The LPGA Symetra Tour will return to the Island Resort & Casino and Sweetgrass Golf Club through 2016
The golf scene in Michigan got some good news when it was announced the LPGA Symetra Tour will return to the Upper Peninsula through 2016.
The Sweetgrass Golf Club in Harris has hosted the Island Resort Championship for the past three years. Regional support will continue to keep the event alive. Sellouts in corporate hospitality and pro-am sponsorships and an average of 4,500 spectators annually show how invested the community was in the tournament. More than 300 volunteers serve as caddies, scoreboard attendants and fill other necessary roles to operate the championship each year, and nearly 100 open their homes to host golfers during tournament week.
The Hannahville Indian Community - which owns the course and Island Resort & Casino - has increased the total purse by $10,000, to $125,000 annually.
“The event puts a spotlight on the beauty and uniqueness of the course which many players regard as the best stop on the circuit,” said Tribal Council Chair Ken Mesigaud in a statement. “Having a professional golf tournament in the region brings excitement to the community and the response from volunteers and sponsors has been overwhelming.”
Michigan is still without a PGA TOUR event - a sad reflection of the state’s economy - but coupled with the Senior PGA Championship’s return to Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor in 2014, at least there are other options next year for local golf fans. The 2014 Island Resort Championship, a 54-hole stroke play event with a field of 144 professional women golfers, will be held June 27-29.
Sweetgrass, regularly ranked one of the nation’s top casino courses and one of Michigan’s best public courses by Golfweek, has continued to see growth in both golf rounds and overnight package sales since hosting the tournament in 2010. Pictured above is its signature island green at No. 15. It is the site of my all-time favorite hole-in-one story (read about it here).
“The course is gorgeous and a good challenge for us,” said Symetra Tour player Stefanie Kenoyer, a former Big Break-Mexico contestant. “All the girls look forward to playing this tournament.”
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