Men’s touring golf returns to Michigan with big hoopla and big moolah.
The PGA Tour’s Champions tournament set for Sept. 14-16 at Grand Blanc’s Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club will feature a kickoff concert by country duo Big & Rich, and offer a $2 million purse, putting it in the middle to upper tier for prize money on the circuit.
The Ally Challenge on Monday also announced a presenting sponsor, McLaren Health Care, which is headquartered in Grand Blanc, just southeast of Flint.
The three-round tournament starts Friday, Sept. 14, and the opening round will be followed by the concert by Big & Rich — or Big Kenny and John Rich, known for such songs as “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy).” The tournament concludes Sunday, Sept. 16. Practice and pro-am rounds are set for Sept. 10-13.
“Community and corporate support for the Ally Challenge presented by McLaren has been tremendous since we announced the return of professional golf to Warwick Hills in August,” tournament director Chris Coffman said. “Warwick Hills is definitely going to be the place to be next September.”
This tournament — on the PGA Tour’s 50-and-older circuit, played by such stars as John Daly, Fred Couples, Colin Montgomerie and Vijay Singh — is the first annual professional tour event to come to Michigan since the PGA Tour’s Buick Open was last held in 2009, also at Warwick Hills.
The PGA Tour could return to Michigan as early as 2019, with its sights set on Detroit Golf Club, as Dan Gilbert’s Quicken Loans and Tour officials continue to negotiate his sponsorship commitment moving forward. Quicken Loans most recently has sponsored Tiger Woods’ July tournament in suburban Washington D.C., but there’s not a signed deal for 2018 as the two sides decide how best to continue the relationship. Quicken has told The News its priority is to bring a PGA Tour tournament to the city of Detroit for the first time.
Majors continue to be held occasionally in Michigan, including the Senior PGA Championship, which will return to Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor in 2018, 2020, 2022 and 2024. The LPGA Tour has annual tournaments in Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor.
The Champions tournament at Warwick Hills, on a three-year contract, will be one of the last regular-season event before the Tour’s Charles Schwab Cup playoffs, which could guarantee a big-name field. It figures to feature many of the same men who played for years in the Buick Open. The 2018 Champions schedule features 27 tournaments, and runs from January through November.
Tickets for the Ally Challenge also went on sale to the public Monday, and can be purchased at theallychallenge.com. There are weekly clubhouse tickets $230) and grounds tickets ($95), as well as daily tickets ($55 for Friday, $35 for Saturday and Sunday).