The co-founder and co-chairman of the McDonald’s LPGA Championship has been driving the far corners of the course to say goodbye to all his volunteers. McDonald’s is ending its 16-year run as title sponsor of a major championship this weekend, its 29-year run as an LPGA tournament sponsor. The LPGA takes over ownership next year seeking new sponsors and a new venue.
That has made Lotman more visible this week than he has ever been on the course.
“I don’t usually drive around like this,” Lotman said. “But I want to thank the volunteers. I’ve been getting lots of hugs. We have 1,600, 1,700 volunteers. They’re a great team, and they make it all work here big time.”
Lotman said the championship gave $110,000 to its charities in its first year in 1981 and $3.2 million to charities in its best year. Lotman said expenses are offsetting revenues so much this farewell championship will be lucky to match that first year’s charity contribution. He said the loss of supporting bank sponsorships have hurt.
“After we take our money and pay all our bills, hopefully there will be some left,” Lotman said. “I’ll know later.”
McDonald’s will turn its primary charity golf event into a one-day affair for McDonald’s suppliers next year at Medinah in Chicago where the expenses of running a tournament won’t be so onerous.
“It’s a shame it’s time to turn off the switch, but it doesn’t work anymore when you don’t have any money left to give away to charity,” Lotman said.