The Buick Open, held each year in Grand Blanc, Michigan, has been honored by the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.
It’s the first event recognized by the Hall—beating out even the legendary annual Michigan-Ohio State football showdown.
Now fifty years old, the Buick Open set the stage for all modern tournament events. Buick was the first corporate sponsor of a tour event. In its first year, it had the Tour’s largest purse. The total was $52,000, with the winner taking home $9,000—a princely sum in those days. The first winner was Billy Casper. Arnold Palmer and Ted Kroll were runners up.
The list of winners from the tournament’s early days is a who’s who of Hall of Famers: Jack Burke, Julius Boros, and Tony Lema all were winners. But with the money they were offering, that’s not surprising.
I attended the Buick Open at Warwick this last summer and really enjoyed walking the course (you can see course photos here). It’s not super long—nor would I say particularly difficult looking—but Warwick Hills definitely is a classic. The most exciting hole has to be the Par 3 17th, shown at left. That shot over the pond and the fronting bunker has to be nerve wracking.
There apparently are a number of big events planned for the 50th Anniversary celebration this summer.