Grand Blanc — It took almost 10 years to get professional golf back to Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club.
As it turns out, it was worth the wait. It was announced Thursday the inaugural Ally Challenge on the PGA Tour Champions that was played last September drew more than 60,000 fans and raised more than $800,000 for local charities.
“Talking about a first-year event moving into the second year, I guarantee you every other event on the PGA Tour Champions and on the PGA Tour watched what happened here because it went over so well,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said. “I think you see that music, culture and entertainment are a big part of our events and given the richness of all three in this area (the success) wasn’t a surprise to me, not only that it happened, but that it happened so wonderfully.”
Monahan was in town Thursday, first to stop at Warwick Hills to talk about the second Ally Challenge that will be played Sept. 9-15, but also to spend time later in the afternoon at Detroit Golf Club, site of the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic on the PGA Tour.
The events highlight a return to Michigan for the PGA Tour, which hadn’t played regularly in the state since the final Buick Open was played at Warwick Hills in 2009.
“I would say the excitement is palpable, and it’s not just me,” Monahan said. “You look at the players on the PGA Tour Champions and the players on the PGA Tour, to be back here in Michigan and to be back in such a big and powerful way with two great events is something that we take enormous pride in.
“We saw that, when we looked at last year and saw the crowds out here and the incredible response from the community and we know we’re going to get more of that this year, literally, and I think you’ll see that same thing at Detroit Golf Club.”
Paul Broadhurst won the first Ally Challenge, as many of the players in the 78-man field had played Warwick Hills regularly when it hosted the Buick Open.
Broadhurst shot a 6-under 66 in the final round to finish at 15-under for the tournament, birdieing No. 18 and finishing two shots clear of first-round leader Brandt Jobe, who was at 13-under after carding a 5-under 67 in the final round. Three shots back were Mark O’Meara and Tom Lehman.
This year’s primary beneficiaries will be Genesee County Habitat for Humanity and United Way of Genesee County.
“Both of these charities are focused on building economic mobility, which is at the heart of our philanthropic efforts at Ally,” said Andrea Brimmer, chief marketing and public relations officer for Ally. “We know that the tournament will have a lasting and positive impact on this community for years to come through the work of Genesee County Habitat for Humanity and United Way of Genesee County.”