VESTAL, N.Y. – Alex Alexander, the man who convinced the PGA in 1971 that a small town on New York’s Southern Tier could meet the demands of a regular stop on tour, has died. He was 88.
Alexander died Wednesday of natural causes in a nursing home while recuperating from a respiratory problem, according to Jon Karedes, tournament director for the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open on the Champions Tour.
Alexander, longtime executive director of Broome County Community Charities, was the driving force behind the B.C. Open, which was staged without a title sponsor for more than three decades at En-Joie Golf Club in nearby Endicott before its run ended in 2006.
“That’s a testament to perseverance and hard work,” Karedes said. “We know that when he left us he knew we had a good team here and would be able to carry his mission forward. He was just terrific.”
Alexander also was instrumental in replacing the B.C. Open with an event on the Champions Tour, and professional golf returned to En-Joie with the inaugural Dick’s Sporting Goods Open in 2007.
The B.C. Open was doomed when the PGA moved it opposite the British Open beginning in 2000, which assured it would be dominated by players at the lower reaches of the PGA money list or from the minor leagues of professional golf.
The quaint, small-town feel of the B.C. Open was an anomaly on a circuit dominated by big-money corporate sponsors and network television contracts. Named after the “B.C.” cartoon strip, the tournament struggled financially in one of the tour’s smallest markets.
Still,it managed to survive and raised more than $9 million for local charities before finally being eliminated, a victim to the major modifications to the tour schedule that began in 2007.