Dr. Condoleezza Rice's golf profile keeps growing. The former U.S. Secretary of State, who played in the pro-am at the Northern Trust Open earlier this year, has been named honorary chairperson at the Regions Tradition. The Champions Tour major will be played May 5-8 at Alabama's Shoal Creek, where Rice, a Birmingham native, is a member.
A 20-handicap golfer, Rice attended her first Masters in 2009 and described the experience for The Daily Beast. "Upon arrival, Augusta took my breath away with its physical beauty," Rice wrote. "It exceeds your expectations. The people are very kind. Clearly, the faces at Augusta National are changing as America is changing. But there is a timelessness to it that is very nice. Everything runs on time at Augusta but nothing is hurried."
Rice, the first African-American woman Secretary of State, is expected to hit the ceremonial opening shot at the Regions Tradition, which relocated from Oregon and is now the first of the five major championships on the Champions Tour calendar. It formerly had been contested in August.
The tournament will be the first significant professional event at Shoal Creek since the 1990 PGA Championship, which was clouded by controversy over the club's restrictive membership practices. Shoal Creek most recently hosted the 2008 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship.
"It's a privilege to serve as the honorary chairperson for the Regions Tradition," Rice said. "This major championship is creating enormous interest in the community, and stands to make a significant charitable and economic impact in Birmingham and the state of Alabama."
-- Bill Fields