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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Horseshoe Bend takes "giant leap" with tour event

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Spilling coffee on your Blackberry can't be a good thing.

Especially when that Blackberry contains map directions to a place you've never been before.

But that's just what happened to LPGA Legends Tour player Jan Stephenson after flying into Springfield and preparing to drive from there to Horseshoe Bend for a reception spotlighting the Horseshoe Bend Invitational Sept. 28-29.

So without the use of the directions in her now-caffeinated Blackberry unit, Stephenson was forced to do things the old-fashioned way. With paper maps.

Only problem was, she couldn't find a map of Arkansas in Missouri, despite stopping at several convenience stores between Springfield and the Arkansas state line.

Still, like the pro she is, Stephenson managed to make it to The Golf Course at Turkey Mountain for her reception June 29, although she was a little bit off schedule, time-wise.

But for the crowd gathered inside The Loft for the reception, Stephenson's tardiness had one positive effect. It cut down on the time and size of the speech Horseshoe Bend Mayor Bob Barnes had prepared.

"I've got a speech that's only an hour-and-a-half long," joked Barnes as he took the podium. "But you can thank Jan for being late, so I threw half the speech away."

While Barnes got the crowd going with his good-natured humor, it didn't take long before the mayor focused on the work that has went into bringing The Legends Tour to Horseshoe Bend.

"This is a super, super great thing for Horseshoe Bend," he said. "And what makes Horseshoe Bend so great is the volunteers we have. Everybody here steps up to the plate and does their job and never complains. Horseshoe Bend is taking some giant leaps these days. We've got some people here now that think outside the box and they don't take no for an answer. Chuck (McNeight, the tournament director and Turkey Mountain golf pro) asked me a year or so ago if I thought this thing (Horseshoe Bend Invitational) would work. I've always been the kind that thinks this is America and you can do what you want if you really set your mind to it."

And set their minds to it they did, despite some negative reaction from doubters as the event began to take motion.

"I know Chuck has faced a lot of nay-sayers and people that told him this will never work," Barnes said. "But Chuck never looked back, he just kept moving forward. He's put in more time and more effort than people will really know or understand. And now that giant leap is The LPGA Legends Tour in Horseshoe Bend, Ar. Chuck has worked his tail off on this event. There will be no cost whatsoever to MRID or the city of Horseshoe Bend for this event. Absolutely no cost at all."

However, the whole region stands to gain considerably from not only the exposure the Horseshoe Bend Invitational will give to north central Arkansas, but the increased traffic through the area, as well.

"It will impact the community and north central Arkansas, no doubt," said Barnes. "Chuck put some numbers together that I believe are ultra, ultra conservative. But his figure, based on how you figure economic impact, is $2.8 million to Horseshoe Bend and north central Arkansas. Horseshoe Bend has always been a leader and I believe this event is going to change things around this part of the state. We have the true legends of golf here. These players have already proven themselves. These names are already in the Hall of Fame. This event will not only touch people in north central Arkansas and south central Missouri, but from all over, as well. We've already had some folks from Canada make reservations for that week. So we're changing Horseshoe Bend right now."

Barnes then presented Stephenson with a diamond to welcome her and The Legends Tour to Horseshoe Bend.

"As mayor, I've had the wonderful opportunity to give out two keys to our city -- one to one of our original founders and the other to Mr. Gene Williams, probably our most famous citizen. But a key is not truly worthy of you," he said. "You being the diamond that you are, and Arkansas being the diamond state -- the only state where you can mine diamonds and keep what you find -- I present to you this Natural State diamond from Horseshoe Bend."

During his time at the podium, McNeight reminded the audience the real reason why The Legends Tour was coming to Horseshoe Bend.

"One of the things we want to keep in mind is what this is all for," he said. "We're thrilled and tickled to death to have these legends coming to Horseshoe Bend, but the reason for this whole event is to benefit Arkansas Children's Hospital. That is our only charity and that will continue over the five-year run of this event. Our job is to raise as much money for Arkansas Children's Hospital as we can."

Heather Zimmerman, a representative from Arkansas Children's Hospital, said, "We are absolutely thrilled to be a part of this tournament. This donation will make a big difference to Arkansas Children's Hospital. We're the only children's hospital in the state and we also have a burn unit that treats adults. So that's another part this donation will help."

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Please permit me to say "Well done" to all those involved or who will be involved over the years to The Mayer, Bob Barnes, Chuck McNeight of Turkey Mountain Golf pro and all of Horseshoe Bender's who got behind them and made this tournament a real, living, breathing, happening for The Children's Hospital...Since moving from Horseshoe Bend to mid-Missouri 7 years ago I have visited often, and each and every time I have been back, wishing there was a way I could move back. Horseshoe Bend captured mine and my now deceased husbands hearts, way back in the '80's and still hold's mine captive yet today, and as much as I love the "Little/Big City", I still have not managed to move back, my loss, am sure...I try to keep up with what's happening in Horseshoe Bend and send best wishes to all...Pauline Tyner

-- Posted by granny_rocks on Sat, Jul 12, 2008, at 1:54 PM

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