The 25th annual Bob Lilly Celebrity Golf Classic, benefiting the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, brings together sports stars past and present with players from central Texas with the goal of capitalizing on Texas’ most important sports sanctuary.
The annual two-day event takes place on Friday and Saturday at the newly renovated Bear Ridge Golf Club and includes a Friday night gala at the Texas Sports Hall of Fame on University Parks Drive.
“We have so many dedicated sports stars and celebrities who come out each year to help and support the Hall of Fame,” said tournament chairman Bland Cromwell. “It’s hugely important as a fundraiser for the hall and as a chance to get our message out to so many people.”
Three-person teams for Friday afternoon and Saturday morning golf at Bear Ridge, each paired with a celebrity, are nearly sold out. However, tickets are still available for Friday night’s dinner featuring a silent and live auction at the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.
“It’s a great event and time to meet with sports legends, a great dinner and a priceless auction,” added TSHOF General Manager Jay Black.
This is the second year that the tournament, which will be held on two separate days to minimize player delays, will be held at Bear Ridge, but attendance from sports stars and celebrities is as strong as ever.
Some of the most regular sports stars and celebrities returning to Waco this weekend include former Baylor and Chicago Bears running back Dennis Gentry, former Dallas Cowboys tight end Billy Joe DuPree, legendary former Baylor track coach Clyde Hart, and Lilly, a pro football player Hall of Famer for the Cowboys.
The tournament first began with Cowboys head coach Tom Landry, the mission native and inductee of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, as honorary chairman. When he died, Cromwell asked former Waco resident and Dallas Cowboys superstar defensive tackle Bob Lilly to serve as honorary chairman.
“I went down to ask Bob if he would help us with the death of Coach Landry and he said he would for a year,” Cromwell said. “That was about 20 year-old signings ago and he’s been there every year to help us and to encourage his friends and former players to help as well.”
Also scheduled to help out at golf and Friday dinner this weekend are Dallas Cowboys Pro Football Hall of Fame defenseman Mel Renfro and legendary Baylor quarterbacks Don Trull and Seth Russell. Former University of Texas pitching star Greg Swindell will be in attendance along with former Texas A&M quarterback Edd Hargett and former Cowboys linebacker Rodrigo Barnes.
Other former Baylor greats include running back Alfred Anderson and wide receiver/kick returner Gerald McNeil, Texas Tech linebacker Tracy Saul and University of Houston receivers Alois Blackwell and Jason Phillips, and Major League Baseball manager Art Howe.
“We have a lot of celebrities telling us this is one of the best golf tournaments they play all year and one of the funniest,” Cromwell said. “It makes me feel good because they recognize the good work we are doing to promote sports in Texas and the Sports Sanctuary of Central Texas.”
While the hall was relocated from Grand Prairie to Waco in 1993, it receives no government funding and thrives on donations raised from daily visitors along with annual induction ceremonies, which this year included quarterback Robert Griffin III, who played the Baylor Won the Heisman Trophy, and was part of the golf tournament.
“It’s so important that people realize how important this is to our survival as a Hall of Famer,” Cromwell said. “This is a unique opportunity to be with so many sports legends, enjoy a great dinner and bid on so many priceless items.”
He added that the two-day event is structured player and celebrity friendly with three local golfers and one celebrity to maximize time on the course together and shorten the round.
“We all had a six-hour lap and nobody enjoys that.”
The two identical rounds of golf are designed to take advantage of everyone’s schedule.
“Friday afternoon works better for people who have a busy weekend and Saturday works better for those who can’t get off work during the week,” Cromwell added. “We want this to be a great experience for everyone, gamers and celebrities alike.”
Friday night’s auction offers players the opportunity to take home a variety of gifts, from autographed jerseys and helmets to local items donated by numerous Waco companies.
Cromwell was involved in moving the Texas Sports Hall of Fame to Waco and has been involved in the golf tournament ever since. He said he can’t wait for so many dedicated people to play for a year again this weekend
“It’s a great time for a great cause. I can’t wait to see everyone again.”
To register for Friday night’s dinner and auction, or to see if there are seats left in the golf tournament, visit the website at www.tshof.org or call 254-756-1633