Professional golf tournaments must be more than just that these days.
Fans descend on the vast acres of manicured grass to see some of the world's best players, no doubt. But they also want to soak in an experience. That's part of the reason why you'll find PGA Tour stops often have more to do -- such as concerts at night, for example -- than just watch golf.
The KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, held again this year at The Golf Club at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, is no exception.
"We can't just market to golf fans or make this event about golf fans," championship director Ryan Ogle says. "It's about everyone. It's about families. It's about golfers. It's about anyone."
Harbor Shores is hosting the Senior PGA for the fourth time from May 22-27. This year's edition, in keeping with the theme of offering more to attendees, features something called the Makers Trail 19th Hole -- a window into the vibrant Berrien County craft beverage scene.
The Makers Trail is, essentially, an online guidebook put together recently by the Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council to highlight the area's breweries, wineries and distilleries. You can learn more at swmichigan.org/makers-trail.
Anyway, this initiative pairs nicely with the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship as it represents a weeklong influx of people around Benton Harbor. It can shine a spotlight on the "makers."
Harbor Shores has previously hosted the event in 2012, 2014 and 2016.
"We've been in business that whole period of time," Simon Rusk, head brewer of The Livery, which is within a stone's throw of the course, says. "I'd say it's grown every year for us in terms of the people that are coming to our pub as a result of the tournament."
Adding the Makers Trail 19th Hole to the tournament grounds, however, should provide people with an even greater sense of awareness.
Local "makers" participating include Domaine Berrien Cellars, Hickory Creek Winery, Journeyman Distillery, Lemon Creek Winery, The Livery, North Pier Brewery, Silver Harbor Brewing Company, Watermark Brewing Company and Round Barn Winery, Distillery & Brewery.
Each will offer something unique for those with tickets -- those range between $50 and $70, depending on the day -- to the pavilion. Round Barn, for example, plans to feature its DiVine Vodka, which is produced using grapes from the estate.
Many people aren't even aware Round Barn does more than wine and beer. Offering vodka at the tournament presents an opportunity to highlight one of the many spirits it produces.
"We've been distilling for as long as we could be in the state of Michigan," distiller John Bogucki says. "Some of our brandies are 10 years old. It's very good stuff. We just don't work in the volume that a lot of producers do."
Between the makers and those putting on the tournament, the goal is for Makers Trail 19th Hole to have staying power. And that doesn't mean just having it the next time Harbor Shores plays host in 2020.
Instead, they hope it helps drive tourism to the area more generally.
"This is only a very small part of the makers," Wally Maurer, president and winemaker at Domaine Berrien Cellars, says. "We're very, very proud to be part of this and part of the community identified as makers, whether it's beer, distilled spirits or wine. The thing that we all have in common is we touch customers. We're all responsible for how much fun somebody has when they come out and visit."
This article is written by Jake Brown from South Bend Tribune, Ind. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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