For more than 65 years, Akron — and the Firestone Country Club — have hosted some of the biggest names in golf, not only in a showcase of the sport but in a showcase of this Northeast Ohio community. One chapter in that proud legacy closed last year. This year, a new one begins.
The rich tradition of Firestone Country Club was built by legends like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, and it will continue through a major championship tournament whose winner’s list includes many of those same iconic names.
Like the World Golf Championships, the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship is a celebration of world-class golf that can make a significant, positive impact in this community.
This event brings legends of the game back to a course they love to play in front of fans who truly appreciate the game and its greats. And we believe it will give those fans a close-up experience like they’ve never had before.
A field that can already boast names like Fred Couples, Vijay Singh and Bernhard Langer will potentially add Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, and Retief Goosen in the next few years. They can’t wait to come back to Akron because they know how special this place is — and so does Bridgestone.
Like the sport of golf, Northeast Ohio has played a very important role in our company’s history, and it will continue to be a significant part of our future. Our roots here go back more than a century to the founding of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in 1900, and today Bridgestone employs more than 1,300 people across the region.
We have made major local investments in Bridgestone research, innovation, and data facilities in recent years. This year we also announced plans for a new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility that will keep our production of Firestone Firehawk race tires for the NTT IndyCar Series here in Akron.
Bridgestone believes in this community and its future, which is why we were so motivated to do what we could to ensure professional golf would continue at Firestone Country Club. These events have changed lives and donated millions of dollars to local organizations, including Akron Children’s Hospital and U-H Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. And that focus on charitable giving is still a primary objective moving forward with the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship.
But the tournament team and sponsors can’t do it alone. The support of Akron and its surrounding communities made the Bridgestone Invitational a success each year, and we’re hopeful that you — the local fans, volunteers and businesses in Northeast Ohio — will embrace the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship in a similar way.
Bridgestone is proud to be part of the legacy that professional golf has built in this community, and I hope you are, too. It may look a little different this year, but its heart remains the same.
I hope to see you this week at Firestone Country Club, where together we can celebrate the start of a new chapter in a storied tradition that will continue to benefit this region for many years to come.
Knapp is chief executive and president of Bridgestone Americas.