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Sycamore Hills to bring another prestigious golf event to city event to have major impact on local economy

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 2:18 am

Sycamore Hills Golf Club has added another major golf tournament to its hosting résumé, but also the chance to make an economic impact on Fort Wayne. Officially announced yesterday afternoon under on-and-off rain, the club was named host of the “Hotel Fitness Championship,” one of the four “ Tour Finals” events.

The event has an estimated $4-5 million impact on the local economy and will be shown on the Golf Channel.

“We'll play the golf tournament in front of the Golf Channel cameras and televising this tournament to about 185 counties around the world,” Tim Benton, vice president of business affairs for the PGA Tour, said. “In the U.S. it will air on the Golf Channel … so the audience potential is very large. We are glad to put Fort Wayne in that spotlight and showcase this great city.”

The Tour Finals are a new endeavor for the tour, formerly known as the Nationwide tour, in which four events will determine the final 50 players to receive their tour card. Fort Wayne hosts the first of the four events from Aug. 26-Sept. 1, 2013. Two of the other three cities already named are Columbus, Ohio, and Charlotte, N.C.

“We want to set a benchmark for all the finals events by providing a challenging, immaculately groomed golf course, memorable, gracious Hoosier hospitality and a competitive environment that rivals the best championships in golf,” Sycamore Hills General Manager COO Eric Schneider said.

The tournament is quite a bit more extensive than the other events Sycamore Hills has hosted. It will require more than 500 volunteers and logistics for all the players, caddies, Golf Channel, Western Golf Association (WGA) members and more.

“This is a Junior PGA Championship on steroids,” Schneider said. “Just a lot of infrastructure that occurs with a event that you don't really have at a Junior PGA Championship or USGA Championship.”

The process for Sycamore Hills realistically began nearly 18 months ago when the PGA Tour looked to reinvent the Nationwide Tour. More closely, though, it started about four to five months ago, Schneider said. He had contacts with the WGA, the organization conducting the tournament, from a previous job and had already planned a site visit with the group about hosting a tournament. The PGA Tour then approached the WGA about one of's new Tour Finals events. Once a sponsor in Hotel Fitness was found, everything else fell into place.

“I know Sycamore Hills has been looking to have a golf tournament for a long time and just trying to find the right fit and having the PGA Tour players come to town, it was really the right fit for them,” Vince Pellegrino said, vice president of tournaments for the WGA. “It was really the perfect storm if you will, having the right golf course, the right sponsor, the PGA Tour and the host organization, the WGA.”

The total purse for the event is $1 million, with the winner receiving $180,000. Players eligible for the event are the top-75 money winners from the Tour money list at the end of the regular season, players who finish 126-200 on the PGA Tour's FedExCup points list at the end of the PGA Tour's regular season and non-members who earned enough FedExCup points based on their performance on the PGA Tour to place them 126-200 on the points list.