PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- The Monterey Peninsula Golf Foundation, the organization which stages the annual Bing Crosby National Pro-Am, welcomed a change of heart by Bing's widow Friday and then announced it has reached an agreement with AT&T as a sponsor of the celebrity event.
Kathryn Crosby stunned golf fans last Monday when she announced she was pulling her late husband's name from the tournament because she did not want to share sponsorship with a corporation for fear of an eventual takeover and over-commercialization of Bing's name and image.
After a week of announcemnts including two from Bing's sons Harry and Nathaniel, who are against severing the connection with the Monterey Peninsula Golf Fopundation, Kathryn said Thursday she was willing to re-consider but under the condition that some members of the Foundation sever their relationship with the tournament and she and her family maintain control of the celebrity invitation list.
The foundation, in a four paragraph announcement Friday, did not allude in any way to Mrs. Crosby's conditions, and a spokesman for the group declined further comment. In the statement, the Foundation said it has 'the basis of an agreement with a company (AT&T) which has offered us a substantial support.'
This year's Crosby Clambake, a four-day carnival like event featuring 168 professionals and 168 amateurs, made a reported profit of around $1 million for the Bing Crosby Charities. Because of that success, Mrs. Crosby has been reluctant to cut in a company such as AT&T. She said she is afraid that once AT&T gets in it will change the format of the tournament, meaning less and less celebrities will be invited to play in the Pro-Am and their places will be filled by vice presidents from the business world.
The Foundation, under prodding by the PGA, has been looking for a corporate sponsor for more than a year. The PGA has pressured the tournament to increase its prize money for the pros, even though the Crosby consistently has had one of the top purses on the PGA Tour. This year's event carried a $500,000 purse.
In it's statement Friday, the Foundation said, in part:
'We are pleased to learn that Mrs. Crosby has expressed an interest in reconsidering her decision to withdraw from the golf tournament which has borne the Crosby name for nearly 50 years.
'That is good news for everyone in the world of golf. It has been our intention from the start to do everything possible to maintain the family's interest in this great event ...
'In order to help us assure success ... the foundation has felt it advisable to attract a corporate sponsor which could help the tournament move confidently forward in the future. We, too, share Mrs. Crosby's desire of preserving the integrity of the tournament and to that end we do not feel it would be appropiate to entertain additional corporate support proposals after we have made what we regard a solid commitment to AT&T.'