By Bob Denney, The PGA of America
BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- The 73rd Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid was kicked off Tuesday afternoon by a host of community leaders and PGA officials including Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder; Dave Whitwam, general chairman of the 73rd PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid; Jeff M. Fettig, chairman and CEO, Whirlpool Corporation; U.S. Congressman Fred Upton; Allen Wronowski, president of The PGA of America; Joe Steranka, CEO, The PGA of America; and World Golf Hall of Fame member Jack Nicklaus, the designer of Harbor Shores. Together, they celebrated the Senior PGA Championship as the first major to visit Southwest Michigan and the story of economic development of Harbor Shores.
“We at The PGA of America feel that the values of Whirlpool as a corporation, and KitchenAid as a brand, are so in step with the values and the pride, and the brand of The PGA of America,” said Steranka. “When they explained the vision of Harbor Shores and the work that was being done, I found that there was no better story about jobs, and the charitable and the environmental impact.”
Golf is a big job provider in the State of Michigan, where more than 50,000 people make golf their career. Steranka also referred to “the 800 small businesses in Michigan driven by the 800-plus members of the Michigan PGA Section, working in an industry with a total economic impact of $4.2 billion in this state.”
Harbor Shores, a 6,822-yard, par-71 Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, is part of the 530-acre Harbor Shores development that spans part of Benton Harbor, St. Joseph and Benton Charter Township. Led by the Whirlpool Corporation, Whirlpool Foundation and the KitchenAid brand, the Harbor Shores project is a leading force in the revitalization of the Benton Harbor and St. Joseph communities.
“This event, in terms of showing off our state and the accomplishments here in Benton Harbor, are fabulous,” said Synder. “So, I really want to thank the community. When you combine the efforts of Whirlpool, the Consortium for Community Development and the Cornerstone Alliance, everyone coming together, it shows the progress that can be made. If you look at what this was before and what it is now, it's just fabulous. Pure Michigan.”
Nicklaus’ journey toward building Harbors Shores, he said, also proved to be a personal discovery about the impact of golf in affecting change within a community. Before Nicklaus went on to a news conference and conducted a junior clinic, he was the focal point of one more honor.
Mayor James Hightower of Benton Harbor, Mayor Bob Judd of St. Joseph, Supervisor of Benton Charter Township Nora Jefferson and Berrien County Commissioner Dave Pagel gathered at the podium.
Nicklaus was presented with a custom-designed glass and steel sculpture as tribute for what he has done for the Harbor Shores development project. The sculpture, designed by local artists Jerry Catania and Josh Andres, followed the designs that appear on all 18 tee markers at Harbor Shores. This sculpture featured a bar carrying four keys representing the area communities.
The sculpture carried the inscription: “With special thanks to Jack Nicklaus, the master designer. You are forever welcome in our communities: Benton Harbor, St. Joseph, Benton Charter Township and Berrien County, Michigan.”
“It’s always fun to see the golf course finished, but more than that, it’s fun to see a community revitalized,” said Nicklaus. “We were really privileged to be a part of that. We’re a small part; we are just a golf course with some green grass. But what everybody else did and what we were allowed to be a part of was really very, very, very rewarding and a lot of fun for us.”