Article was written for Eye on KELOLAND by Eric Mayer (Click HERE for original copy)
We are less than 100 days away from what hopes to become a signature event for Sioux Falls much like the Summit League Tournament.
The Sanford International is a PGA Tour Champions golf tournament that will take place in mid-September at the Minnehaha Country Club.
O’Gorman grad Justin Kolb and his friend are enjoying a round of golf at Minnehaha on a quiet June day. The future USD golfer, however, is already looking ahead to September’s Sanford International and some of the top names in the sport coming to Sioux Falls.
“By far John Daly is definitely the one I’m looking forward to seeing the most. Hoping to get a picture with him or something like that. I’ll definitely be out here for the tournament so hopefully I’ll see him,” Kolb said.
Kolb is getting tickets to the event hosted by the country club starting September 17. Mickey Finn is the Director of Golf here and says renovations are right on track.
“It is coming along swimmingly,” Finn said.
On top of expanding the clubhouse, several holes are being extended and tee boxes at 2, 3, 5, 11 and 18 are getting a fresh new look.
“Six of the tees have been redone. We tried to extend a little bit of length. We were very fortunate the golf course kind of held its own. The tour just wanted us to add a little bit of length,” Finn said.
Greg Conrad is the tournament director. He says community support has been great so far.
“We’re doing really well with volunteers but we still need more volunteers. Ticket sales are going great, but if you want your tickets we want you to get them early so we can plan and make sure we get you here,” Conrad said.
Just off the 17th green, a giant grandstand will be filled with fans in just about 100 days. As you can see, there’s also the bike trail. There will be a special entrance for anybody riding their bikes or running to the event.
“We’ll start that probably late July. We’ll start building what we call a small city. We’ll build grandstands based on our ticket sales. We’ll build hospitality all throughout the golf course,” Conrad said.
All of the proceeds will go to the Sanford Health Foundation that includes the Children’s Miracle Network and Cure Kids Cancer.
“There’s opportunities to do everything out here. People watch, eat, drink, network, watch golf, watch football, hang out and just experience something that’s brand new. We haven’t even talked about the fact that you’re going to see 78 of the best golfers in the world here putting their competitive juices out on the golf course. It’s going to be fun,” Conrad said.
Conrad and Finn say the Sanford International is at least a five-year commitment. Finn hopes PGA Tour Champions golfers enjoy the course when they get here but wants them to be challenged. He says these holes are built for prevailing winds out of the southwest, north and east.
“You know we’re hoping for a little bit of South Dakota wind for the boys to see how they handle the golf course in a true South Dakota weekend,” Finn said.
Regardless of the weather, the golf tournament will be here before you know it. An international broadcast of the action will be seen in 190 countries and potentially more than 300 million households around the world.
“We’re doing something really cool here. We’re excited but we’re also a little anxious because we want to make sure we put on a good show for everybody. There’s a lot of people investing a lot of time and a lot of energy and a lot of money. So there’s lot of pressure to make sure things work,” Conrad said.