For the first time since the 1959 Kentucky Derby Open, a regular PGA Tour event was held in the Bluegrass State in July. And, even with 5 inches of rain and heavy winds, the Champions at Keene Trace course outside Lexington hosted more than 25,000 visitors throughout the week.
The tournament also saw another return to the PGA Tour – Colonnade Group.
“We started as a golf event management company back in the early 1990s,” says John Turner, Chief Revenue Officer of Colonnade Group, “and it’s fun to be back on the course.”
What made the July 16 through 22 tournament extra special for both attendees and Colonnade was the collaboration with Birdies for the Brave and the non-profit Kentucky Wounded Heroes program. Throughout tournament week there were fundraisers, club-fittings for wounded veterans, free tickets for military members and first responders and a Blackhawk flyover at the beginning of the tournament.
“We were honored to help create the backdrop for such a special tournament,” continues Turner. “It’s very important at Colonnade to support non-profits and to honor those who have bravely served our country.”
According to tournament director Brooks Downing, “The reviews we got back from our patrons as well as our participants were all so positive. I think we hit the mark on what we were trying to establish, including the premium hospitality offering, the fan experience, and the level of golf that was played.”
“We learned a lot this year,” Turner added. “And there’s a lot of knowledge we can apply not only to next year’s Barbasol Championship, but also to any outdoor event. In a stadium or an arena, we can control almost every variable, but outdoors, we are at nature’s mercy. At Barbasol, we believe we weathered the storm wonderfully.”
Overall, Downing was pleased with the turnout, especially considering the periodic rain storms. “Operationally, I thought we hit the mark. From a fan experience, we were pretty close,” he said. “All things considered, I thought it was a tremendous success. But we know it will be even bigger and better in the future.”