The Trusted Choice Big I Junior Classic is returning to the state where it was first staged in 1969. The planning of this year's— July 31 to August 4 at the Kampen Course of the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. — is managed by Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America Director of Tournament Operations Rayma Frankenfield.
Frankenfield oversees the efforts of more than 2,000 independent insurance agents from across the country who organized and administered the qualifying tournaments for more than 8,000 junior golfers. Of these, 162 winners play in the classic.
In February, she began working on the tournament full-time, collaborating with the host committee on various matters from raising roughly $100,000 to cover tournament expenses, to finding housing for the players. Add in responsibilities like supervising hundreds of tournament volunteers, planning meals and entertainment for the week-long event, and managing public relations, and it's easy to see why it takes up all her time for six months.
On the night of the tournament's second day, when the field is cut from 162 to 90 and new pairings are announced, Frankenfield will throw a pairings party that will include rock-climbing walls and Indy 500 simulated race cars. “It gives the kids who are cut a chance to have a little bit of fun, and it takes the pressure off the kids who are still in play,” she says.
Finding the Right Site
Site selection, Frankenfield says, was a case of Indiana's state IIABA chapter “aggressively approaching us and saying they were interested in hosting.” The key to a successful bid, she notes, is having an association membership that is willing to support the tournament, and finding a championship-caliber course that is willing to host. The tournament is usually held in the South and Midwest. Its summer date on the junior golf calendar is during the busiest time of the golf season for courses in the North.
In the past Frankenfield and the IIABA national committee booked sites 18 months in advance, but this year they decided to aggressively plan as far out into the future as possible. “My national committee busted its hump, made calls from state to state, and we got a flood of interest,” Frankenfield says. The result? “We're going to Idaho in 2007. You have to know that's not an easy sell to get a golf course up there to give up a week during its peak season.” And the tournament is now booked through 2010.