HARRIS, Mich. -- Sweetgrass Golf Club kicks off preparations for the fourth Island Resort Championship this month, welcoming the LPGA Symetra Tour's return June 27-29.
Sponsorship slots are sold out for Pro-Am tournaments scheduled Wednesday and Thursday during championship week. The Delta County Chamber of Commerce commenced volunteer recruiting and area non-profits have dedicated manpower to sell tickets in return for fundraising dollars.
"This tournament has become the highlight of the golf season, drawing tourism dollars and national exposure to our course and region," says Tony Mancilla, event co-chair and attorney for the Hannahville band of the Potawatomi Nation, owners and operators of the resort and course. "Players, sponsors and locals look forward to it every year."
Nearly 5,000 spectators attended the 2013 Island Resort Championship, with tournament sponsorship opportunities filling months in advance of the event. Its success resulted in a three-year contract renewal between the Island Resort & Casino and the Tour last fall, continuing the tournament until 2016.
"We've set the bar high for other course hosts in suburban and rural regions," says Mancilla. "Small-town America can see professional athletes compete at an inexpensive cost, regional sponsors realize the benefit in exposing their brand, and players vie for attractive purses on LPGA-Tour courses. Everyone benefits."
Since the Island Resort & Casino first became a title sponsor and host in 2011, Symetra Tour purses have escalated to an all-time $2 million high, and the number and quality of host courses has improved dramatically, Mancilla notes.
"For the past three years, we've been a standout event," he says. "Now, we're proud to be among the top-five venues, because the Tour is simply that much better."
Mancilla and the Island Resort Championship committee will enhance the spectator experience of the tournament this June. Walking routes to key viewing areas, placement of weather shelters and on-course access by both young and older fans top the to-do list.
"Our town replicates the same visitor, player and sponsor experience as the LPGA Tour," says Mancilla. "Our shared commitment to excellence makes it a better tournament, every year."
Three-day grounds passes to the 54-hole stroke-play tournament are $10 and are now available at the Island Showroom on property; kids 17 and under enter free with a paying parent.
For more information: www.sweetgrassgolfclub.com, 877-ISL-GREEN
About the Championship
Welcoming the world's brightest new talent in women's professional golf, the Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass is a Symetra Tour - Road to the LPGA event held at Sweetgrass Golf Club in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The 54-hole stroke-play event will be held June 27-29, 2014. Located in Harris, Michigan, Sweetgrass Golf Club was designed by Michigander Paul Albanese and is situated at the Island Resort & Casino. Both course and resort are owned/operated by the Hannahville Indian Community of the Potawatomi Nation.
About the Symetra Tour
The Symetra Tour - Road to the LPGA, is the official Qualifying Tour for the LPGA and enters its 34th competitive season in 2014. With the continued support of its umbrella sponsor, Symetra, the Tour's mission is to prepare the world's best young women professional golfers for a successful career on the LPGA Tour. Top-10 money winners receive full, equal status for the following season on the LPGA Tour.
The 2014 schedule includes 20 tournaments with stops in 12 U.S. states and a total purse of $2 million. Symetra Tour events have contributed more than $5 million to charitable organizations throughout the nation since 1989.
For more information: www.SymetraTour.com.
Dan Shepherd, Buffalo Communications