Ladies on the Green: Linashore Golf Classic

Mar 14, 2012 by

Ladies on the Green: Linashore Golf Classic

by Heather Cassell

Carolina “Lina” Haines was young and having fun when she discovered the Dinah Shore Ladies Golf Tournament in Palm Springs. She was in her late 20s, it was 1985, and like many other sporty gals who like girls and golf hitting the course became one of her social passions and Dinah Shore Weekend became her annual destination.

“I love golf,” says Carolina, 55, who gathered 35 of her closest friends for golf and a barbeque during Dinah Shore Weekend in Palm Springs 25 years ago. “I just love to play golf and all of the girls that I hung out with liked to play golf too.”

The women had so much fun they followed up the golfing party the next year. More than double the golfers showed up on the course than the year before in 1988 and the event doubled in size following year creating the annual Linashore Golf Classic, that grew from golf and barbeque to a charity round of golf with a luncheon and dancing afterwards benefiting various women’s organizations.

The charity tournament’s name is a play on mid-20thcentury entertainment icon Dinah Shore and Carolina’s nickname, Lina.

“It was fun. Everyone looked forward to it because there was such a predominance [of] gay women on the golf tour,” says Carolina. “I dated a couple of them from time to time.”

She wouldn’t name names of the professional women golfers she’s dated. She prefers to maintain the Linashore Golf Classic privacy policy that marks the era the charity event started. Many professional women kept the closet door tightly shut in fear of losing their careers as well as lifestyles that they grew accustom.

The sponsors, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, who took over the Dinah Shore Golf Championship after Shore’s death in 1994. The organization promptly dropped her name, but kept playing in spite of the Sapphic attention and draw.

The weekend inspired what is known as the “lesbian spring break,” the largest gathering of lesbians in the world.

If the Ladies Professional Golf Association sponsors suddenly dropped Palm Springs from the tour she would discontinue hosting the Linashore Golf Tournament, she says.

It will be interesting to see if the Dinah Shore Weekend, promoted by Los Angele’s GirlBar promoters Robin Gans and Sandy Sachs, who followed the Dinah in Color party to Las Vegas this year will be successful.

This left the California desert oasis to Mariah Hanson, Club Skirt’s party promoter and former partner of the Dinah Shore Weekend with the Gans and Sachs, to The Dinah promoter.

Carolina’s experience to bring the party to Las Vegas, another stop on the LPGA tour, proved to be a bust. Las Vegas simply doesn’t have the same draw as Palm Springs, Carolina says.

“People love to come out to Palm Springs,” says Carolina, who believes there isn’t a market to repeat the Dinah Shore experience beyond Palm Springs. “There’s just an attraction for the Dinah Shore period.”

Unlike the promoters who built up Dinah Shore Weekend into the largest queer women’s party zone in history, the Linashore Golf Classic has never been and won’t ever be a profit making business for her, Carolina says.

Even though the former real estate agent who now owns an escrow company in Laguna Beach, Calif. started her career with the one of the originators of the Dinah Shore Weekend, Kathy Miller, who sometimes co-hosts the golf tournament’s luncheon and dinner dance party.

The Linashore Golf Classic remains an affordable all volunteer venture, that attracts professional women, says Carolina, especially since she never expected to make a profit from the event.

“This is something that I do for fun. I love seeing people have a good time and I love raising money for a cause.”

The Linashore Golf Classic once attracted up to more than 200 lady golfers between the ages of 45 to 80 years old on the course, but now averages an estimated 200 women for the golf and parties that simply spread by word of mouth over the years. Sometimes attendance reaches up to 500 women at the dinner party, says Carolina.

“It’s a lovely comfortable fun evening,” adds Carolina, proud that the event has also served as the inspiration for other women’s social and charity golf tournaments.

The weekend event has raised more than $400,000 for babies with AIDS/HIV, LGBT rights, low-income housing, and women’s health since its inception. Every two years Carolina selects a new beneficiary organization.

This year’s cause organization is the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund, that raises awareness and money to educate people about Alzheimers, funds research to find a cure, and in the meantime provides support for families and patients.

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