. That's quite a legacy.
"I will say that Herb wanted to make this the Masters of the LPGA Tour," Quinn said. "And I think he succeeded. I didn't have the vision he had. I just wanted to raise some money to help kids. Some years, I was stunned by how much. I'm a very lucky person, to have been able to act on the opportunity. That's a wonderful feeling. My focus this week is to go around and thank as many volunteers as I can. I know altruism is something that gives back tenfold.
"Think of all the lives we've touched. You can't really quantify that. It just goes on and on."
And now, maybe it's simply time for someone else to take over and run with it. The LPGA will own and operate its flagship event, even though there's still no site or presenting sponsor in place for 2010.
But the future is somebody else's dilemma. Quinn can only look back and savor all the memories. *