In these tough economic times for golf clubs across the country, it's important to explore ideas that might have one time been considered outside the box.
One club in Wyoming, R.I. – The Preserve – is doing just that, thanks largely to the brainstorming of its new Director of Operations, Troy Pare.
Pare, a successful PGA Professional who played in the 2010 PGA Championship by virtue of his fifth-place finish in the PGA Professional National Championship, helped develop the idea for a “first of its kind,” tournament. It’s called The Preserve Open presented by Benrus – The Greatest Day in Golf.
Open to men, women, juniors, professionals and amateurs, no matter the handicap, The Preserve Open is an 18-hole, par-3 event scheduled for Thursday, June 18, 2015, offering – get this – over $20 million in cash and prizes.
[wide_search_instructor]The Preserve is a 9-hole, par-34 course, that can also be played as an 18-hole par-3 course (which it will play for The Preserve Open), with hole-in-one prizes of $1 million on each.
"It's a ground-breaking golf tournament -- a term that's hard to use in today's game," Pare said. "We have created an 'Open' golf tournament that actually allows every golfer to compete on the same course with absolutely no handicap restrictions.”
Formerly the head professional at Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford, R.I., Pare helped organize the world-renowned Northeast Amateur, which has crowned champions such as Ben Crenshaw, Scott Hoch, John Cook, Hal Sutton, David Duval, Jonathan Byrd, Luke Donald and Dustin Johnson. It also hosted the 1931 PGA Championship won by Tom Creavy and will host the 2016 Junior PGA Championship.
Pare wanted to do something unique to kick off his first season at The Preserve, a site that also has fly-fishing, bird-hunting, zip-lining, tennis and more.
"Clubs nowadays need to trust their PGA Professionals and what they can accomplish," Pare said. "We bring great value and insight in how to be successful."
The idea for The Preserve Open started small. Bruce Vittner, a local golf writer and long-time member of the Golf Writers Association of America, suggested a Pro-Am event to bring awareness to the facility.
Pare and his team wanted to have the Rhode Island Golf Association (RIGA) involved, as well as including the PGA presence, something he was able to accomplish by reaching out to contacts and friends he’s established through the years at the New England PGA Section.
“Our event quickly went from a simple pro-am to a $20 million cash and prize event in about five weeks,” said Pare, who has been a six-year member of the NEPGA Board of Governors and a seven-year member of the tournament committee.
The Preserve Open is expected to offer the richest purse in New England outside of region's PGA Tour events -- The Travelers Championship and the Deutsche Bank Championship -- with over $100,000 guaranteed.
“It will also be televised on the New England Sports Network (NESN),” he said. “Amateurs have a chance to make money without losing their amateur status, too. In the qualifiers (which we have 5 of them), amateurs who make a hole-in-one on any hole will win $10,000. In the finals, the amateurs who get a hole-in-one on any hole will win $1 million."
What has also made this event appealing to nearby PGA Sections, such as the Met Section, is the timing. "The Greatest Day in Golf" will be played just 10 days before the start of the 2015 PGA Professional National Championship at The Cricket Club in Philadelphia.
"It makes sense for them to play and get ready for the PNC,” Pare said. “And they don't have to take much time out of their schedule to play. So we will attract many, many of those players."
For more information on "The Greatest Day in Golf -- The Preserve Open" visit www.thepreserveopen.com.