Gene Upshaw Memorial Golf Classic ends run at 10 Truckee area tournaments
After 10 years of tournaments and fundraising in the Truckee area, the Gene Upshaw Memorial Golf Classic will not be held this year.
The annual tournament had traditionally been contested in the days ahead of the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship Tournament, attracting dozens of professional and retired athletes to local courses for a round of golf benefiting the Gene Upshaw Memorial Fund.
“After 10 very successful years, Terri Upshaw, Sam McCullum and Pat Allen, the Executive Planning Committee for the Gene Upshaw Memorial Golf Classic, have decided not to continue the tournament in 2019,” wrote Gene Upshaw’s wife, Terri Upshaw, in a letter posted to the tournament’s website. “Everyone is extremely grateful to all of the sponsors, participants, celebrities, volunteers and staff for their role in the success of the event. It would not have been possible without all of you. Our communities and the entire team at Tahoe Forest Health System are forever grateful.”
During the tournament’s 10 years, more than $1.5 million was raised for the Gene Upshaw Memorial Fund, which supports the Tahoe Forest Health System, the Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center, and the Tahoe Institute for Rural Health Research.
“The golf tournament was always intended to be for 10 years. It’s all part of what was expected to happen,” said Tahoe Forest Health System Director of Marketing and Communications Paige Thomason. “We’re not sure if there will be another tournament in the future.”
Upshaw was a Pro Football Hall of Fame guard, who played for the Oakland Raiders from 1967-81.
“Gene was a good friend and mentor. We used to go at it at times, but I had the greatest of respect for him,” Hall of Fame running back Marcus Allen told the Sierra Sun during the 2017 tournament at Schaffer’s Mill Golf & Lake Club. “When I was a 22-year-old rookie, Gene was in his 16th year in the NFL, and he was almost like a big brother, kind of looking out for me. So it’s great to come up here and to continue to perpetuate his legacy.”
Off the field, Upshaw was a member of the bargaining committee for the NFL Player’s Association in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and also served as the association’s executive director.
While at his home in Lake Tahoe in August of 2008, Upshaw fell ill. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on Aug. 17, and passed away three days later. A year later, his wife Terri Upshaw began the Gene Upshaw Memorial Golf Classic
“Gene Upshaw meant a lot to a lot of people – head of the (NFL Players Association),” said former Olympic athlete and NFL wide receiver Willie Gault following his team’s win at the 2017 tournament. “Really helped us to fight for our rights as players.”
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.