The unprecedented move to open the Greenbrier Classic to the public comes on the heels of a budget crisis in West Virginia. Jim Justice called it a game of “political football”.
“The republican leadership just kept beating on me about the sponsorship money that the state puts into this phenomenal tourism event,” he said.
Justice is refusing $1.75 million from the state to help fund the PGA tour event. He said he was left with no other choice but to cancel the popular concert series. “Well, it was a big surprise to me. I mean on Sunday night, just to tell it like it is, on Sunday night, we were within minutes of pulling the trigger on two great concerts.”
That’s why he opened the golf tournament to everyone, hoping to encourage attendance despite the lack of entertainment.
We contacted Senate President Bill Cole for comment. His campaign released this statement:
“The only one throwing mud about the Greenbrier Classic is Jim Justice. Bill Cole has supported the event and believes it has brought great exposure to West Virginia. In years past, Bill Cole has paid to participate in the celebrity pro-am. Bill Cole has made no efforts to cut the more than $1.5 million the state provides the event in sponsorship from the budget negotiations still under way for the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget. Any money that would be appropriated from these negotiations would go towards the 2017 Greenbrier Classic and not the one scheduled for this year. Jim Justice’s decision to cancel the concerts for this year’s event was his decision alone.”
Regardless of the reasons for the cut, it’s not just fans missing out this year, but charities are too. Local non-profits have sold badges in years past and kept part of the proceeds. The blame, being shifted on the republican-led legislature. When asked what will happen to those charities Justice said, “Well, we’re all losing. We’re all losing. And why are we losing? I mean really, when it all boils down to it, does anybody not think that if I had continued to take the money, what would it be? It would be the same old, same old. Billionaire’s taking the money.”
Aside from politics, the tournament will go on, and could possibly be the largest Greenbrier Classic in the tournament’s six year history.