TAMPA, Florida (Feb. 20, 2014) -- Each year Tampa celebrates a mock pirate invasion as part of the Gasparilla Pirate Festival in late January or early February. The Palma Ceia Country Club has, in turn, hosted some of the best regional and national amateur golfers at their Gasparilla Invitational.
This year, a fungus overtook the greens of the host club, forcing them to cancel the event fairly close to the tournament date. In testimony to the Board of Directors, they handled this with class, even offering to reimburse entered players for non-recoverable expenses incurred to compete.
My guess is that any competitor coming out of a cold winter in the Northeast, Midwest, or just about anywhere that isn't California, Arizona, or Florida is bound to visit the area anyway and enjoy some golf at other courses. For your information, a copy of the letter posted to competitors is included below.
It is with sincere regret that we inform you that the 59th Annual Gasparilla Invitational Golf Tournament has been cancelled. Over the last month, we have experienced a fungus on several of our greens. We have been working with some of the industries' best consultants to remedy this situation, and have made some progress. However, after aggressively treating the symptoms of this fungus, the culture of our greens during this time of year is not conducive to a total cure. Cold, damp, cloudy days enhance the environment for this fungus to prosper.
Weather permitting, there was a chance our greens could recover by tournament time, but we are not willing to take that chance as it could jeopardize the quality of the venue we're committed to provide for our participants. Simply stated, our greens today do not meet our tournament standards, and we can't guarantee they will be totally cured by February 20th.
This is the first time in the 59 year history of the tournament that we've had to cancel the event. This is not a decision that was made without serious consideration of any and all hardship this causes for our participants. Therefore we will begin to process returns of the entry fees in a week. Also, in an effort to minimize the hardship this decision may cause you, our Board of Directors has agreed to reimburse participants for all reasonable, documented, non-recoverable expenses that you have incurred. Please understand the logistics of this commitment are unprecedented, but we are committed to do the best we can to help solve your financial hardship. Additionally, we would like to extend an invitation to play our course any time over the next year and we'll waive all greens and cart fees to accommodate you. We hope this will provide you the opportunity to prepare for next year's tournament.
On behalf of our entire club, board of directors, and tournament committees, we are deeply appreciative of your patronage and understanding of this regretful situation. Also, please know that we all remain very enthusiastic about the future of this tournament and our goal of making the GIGT one of the best amateur tournaments in the country.
Sincerely, Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club