GRAND RAPIDS -- The 79th edition of the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship is coming back to West Michigan.
Returning for the fourth time at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor on Memorial Day weekend, the Senior PGA Championship will feature some of the best senior golfers in the game.
"We're expecting our (2014) past champion here at Harbor Shores, Colin Montgomery, 2016 winner Rocco Mediate, our defending champion from 2017 is Bernhard Langer so we expect all three of them back," Senior PGA Championship Director Ryan Ogle said. "Big names like John Daly is a fan favorite, Tom Lehman, Tom Kite, we've got some new faces eligible like Steve Stricker, Vijay Singh, Miguel Angel Jimenez."
With some big names returning, the turnout is expected to be high.
"What's so surprising to me is every year we come back, we ask for 1,700 volunteers to execute our championship in a smaller market and we have yet to find a challenge in doing that," Ogle said.
The 2017 championship was played at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia.
Ogle said they've already raised nearly $1 million for local Benton Harbor Youth and bringing the younger generations to the event is important.
"The championship's always been family friendly," Ogle said. "Every ticketed adult can bring up to four juniors 17 and under for free. We've always been open to families."
The 18-hole, Jack Nicklaus designed course, is par-71 and runs along 550 acres along the Paw Paw River and Lake Michigan shoreline.
New to the tournament this year will be The Makers Trail along holes 16 and 17.
"It's a tented structure with TVs, seats and a private bar," Ogle said. "At that private bar we are serving beer, wine and spirits. We have breweries from the region, wineries from the region and a couple distilleries. We're really going to be showcasing the great things you can do here in West Michigan."
It's an upgraded ticket, which will cost $25 to $45 more but purchasers will also receive a $20 voucher for The Maker's Trail to try the local spirits.
The tournament will also have a family fun zone along holes seven through nine.
Ogle said there will be opportunities for kids, 17 and younger to hit golf balls with a PGA professional, bounce houses and local entertainment.
On Saturday, which is being called Kids Day, will have a schedule of events for kids to do, such as a Smoothie Race, where kids will be able to interact with small appliances from KitchenAid and make their own smoothies.
Finally, a concert is expected on Saturday evening, from 5:30-8 p.m. The concert will feature a local band out of Grand Rapids playing original content and a band from southwest Michigan as the headliner, playing original and cover songs.
"What we're really trying to accomplish is the growth of this community and to bring people back," Ogle said. "Come experience our championship for a week. We hope that draws them there but they have such a great time and such a great welcome that they come back."
More information on the event can be found at www.pga.com/events/seniorpgachampionship.
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