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New PGA event coming to Warwick Hills

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ABC12 in Flint is reporting from their website that a PGA event, rumored to be the Champions Tour, is coming to Grand Blanc.    An announcement is forthcoming next week.   Warwick Hills was the site of the Buick Open for many years and was a favorite of many of the professional golfers. 

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The Ally Challenge starts tomorrow and runs thru Sunday in Grand Blanc.   Some big names from the Champions Tour will be playing.

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It was great to see professional golf again in Grand Blanc.   The tournament was fantastic.   The weather, golf and facilities were top notch.   If you get a chance next year, put this on your calendar.   The course is great for the Champions Tour.   

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The Ally Challenge has announced dates for next year.  Sept. 9-15, 2019 at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club.



GRAND BLANC TOWNSHIP, MI -- Officials for The Ally Challenge presented by McLaren were so pleased with the way the inaugural PGA Tour Champions event went last month that it will occupy the same spot on the schedule in 2019.

There were concerns that holding the tournament in September, when the college and pro football seasons were heating up, might hurt attendance.

But tournament director Chris Coffman said football didn't impact the gate as some feared so Ally Challenge officials passed on an opportunity to move the event to August and will instead hold it Sept. 9-15, 2019 at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club.


What does the future hold for Ally Challenge after inaugural event?

What does the future hold for Ally Challenge after inaugural event?

"We looked at another date in August and kind of went back and forth and based upon the feedback from the players, which was really positive, they liked the date," Coffman said Wednesday at Warwick Hills.

"Our title sponsor, Ally, and McLaren loved the date. And our crowds were really good. So when you put all that together, don't reinvent the wheel."

Players raved about the size of the crowds, which were large by Champions Tour standards. Coffman said that more than 60,000 tickets were distributed and although all of them weren't scanned, attendance exceed expectations.

Exceeded expectations was a phrase he used several times when talking about the $2 million event, which will see its purse grow slightly next year -- probably by about $100,000 or so.

England's Paul Broadhurst won the $300,000 top prize with a score of 15-under-par against a field that included former Buick Open champions Fred Couples and Vijay Singh as well as international stars Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie.

Fan favorite John Daly was also in the field but withdrew midway through the first round because of a neck/shoulder injury.

Back in the days of the Buick Open, players always liked visiting Warwick Hills because of its immaculate greens, prime scoring conditions and large, enthusiastic crowds.

Coffman said he got the same feedback about The Ally Challenge while pointing out that pro golfers -- especially those who have celebrated their 50th birthdays like those on the Champions Tour -- aren't shy about voicing their unhappiness if something doesn't please them.

He was thrilled at what Couples had to say, calling Couples "the Tiger Woods of this Tour" and somebody who carries a lot of clout on the Champions Tour.

"He basically said 'Some of the best crowds of the year. Way to go. Everybody that's playing in this tournament is happy to be back here and this will be the No. 1 tournament on this Tour within the next three years,'" Coffman said.

"After I got that feedback, we did a lot of things right with this tournament because you don't get that from a player like that unless it's real."

Former Buick Open champion Jim Furyk will be eligible to play on the Champions Tour next year and Coffman expects him and Steve Stricker to both be in the 2019 Ally Challenge field.

Coffman thinks the tournament will again benefit from not having a Champions Tour event the week prior to the Ally Challenge, meaning the players will be fresh when they come to Michigan.

He said next year's tournament will be televised on a tape-delayed basis from 7-9 p.m. Friday-Sunday on Golf Channel because, unlike this year, there is also a PGA Tour event that week.

Coffman said there are also plans to hold another concert at Warwick Hills -- country stars Big & Rich performed this year -- but that the act has not been lined up yet.


Crazy golf stories from Ally Challenge pro-am (and some are even true)

He said it's also likely the tickets for the golf tournament and concert will be sold separately after patrons said they would prefer that method.

Coffman said the tournament will announce its donation to Flint-area charities in November after all the bills from this year's event are paid.

Back when Woods played in the Buick Open, the donations were routinely in the $500,000-$600,000 range. The purse for the final Buick Open was $5.1 million so it would seem The Ally Challenge couldn't make the same type of donation, right?

"I don't know," Coffman said slyly. "We've got some really good news coming. We've got some really good stuff coming. The community has benefited and is going to benefit from some really good charitable contributions.

"I'm feeling really, really excited knowing what I know."

Edited by dennyjones

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