A tradition of fellowship for a better Pinellas
Originally, the Women's Golf Open was an event that evolved from an idea by the late, Babe Zaharias. The Babe owned a golf course in Tampa and was a dynamic and motivating force in the young LPGA that had been formed in the early 1950's.
In 1953, Mrs. Zaharias approached the Chamber of Commerce with an idea of holding a Professional Golf Women's Open. Ed Turville was the Chairman of the Chamber Sports Committee and he prevailed upon the City of St. Petersburg to guarantee for the purse.
The first tournament consisted of 18 professionals and 200 amateurs. Among these were Babe Zaharias, Louise Suggs, Patty Beng, Beverly Hensen and others. The tournament was won by Beverly Hensen who defeated the Babe on the third hole of the playoff.
The St. Petersburg Men's Open was being held at the same time but independent of the ladies tournament and this arrangement went on for many years. The City Manager's Golf Committee which was formed by City Manager, Ross Windom had the duty to run both tournaments.
Ross Windom later resigned and was succeeded by Lynn Andrews. Mr. Andrews did not believe that running a golf tournament was a function of the city government. In 1963, Lynn Andrews approached William R. Watts and told him that after the 1963 tournament that the City would no longer sponsor the event. He asked if Billy would try to organize a group to continue the tournament. Billy Watts, George B. "Mac" Curry, Billy Belcher and L. W. Baynard Sr. with a group of friends formed a Florida Corporation on March 4, 1964. The corporation was called St. Petersburg Women's Open Golf Championship, Inc.
The first tournament was held on April 1, 1964 at Sunset Golf and Country Club. It was called the St. Petersburg Women's Open Golf Championship and the total purse was $10,000. In 1965, the President, Mac Curry, thought the group of men that operate the tournament should have a name. Charles W. Mackey thought of the name Polywog. Poly being a Greek pre-fix meaning "many" and wog is derived from the initials of "women open golf", thus "Polywog".
On January 2, 1968 the name of the corporation was changed to Orange Blossom Open, Inc. so the tournament's name was also changed to the Orange Blossom Open. In 1980 the name was changed to the S&H Golf Classic, Inc., and in 1990 the Polywogs entered into a new era of sponsorship - The Orange Blossom Classic Pro Am. This event, featured local pros teamed up with amateur golf-sponsors.
The premier event today is a two-man scramble called "The Polywog Invitational Charity Golf Classic" to better reflect our charity objective. This event has raised over $2,000,000 for local charities. We appreciate former sponsors the Richard and Sharon Sanchez Family Foundation and now The Thoreson Foundation as title sponsor.