2013 NCAA ALL-STAR GOLF TEAM ASIA TOUR

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The year was 1983, Lawrence A. Wheat was contacted by UCLA Head Women's Golf Coach Jackie Steinmann. Larry had been actively involved in the Los Angeles Open Golf Tournament (now the Northern Trust) at Riviera C.C., and was Chairman of the 50th Anniversary Tournament. It was through the L.A. Open that Larry had met Jackie when she assumed the Coaching Job at UCLA in 1977.

One of the requirements of coaching at the collegiate level is Fund-Raising. UCLA was probably, the most recognized university in
Asia at the time. Having negotiated sponsorship for the LAO with Nissan and Bridgestone, creating with C.Thomas Hebert, the Riviera C.C. International Membership in addition to heading a sports promotion/travel company which arranged for PGA Tour players to participate in Japan as well as arrange the logistics, Jackie came to Larry with the idea of: Taking the UCLA Women's Golf Team to Japan to play in some event and raise money for her program.

The first Tour consisted of 5 UCLA Women's Golf Team members, Coach Jackie Steinmann and Larry Wheat. Bungo Ishizaki, a close friend and business associate of Larry's stepped in to assist in arranging a few events for the Team to participate, including the Fullbright Scholarship Golf Tournament in
Tokyo.

The Tour was considered an artistic success. The Team members had been treated to a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Japanese enjoyed the opportunity, however, the downside was; after losing a sponsor or two, there wasn't enough money to pay all the bills. The urgent one was the hotel bill so we could "get out of town".

Faced with the delima of a shortage of funds, Larry, Jackie and Bungo began to brainstorm. The result of this "High-Level" conference was to arrange a "Fund-Raiser" to pay the balance of the expenses for the "Fund Raiser". The project was an Auction. The items to be auctioned were the Team UCLA Golf Bags and the Coach's golf clubs. The location for this auction was a Pizza Parlor in the Roppungi area of
Tokyo and the invited guests were UCLA Alumnai in Japan. The event proved to be a success, at least to the extend that there was enough money to pay the hotel bill and buy some tape so the girls could package their golf clubs for the flight home, as they no longer had any golf bags.

Once back home in
Los Angeles, the chaos of having to scrounge to pay our bills being behind us, the memories were all good. With only good thoughts, we agreed to try it again the following year. While not a project that would fund the program, we at least raised enough in sponsor fees to pay the bills and do it still another time. And yes we did.

What should have been the end of the project, occurred in 1985-6 when the NCAA passed rulings which prohibited NCAA teams from traveling abroad (as a team) more than once in any four year period. The purpose of the ruling was to prevent unfair advantages to NCAA programs who would have additonal time for practice and coaching which other programs were prevented from having without foreign trave. The events which percipitatetd this were Three Basketball Tournaments, one in Europe one in Panama and one in Japan. It was the same programs invited each year, therefore the blanket NCAA rule.

Rather than the end of the Tour, it bacame the beginning of a new format. Cathy Torchiana (formerly Bright) the Hal of Fame
USC Women's Golf Coach, approached Wheat and suggested rather than abandoning a very special project, that it simply take a different approach and become a Tour to for the PAC-WEST Conference. You see, at the time Women's Golf was not supported by all of the members of the PAC-10 Conference. What was in place was a Conference of Five Universiites Women's Golf programs to include: USC, UCLA, Stanford, Arizona State and Arizona.

 

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