Last August, PGA Tour Champions announced the addition of the ClubCorp Classic golf tournament at Las Colinas Country Club to its schedule. Now, just under three months away from the inaugural event on April 19-24, Dallas-based ClubCorp has agreed to a four-year presenting sponsorship deal with Choctaw Casinos & Resorts.
“I think culturally, at the heart of this sponsorship, Choctaw and ClubCorp have so much in common,” ClubCorp CEO David Pillsbury said. “We have many shared values as organizations, and their commitment to making a difference in the community and how they use their platform to make that impact has helped blossom our relationship.”
The agreement represents Choctaw Casino & Resorts’ first such sponsorship in the organization’s history. Last year, Choctaw brought the Choctaw Club to TPC Craig Ranch at the AT&T Byron Nelson and snagged the naming rights to the Texas Rangers’ former stadium.
“Golf and hospitality go hand-in-hand,” said Janie Dillard, Choctaw senior executive officer “So, this partnership, on Choctaw’s side, was a no-brainer. We really didn’t have to dive too far into the analytics for us to realize this was going to drive our traffic significantly.”
ClubCorp has also completed a secondary sponsorship with Insurance Offices of America, according to Pillsbury.
This unique golf weekend, which is expected to draw upwards of 20,000 fans, will showcase some of the most recognizable names on the PGA Tour Champions circuit playing alongside sports and entertainment stars. An unprecedented amateur presence will also bring the top ClubCorp amateur golfers–who earned their way into the tournament through qualifying events–inside the ropes to play the weekend with the pros and celebrities.
The tournament will benefit numerous nonprofits across North Texas, including the Momentous Institute, which aims to build and repair children’s social-emotional health. In addition, ClubCorp’s Gateway Program with First Tee, which opens the doors of ClubCorp private clubs to First Tee junior golf participants with a focus on growing diversity within ClubCorp clubs and throughout the golf industry, will also be a beneficiary of the proceeds.
Pillsbury is forecasting an economic impact of $15 million, with charitable donations coming in somewhere between $25,000 and $50,000 in the inaugural year. “But we have big expectations for year two, three, and four,” the ClubCorp CEO said. “Getting into the seven digits will be the goal. We want to make this thing big.”
Celebrity golf event veteran Mike Flaskey, the ClubCorp Classic’s founder and executive director, will operate the tournament. In seven years running the LPGA’s Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions in Orlando, Flaskey has raised $5 million for Orlando nonprofits.
“For me, it’s always about the charity,” Flaskey said. “That’s why I started the events that I’ve started is to be able to give back. I think at the core of anything we do–while we’re providing entertainment for people–it is to be able to raise money and do great things for these charities.”
A Party Atmosphere
Tournament officials want the week, of course, to showcase the newly renovated Las Colinas Country Club, ClubCorp, Choctaw, and all the affiliated nonprofits, but also to provide the golf community with a party experience unlike any other tournament. And it begins with a concert headlined by Cole Swindell Tuesday night, April 19, after the tournament’s pro-am draw party hosted at The Pavilion At Toyota Music Factory.
“And Choctaw VIPs, every night of the week, will have something to do,” Flaskey added. “Larry the Cable Guy could do a stand up session for some VIPs, if there are any New York Yankees fans, Reggie Jackson will have dinner with a group of 10, and on and on. So, when fans come to one of our events, we actually activate every night, versus just the basic golf experience you see in the professional golf world without the celebrity component.”
The ClubCorp Classic will showcase 78 PGA Tour Champions professionals and 50 sports and entertainment celebs. The PGA Tour Champions pros will compete in 54 holes of stroke play for a purse of $2 million, along with the celebrities in a separate $500,000 competition utilizing a modified Stableford scoring format. Qualifying ClubCorp amateurs will compete alongside the stars in their own modified Stableford, low gross and low net format.
Among the celebrities confirmed is Annika Sorenstam, World Golf Hall of Fame member and 72-time LPGA winner, 11-time MLB All-Star pitcher Roger Clemens, Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown, MLB Network Analyst and 12-year MLB standout Kevin Millar, as well as stars of the music and entertainment world with previously mentioned Larry the Cable Guy, Brian Baumgartner, and Colt Ford.
Single-day grounds tickets will begin at $30 and three-day passes will start at $70.