Golf Tournament Swings to Branson
Information released last week by the Professional Golfers Association has confirmed that “serious and beneficial” talks are ongoing with Bass Pro Shops to become the new title sponsor of the “Legends of Golf” annual tournament, a staple of the Champions Tour.
If a deal is actually reached, the 36th rendition of the popular two-man team event “Legends of Golf” could be held as early as this June at Branson Creek Golf Club in Hollister.
The tournament was founded in 1978 and consisted of a 54-hole two-man team better-ball event for men over 50. Its success provided impetus for the formation of the Senior PGA Tour in 1980. In 1987, a Legendary Division was added.
Over the years, the tournament has been played at just seven different locations, with stops in Austin, Texas and Savannah, Georgia hosting the tournament for more than three years. Some of the winners of the event over the past 35 seasons have included Mark O’Meara, Bernhard Langer, Andy North, Tom Watson, Jay Haas, Hale Erwin, Bruce Lietzke, Lee Trevino, Bill Casper and Sam Sneed.
Sources close to the PGA said last week that after Liberty Mutual Insurance decided not to renew the longest-running title sponsorship in golf that the tournament wouldn’t return to Savannah, its home for the past 11 years, in 2014. Springfield based Bass Pro Shops entered into the possibly sponsorship scene late in 2013 and PGA officials had announced their desire to name a new sponsor for the tour and the Legends event by the end of January.
Although they missed their deadline, all indications are that Branson will become a stop
Although there has been no official announcement, sources said the PGA and bass Pro Shop marketing gurus met last Friday and approval for the tournament to be added to the 2014 schedule could be sought as early as the Champions Tour's Player Advisory Council meeting this week during the Allianz Championship.
If approved, the Legends of Golf likely would be held during the first week in June to allow tournament organizers sufficient time to launch in a new market before returning to its traditional late-April date in future years.
Currently, the Champions Tour schedule has two off weeks between the Principal Charity Classic, which finishes June 1, and the Encompass Championship, which begins June 20th.
Branson has become a desirable designation for golfers throughout the US over the past twenty years with the development of several highly regarded and rated courses that have sprung up in support of resort development.
Branson Creek Golf Course, which was recently purchased by a subsidiary company of Big Cedar Lodge, closed down in November of last year for renovations and upgrades over the winter months. The course, rated the #1 public golf course in the state of Missouri by Golf Week Magazine in 2013, plans to reopen in the late spring of 2014, with the “Legends” tournament expected to be the first major event after the reopening.
Sources say that a fishing tournament among the golf pros would be part of the Legends' unique atmosphere.
The event is expected to have a major economic impact and could make Branson a Mecca and annual destination for golf fans from around the world for years to come.
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