Kentucky Getting Regular PGA Tour Stop With Relocated Barbasol Championship In '18
The PGA Tour will be "making a regular stop in Central Kentucky when the Barbasol Championship begins play next year at Keene Trace Golf Club’s Champions Trace course in Nicholasville," according to Jared Peck of the LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER. Coming into its fourth year, the purse has been "one of the smallest on tour" at $3.5M. Its placement on the calendar opposite the Open Championship means some of golf’s "top stars will be across the ocean." Coordinating the event will be the Bluegrass Sports Commission and BD Global, a company founded by that commission’s Chair, Brooks Downing. Downing had "developed a relationship with the PGA in winning the rights for BD Global to coordinate two events in the Bahamas on the smaller Web.com Tour." Terms of the deal "were not disclosed." However, Downing said that the event was "secured for three to five years, with intentions of making Nicholasville a permanent stop." Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville has "long been the site of some of men’s golf’s biggest events, including the Ryder Cup and three PGA Championships," but Kentucky has "not hosted a regular PGA Tour event since the Kentucky Derby Open" in the late '50s. Since '15, the Barbasol Championship has been "played at the Robert Trent Jones Trail Grand National Course in Opelika, Ala." As recently as July, RTJ’s management company "expressed confidence the event would return for the final year of its contract" in '18 and would soon be "renewed for several years beyond" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 10/19).
SURPRISE MOVE? In Lexington, Jared Peck writes Tour officials "would not say specifically" why the tournament was moved, but the fact that Lexington "offers a larger and largely untapped market likely played a major factor" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 10/19). Auburn, Ala., Mayor Bill Ham said the decision to move the tournament was "somewhat of a surprise" but said that it was "ultimately one the PGA Tour made." Barbasol Championship Tournament Dir Jonathan Romeo said that the original Barbasol agreement "called for the tournament to be held at the Grand National for four years, but was renegotiated to three" after the '15 tournament (OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS, 10/19).
IF YOU BUILD IT: In California, Larry Bohannan notes because of the new contract with tournament operator Lagadere, the PGA Tour CareerBuilder Challenge gives fans who buy tickets the "choice of not one but two post-round concerts during the week." Bohannan: "Which all begs the question: when did golf stop being enough at a golf tournament?" Musical acts have "become not just popular at golf tournaments, but practically a stable of such events." The tournaments understand these acts "aren’t trying to fill a 30,000-seat arena, just keep some people from leaving the golf course and get other people who wouldn’t go to the golf course any other way to show up and buy a $30 ticket." If the CareerBuilder has gone from one concert in '17 to two in '18, fans "have to wonder" what '19 might bring. In '17, fashion shows and art displays were also "part of the plan." Bohannan: "It would be good to see the La Quinta Arts Festival involved in the event, or fashion shows or other non-golf activities" (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 10/18).