SBD/September 17, 2013/Events and Attractions

Conway Farms Praised As BMW Championship Host, Expects Return In '15

Conway Farms officials said more than 130,000 fans attended the event
The Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, Ill., "played to solid reviews" in its debut hosting the PGA Tour BMW Championship, according to Herb Gould of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. The course is "tentatively scheduled to host it again in two years, after the tournament plays at Cherry Hills, outside Denver, next year." There were "some parking and traffic issues, but the north suburban location of Conway Farms, and the support the tournament received from its members as well as the North Shore community, helped make the BMW a success." Play was rained out on Sunday and forced a Monday finish, but event officials said that more than 130,000 spectators "turned out during the week" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/17). In Chicago, Teddy Greenstein writes there is "little doubt" that Conway Farms will host the event again in '15. Western Golf Association President & CEO John Kaczkowski, whose organization runs the event, said, "It has been a huge hit." However, Greenstein notes traffic "was a mess." Kaczkowski said, "We need to address that, no question." He said that the tournament "will look into using parking lots that are farther from the course." Meanwhile, the players "had nothing but raves for the course, especially the conditioning and the greens." BMW's contract with the PGA Tour is up after Cherry Hills hosts next year's event, but the WGA and the tour "hope to sign a new contract with BMW before the calendar flips to 2014." Assuming that "happens, it's a near certainty the club in Lake Forest will repeat as host" in '15. The tour and WGA beyond '15 "will consider other Chicago venues, though few present a rigorous enough challenge, can handle 40,000 spectators and have an open membership policy" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/17). The SUN-TIMES' Gould notes Tiger Woods is "among those who think Conway Farms is worthy of hosting" the event again. Woods said, "I'm sure it will come back. ... Great sporting town. They've supported their sports here, and they've come out and supported golf as well" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/17).

ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH: GOLFWEEK's Forecaddie reports the '14 BMW Championship could "break the record" for the most money given to the Western Golf Association's Evans Scholars Foundation, the event's charitable beneficiary. Koaczkowski said early sales have indicated the tourney could net $5-6M for the program. The current record is $3.5M from the '08 event at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis. This year's event "likely will push just north of $3 million." The '14 BMW organizing committee has recruited Pro Football HOFer John Elway and Broncos QB Peyton Manning "to join other sports celebs in a commercial to launch sales" (GOLFWEEK, 9/20 issue).
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