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Pro golf set to return to the Flint area next year

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

Next year, professional golf will return to the Flint area.

The Buick Open was a popular stop on the PGA tour for decades.

Tiger Woods won the final Buick Open in Flint in 2009. A lot’s happened to Flint and Tiger Woods in the decade since. At least professional golf is successfully making a comeback in Genesee County.   

PGA officials say its senior circuit, known as the Champions Tour, will return to the Warwick Hills Country Club in Grand Blanc in September of 2018.   Tour President Greg McLaughlin says many of the golfers over 50 played in the old Buick Open in their youth.

Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
In little more than a year, the PGA's Champions tour will stop in Grand Blanc

“For us, we’re ecstatic to come back here,” says McLaughlin. “Anytime our players can return to a place where they played on the PGA tour.”

Mark O’Meara never had much luck when he played in the Buick Open. However, the British Open and Augusta champion is looking forward to returning to the Genesee County golf course.

“I’ve always enjoyed coming to play Warwick Hills,” O’Meara told an overflow crowd at the country club’s main clubhouse. “The pressure is still there because we’re out there to try to compete and win.”

Chamber of Commerce officials say the tournament is expected to generate an estimated $20 million for the local economy. It’s also expected to provide the Flint area with some much needed positive image building.

“As you know we’ve had our challenges,” says Tim Herman, CEO Flint/Genesee Chamber of Commerce, “but this just shows that we’re open for business.”

Ally Financial is the main sponsor of the event. The company has a three-year deal with the PGA to sponsor the event. An Ally official spoke optimistically that the relationship will continue for a “decade”, which would be just long enough for Tiger Woods to qualify to play on the Champions Tour.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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