Three years ago, the idea of the JT Classic, a pro-am charity event hosted in the “friendly city” of Belleville was nothing but a dream. An ambitious one at that.
That did not deter founders Jodie Jenkins and Tim Howard, and this year the pair can proudly say that not only does their event still exist, but it is also thriving.
The 3rd annual JT Classic Pro-Am will take place, once again, at the Trillium Wood Golf Club, with even bigger goals, more sponsors, and an additional beneficiary.
The June 27 event will then be followed by the Belleville Open, a new two-round event on The Great Lakes Tour, a developmental pro golf circuit that attracts some top talent.
Amateurs hoping to play in the pro-am are now out of luck, it’s been sold out for a couple of months now, but that is a great thing for the charities and all involved.
This year the funds raised by the events will go to the new Grace Inn Shelter as well as the Canadian Mental Health Association, Hastings and Pince Edward Branch.
The public response to the event has been tremendous and Jenkins is appreciative.
“I think it is exciting, as I mentioned, you know, we’re in our third year, and to go from a field of about 90 to 120, to now 144, with 36 pros plus the two day championship event called the Belleville Open, I think it’s a great evolution,” Jenkins shared at a recent announcement hosted by the Shorelines Casino, a big supporter of the event. They will play host to a pro-am pairing party on June 26th.
The Great Lakes Tour Alliance
The event is the only pro-am of its kind in the region, and the alliance with The Great Lakes Tour brings with it a higher level of professional golfer in the field. That’s a big attraction for the amateurs.
“I don’t think I would have predicted that it would happen that fast but our partnership with The Great Lakes Tour has been nothing short of phenomenal. The players that are coming; I would challenge that we have one of the deepest fields for a 36-man event in, possibly, the country. We’re pretty happy with where we’re at,” said Jenkins.
Among the list of players committed to the event are some of the best emerging talents in the country and some players already well-known to golf fans as members of the Canadian-based Mackenzie Tour, or as players on the Web.com or PGA TOUR.
They include big hitting Taylor Pendrith, Kingston product Austin James, Belleville’s own Web.com Tour winner Jon Mills, 2002 PGA TOUR winner Ian Leggatt, and former Team Canada staple Blair Hamilton, to name just a few.
And there will be more than your traditional touring pros in the field, a couple of the people who can hit the golf long longer than anyone on the planet will be coming to Belleville. That includes 2018 World Long Drive Champion Maurice Allen and another top long driver, Wes Patterson.
Jenkins shared some insight on how he attracted the champion to their Pro-Am.
“Building relationships is important, there is no way you get Maurice Allen to just come to Belleville, Ontario on a whim. I’ve been fostering this relationship; we’ve known each other going on one and a half two years now. I spent time with him when I was down in Orlando this past year, so it’s good. And Wes Patterson, he’s no slouch either. If you know the Kingslayer moniker it comes from him beating the top guys; twice he’d beat Maurice. That’s why they call him the Kingslayer. My sources say that Wes is an accomplished professional as well so I am anxious to see that and Maurice is taking this seriously, he’s not coming to embarrass himself. He’s not coming to shoot 95. The draw of just having those guys here is incredible. We expect people are going to come and want to see them.”
The goal this year is to reach $25,000 raised with the tally to date at around $15,000. That’s a long way from zero on day one and Jenkins feels there are many reasons for the success. That said, they are looking to have this event continue to make an impact in the community, beyond entertaining golfers and golf fans.
“When we started this event we always wanted to do multiple organizations because I feel there are good connections with the groups we have helped, i.e. Big Brothers, Big Sisters the first year,” noted Jenkins about charity involvement.
“Tim and I both have a heart for that. Obviously, The Grace Inn has been a passion of mine, we’re excited about that, and the Canadian Mental Health (Association) is a perfect fit. We’ve both been dealing with people that face mental illnesses and Sandie (Sidsworth) and her team at CMHA have been great supporters of ours so anything we can do to kind of return that is what we want to do. We hope that in the years to come, especially as we grow the championships rounds; I’d liked to say that at some point it could be a four-day event with a cut but we’re not there yet. But that’s going also potentially turn into helping more charitable causes as well. At the end of the day being able to help multiple organizations is great and CMHA and The Grace Inn fits together perfectly.”
Those interested in knowing more about the JT Classic Pro-Am can find their page on Facebook at this link.