INDUSTRY, Calif. – On New Year’s Day, scientist Jane Goodall grand marshaled the 124th Tournament of Roses Parade – the 11th female to claim the highest honor of the Rose Bowl. Her performance was followed by the main course, the 99th edition of the Rose Bowl football game, the Granddaddy of Them All, as Stanford sent Wisconsin back with yet another unsettling loss.
History was filling to the brim in Pasadena, Calif., as the calendar turned to 2013. Before it all began, however, even more history was added when, for the first time, golf was featured as a new festivity at the Rose Bowl.
Hosted by the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission (LASEC) at Industry Hills Golf Club Dec. 29, the Rose Bowl Golf Game Classic matched participating fans and golfers with celebrity athletes, actors and coaches in a made-for-entertainment scramble format.
LASEC president Kathy Schloessman assembled a group of 18 golf-willing celebrities ranging from Hollywood actors to superstar athletes and even a Heisman Trophy winner. More than one hundred fans paid their dues to tee it up with their more famous playing partners.
Schloessman also booked one of the better public golf courses in the nation in selecting Industry Hills, named the top public course in the United States by the National Golf Course Owners Association in 2010.
The only remaining prerequisite for a great event was a sunny day in southern California – not an extravagant request by any means. But Mother Nature dropped the ball.
Rain soaked the course throughout the morning, keeping the golfers indoors. But fortunately for Schloessman – who did not have the option of rescheduling – the showers failed to drown the spirits of the participants.
“When we were talking about it this morning … we were going to poll the group to ask if they wanted to play or not,” Schloessman said following the event. “We talked to a few people before we did that, and everyone seemed to be excited about playing.”
After an hour-long delay and welcoming sendoff from Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, the group hit the course for what was described as a “rivalry event” between the two competing conferences – the Big Ten and Pac-12.
Any ideas of a rivalry changed abruptly from the outset, as the event became much less about a rivalry between schools and conferences and much more about a reunion of friends and football and golf fans.
Two of the participants could not be more different in stature or notoriety, linked in a way known only by school loyalty. One was Archie Griffin, the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner in the history of college football. The other, a Wisconsin Badgers fan promoting a made-for-students website allowing them to play House of Pain’s “Jump Around” in unison on their smart phones.
Both men had donned their schools particular versions of the color red, quietly thinking that their variety looked best.
Just six weeks prior, they rooted against each other as their respective schools battled in overtime at Camp Randall. Nonetheless, Wisconsin faced Ohio State again Saturday, only this time is was across a dinner table, swapping stories and laughter through sips of orange juice and bites of poppy seed muffins.
“That’s what is great about the Rose Bowl,” Griffin said, the man who claimed to have learned to golf through celebrity golf tournaments. “It has been a great pact for years and years [between the different teams] and it’s always nice to come out here.”
Both were there to celebrate the history shared at the Rose Bowl between the conferences and the 24 teams that constitute them.
The extended morning rain allowed fans to interact with their celebrity playing partners before lining up their first tee shot. Rich Sinaiko and Bob Schibel took their chance with the hour delay and became well acquainted with former Los Angeles Dodgers great Steve Garvey and his son Ryan.
Anthony Anderson joked about his reeling desire to take on fellow actor Bradley Cooper between the fairways. Actor Chris McDonald flashed the trademark handgun signal that made him famous with the character of Shooter McGavin in “Happy Gilmore.” Others cast predictions for the Rose Bowl and other upcoming bowl games.
The camaraderie and allegiance with the Pac-12, the Big Ten or the game of golf was on full display, and in Schibel’s case, it was extravagantly visible.
Sitting among fellow Wisconsin fans, he sported a Badgers hat, but stuck out with his maroon and gold Minnesota windbreaker. His allegiance to both schools is rooted not only in his Midwest hometown of Virginia, Minn., but also the fact that he spent time as a student at each school. Underneath the windbreaker was a USC Trojans golf shirt because he also spent time as a student at Southern California.
He toyed around with the idea that he might be wearing Purdue briefs, because, well, he spent some time as a student in West Lafayette as well.
Don’t forget the fact that he was at Industry Hills to actually play some golf. His collegiate-happy self from the waist up was accented by his knickers and cardinal red argyle socks.
Schibel was easily the most decorated of participants, but fit in among the crowd of golf-loving football fans happy to have ties to the Pac-12 or Big Ten. Sinaiko, his friend of 63 years, knew exactly why the pair came to play, regardless of rain or shots that climbed over par.
“We’re here for a good time with Big Ten and Pac-12 people,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how your golf game ends up.”