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Female golfer to headline Reno-Tahoe Open
by Harry Spencer - Tribune Columnist
Jul 25, 2008 | 839 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Photo courtesy of the Nevada Historical Society- At center, Harold's Club owner Harold "Pappy" Smith Sr. watches one of his roulette wheels in the 1950's. Photo by Jimmy Nickell.
Photo courtesy of the Nevada Historical Society- At center, Harold's Club owner Harold "Pappy" Smith Sr. watches one of his roulette wheels in the 1950's. Photo by Jimmy Nickell.
This year’s version of the Reno Tahoe Open, which has as its title sponsor Legends at Sparks Marina, will be featuring a female golfer, Michelle Wie, as its biggest name celebrity.

The 18 year-old Wie, who has been a golf media darling since she was much younger, was given a pass into the all-male tourney, which is in its 10th year at the Montreux Golf Course.

It is felt that Wie will create quite a “buzz” and it is predicted that she will have the largest gallery following. How this will sit with all the other — all male — golfers in the tournament has yet to be seen. One local golfer, Todd Fischer, whose home base is Montreux, was deleted from the playing field, supposedly to allow Wie to compete.

Star power is one item that the RTO has always lacked since it attracts the second tier of professional male golfers on tour.

To date, Wie has never made the cut in other PGA men’s tourneys in which she has played but some give her a shot at the RTO. If that happens it will generate some national sports coverage for the local event, which currently only appears on the Golf Channel.

In addition to the surprise booking of Wie, some local golf purists are questioning the manner in which this year’s RTO is being promoted. In most of the ads, “Party Time” is highlighted with salsa and Mexican beverages. Purists say that if the play at the RTO is not good enough to attract spectators on its own, it is doubtful if some mariachi music and dancing girls will do very much to increase the attendance.

G.O.D. Club

Longtime radio DJ and television personality Jack Joseph was the featured speaker at the July meeting of the Good Old Days Club. To set the stage for his presentation, Joseph brought in a state-of-the-art stereo sound system and an engineer to cue up the records of the former superstars he used to interview on his late night radio show in Reno during the ’60s.

During those days, Jack’s venue was the Waldorf Club, an upscale eatery and bar on the east side of Virginia Street between First and Second streets. Jack would take to the air at 11 p.m. and stay to at least 5 a.m. Many of the top entertainers in the showrooms and lounges that peppered Reno and Sparks in those days would drop in after their nightly gigs and be interviewed on-air by Jack.

In those days the big showrooms were located in the Mapes, Harrah’s, the Riverside and the Sparks Nugget. Stars like Harry James, Dinah Shore, Liberace, Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, Carmen Cavallero, Petula Clark, Sammy Davis, Jr., the Louis Prima aggregation, George Shearing and dozens of others would crowd into the Waldorf to listen to the music and go on-air. Joseph credited Manny Glick of the Sparks Nugget with bringing most of the entertainers from that property over to see him.

During his presentation Joseph acknowledged the presence of Jack Young, owner of the Waldorf, and Art Long, former Variety correspondent, who were in the audience at the G.O.D. Club.

Once the radio show had run its course, Joseph went to TV to host and produce the first late-night movies on KOLO-TV. He put in another long stint when he took to the stage in the Riverside Hotel showroom to spin records for dancing, which ran an astounding five years.

Currently, Joseph still does radio gigs and TV commercials and is the publisher of the largest coupon book in the area.

Wolf Pack roundballers in NBA Summer League

The recently completed NBA Summer League play in Las Vegas gave lots of exposure to some former University of Nevada basketball stars. Ramon Sessions led the pack with the highest scoring average per game but Nick Fazekas, Marcellus Kemp and Javale McGee also gave good accounts of themselves. The fact that Nevada ballplayers are looking good in the NBA gives added credibility to the lofty status that the Nevada basketball program has reached under the guidance of current coach Mark Fox and his predecessor, Trent Johnson.

Harolds Club Pioneers

This past Tuesday members of the “Harolds Club Pioneers” (former employees of the famous Reno landmark, now gone) gathered at the Riverwalk on the south side of the Truckee River, adjacent to the Riverside Hotel building, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the naming of the walk in honor of Raymond I. “Pappy” Smith, the founder of Harolds Club. To mark the occasion, the bust of “Pappy” was the gathering spot where the former employees could take to the mic and relate their favorite stories about working in the casino that was once the largest and best known in the entire world. “Pappy,” his two sons, Raymond A. and Harold, Sr., are all now long gone as is the famous grandson, Harold, Jr., but what they did for the little town by the Truckee will never disappear from memory.

Not only was Harolds the single entity that promoted the city of Reno worldwide, but it was also the source of much of the philanthropy that existed in the Biggest Little City. Everyone seeking donations for charitable causes had Harolds at the top of their lists and in practically every case Harolds responded generously. Their contributions to St. Mary’s hospital literally kept the doors to that establishment open during the early years. Once corporate took over the majority of gaming institutions in the Silver State, the sense of community interaction all but disappeared from the scene.

Celebrity Corner

When it comes to movie “remakes” they seldom, if ever, are successful. I was reminded of this recently while watching Turner Classic Movie channel airing a remake of the iconic “It Happened One Night,” which shot Clark Gable to super-stardom. In the original, Gable was a newsman, hot on the story of a wealthy heiress on the “lam” from her wealthy father. The rich girl was portrayed by Claudette Colbert, who was probably considerably older than Gable at that time but the movie worked, largely because of the chemistry between the two stars. In the remake, the producer chose to do some offbeat casting in selecting Jack Lemmon for the Gable role and, of all people, June Allyson for the Colbert part. While Lemmon was one of the all-time best at light comedy and Allyson at her best singing and dancing in musicals, neither could come close to the original performances. Too bad.

Harry Spencer is a freelance writer in Reno. His column about the past and present of northern Nevada appears weekly in the Tribune.
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Female golfer to headline Reno-Tahoe Open by Harry Spencer - Tribune Columnist

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