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A different kind of Shore on the same weekend

Looking for an alternative way to spend your Saturday during the Dinah Shore week of festivities?

Maybe by then you will have grown tired of all the young, nubile, scantily clad bodies; or maybe watching all that professional golf will make you want to grab a set of clubs and dig into the sand, yourself. In either case, you might want to read on.

For 364 days of the year, Caroline Haines has a regular life with a regular job in a regular home. She drives a regular car and basically is a regular person, just like you and me. However, for that one other day of the year, she has run one of the most successful women's golf benefits for over 20 years.

The LinaShore Golf Classic started back in 1987 as a game of golf and a BBQ among friends. They had 35 golfers that first year. In those early years, the demographic was 40+, very closeted, professional women; making it more behooving for Haines not to advertise, so she didn't. It obviously didn't hurt. The second year they had 72 players. Then 144. It doubled every year without a lick of advertising.

After the 3rd year, Haines decided they needed a purpose, and chose the event's first beneficiary: "Caring for Babies with AIDS." Since then, they have supported various organizations, including the AIDS Services Foundation, Susan G. Komen, Project New Hope, HRC, and the American Heart Association.

Yes, it is held in Palm Springs. Yes, it is on THAT weekend. Don't get me wrong about that one day thing; undoubtably it takes Haines most (if not all) of the rest of the year to plan that one - very full - day.

The title of the tournament is obviously a play on names; Lina is short for Carolina and back then, instead of being the catch-all name for a weekend of lesbian debauchery - the REAL Dinah Shore was actually running the women's LPGA Championship at Mission Hills and it was named after her.

It's been said that Dinah never did like being associated with all the lesbians, and for a long time, Haines was worried about getting in trouble over the name she chose (yet another reason not to advertise). Fortunately, an associate happened to cross paths with the real Dinah one year and filled her in. She loved the idea so much, she even donated one of her books to auction off, but the bigger prize for Haines was the sigh of relief she experienced upon hearing the news.

She has also had some celebrities drop in to play, although she's not name-dropping (but I will - I remember meeting Emily Saliers from the Indigo Girls in 1993 when the LinaShore's after party shared the back lawn of The Desert Palms Inn with us regular, pre-cottage-industry-Dinah-weekend partygoers).

Of course when you run something for 20 years there are bound to be ups and downs. In fact, the weather was quite frigid in 1995 - so frigid the rain was mixed with hail - and they were stuck with the course fees.

"We had 225 women that year," Haines recalled. "We couldn't get our money back - so 25 of them returned to their hotels and 200 chose to play in the rain and the hail. We just kept bringing them towels, coffee, Kahlua, Bailey's - whatever it took to keep them happy."

Haines is well-aware that even an off-weekend in Palm Springs is not cheap, let alone one filled with every lesbian event you can imagine. Because of this, she has always kept her prices affordable. So affordable, she has even lost money over the years but kept going because it never seemed to lose its rewards.

After her 20th year, however, she finally decided to throw in the old golf towel and be done. She would soon find out that stepping away was not as easy as it sounded, as her stalwart reputation had preceded her well. Six months after giving up her tee time, she began getting calls from people who had bought LinaShore tickets as part of a package, through third-party agents even before she had decided to call it a day. The event had been around for so long people planned their attendance years in advance!

Rather than let these people down - she picked up the pin and charged forward, yet again.

Now in its 23rd year, the Linashore Classic averages about 100 players per year and has a mutually exclusive dinner dance held the same evening. Today their one and only beneficiary is the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation. Dr. Love and her "Army of Women" are dedicated to finding a cure for breast cancer.

The foundation's Web site says it "works to eradicate breast cancer and improve the quality of women's health through innovative research, education, and advocacy." Love comes for the tournament every year, speaking not only at the awards luncheon immediately following the golf classic, but also at the evening's dinner dance.

The tournament takes place at the Desert Princess Country Club on Saturday, April 3. It has an 8 a.m. shotgun start; and for $150 you get breakfast, 18 holes of golf in a scramble (best ball) format, lunch, a drink, a tournament gift, and prizes. There will be trophys for the winners in each of the three levels of competition, and prizes for closest to the pin, closest to the water, accuracy drive, the best dressed foursome, and a yellow ball competition.

There is no need to be concerned about your level of play; Haines assures that foursomes will be paired up as equally as possible. If a player has a loved one or friend who wants to attend the luncheon and meet Dr. Love, it is $20 for non-playing attendees.

The Saturday night dinner dance will take place at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa. The evening starts out with a cocktail reception and silent auction, followed by an appearance by Love, and then dinner and dancing to DJ Tyler Murray. All proceeds from the silent auction will benefit the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation. Advance tickets are $75; $100 at the door.

So if you are looking for an alternative to the limitless golf professionals at one end of town, or the debauchery at the other, you might want to give this Shore a try, and benefit breast cancer research while you are at it.

“We need to go beyond a cure. We need to stop people from ever getting breast cancer in the first place.”

Morgan M. Hurley is the Copy Editor for SDGLN. She can be reached at (877) 727-5446, x710 or at morgan@sdgln.com.