The world’s top golfers ages 50 and above will descend upon a renewed Benton Harbor for the fourth time, May 24-27, to shoot it out in the 79th KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship along the shores of Lake Michigan.
Fans wanting an up-close look at players like Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer, Rocco Mediate, Colin Montgomerie, John Daly, Steve Stricker and others can do so at the Golf Club of Harbor Shores while enjoying some new fan amenities being add this year. As always, kids 17 and under get in free with a paid adult.
The newest planned addition is the Family Fun Zone, Friday – Sunday, located in Jean Klock Park which is wrapped by holes 7-9 – three holes that travel along the backside of a Lake Michigan sand dune with views of the beach and massive water. Kids can hit balls into nets or at inflatable animals, while other fun activities are still in the planning stages. That Saturday, KitchenAid will have Kids’ Day in the KitchenAid Fairway Club. Last year the tournament had a smoothie making contest. That same evening a first-ever concert is being scheduled for the tournament as well.
Championship Director Ryan Ogle said he plans to add a special autograph zone for kids only, likely around the practice areas.
“As you often see at some of these events you have people that want to get autographs and we want to make sure kids have the first opportunity, so we’ll provide that space for them.” Ogle said.
“Every year that the event is contested at Harbor Shores, the attendance has been mind-blowing,” he added about 2012, ’14 and ‘16. “We have people from all over the nation, but more importantly we have the people that live here, who vacation here, that recreate here, come and support this community event. Yes, we’re putting on a golf major championship but it’s bigger than that.”
Another new feature, for adults, is designed to highlight the Southwest Michigan growth in craft beer production. The Weekly Makers Trail 19th hole will be a special access viewing area near the 16th green/17th tee serving local beer, wine and spirits.
More information on special advance ticket pricing and general fan information can be found at www.srPGA.com.
Revitalizing a Challenged Benton Harbor
Some would call it far-reaching to think a golf course development could change the minds, attitudes and direction of thousands of people in two neighboring cities. Yet many would argue that is precisely what’s happened with the Jack Nicklaus designed Golf Club at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor and the surrounding residential and business growth the past 10 years in what was known as a blighted and struggling region, now finding new life.
The latest development – a residential section called Harbor Village – is one more piece of the timeline that has shown that Benton Harbor and St. Joseph city leaders could come together and forge an environmental improvement and economic resurgence of the region that’s good for both.
“The overall impact on this community has been immeasurable,” said Darwin Watson, who has lived in Benton Harbor his entire life and became city manager. “Having grown up here and knowing what this was, from my earliest memories and to see what it’s transformed into now, gives the sense that we’re moving in the right direction and it aligns us with other communities that are moving forward and trying to develop a sense of place.
“The communities have gotten behind this, and reached across the aisle – across the river – and have worked to make this come to fruition in a collaborative effort that everyone can enjoy.”
More information on Harbor Village can be found at: http://harborshorelife.com