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Blast from the past: A look at the history of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open

(WBNG) – After 48 years and a name change, The Dick’s Sporting Goods Open has become a big part of Broome County History.

“It definitely put Binghamton on the map,” said Broome County Historian, Roger Luther.

Crowned as the biggest sporting event in the Southern Tier, what was once the “B.C. Open” has just as big of a history to match.

The Broome County Historical Society houses scrapbooks filled with newspaper articles and memorabilia from every decade of the golf tournament.

“They weigh probably about 50 pounds each,” said Luther.

Luther says the scrap books tell the origin story of how the B.C. Open began.

“Back in 1970, there was a group of golfers at the En-Joie golf course and they were meeting in the clubhouse after a game and they were sitting around and one of them said ‘hey wouldn’t it be neat if we started holding tournaments here,” said Luther.

One of those golfers, Alex Alexander, helped turn that idea into a reality.

“Alexander was working against impossible odds. First of all to convince the PGA it should be held in Binghamton. He was a super salesman apparently. He did an excellent selling job. It was a big deal,” said Luther.

The tournament was then named the B.C. Open and was inspired by the comic strip that made Broome County known across the nation.

“The BC comic strip was a perfect fit for the BC Open… and the trophy was a B.C. comic character,” said Luther.

As the tournament grew, it brought some of the country’s biggest celebrities and performers to the Southern Tier as well.

“Bob Hope was here, Dick Clark was here, and Nelson Rockefeller was here. It just started evolving into a major thing,” said Luther.

The scrapbooks also includes pictures and autographed memorabilia from legendary golfers who play at En-Joie.

“This is a list of pairings for the pro am game and whoever had it got it signed by Arnold Palmer,”said Luther.

The final B.C. Open was held in 2006, after a massive flood rocked the county and damaged the En-Joie golf course, causing the tournament to move to a different location that year.

“The flood had to be a tough time… The flood has just happened so it couldn’t be played at the same course… at the same time, in 2007, Jonny Hart passed away so everything kind of came to an end to the BC Open at that time,” said Luther.

The next year however, the name of the tournament was changed to the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open, and the rest as they say was history.

“People were just committed and dedicated to this project and it brought a lot of people to this area,” said Luther.

Tyler Brown

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