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Professional golf returns to St. Louis with PGA Tour Champions set to begin play in 2020 with a tournament

Professional golf is returning to St. Louis for the next four years.

These people spoke at the annoucement that the PGA Tour Champions is coming to St. Louis and will play at Norwood Hills Country Club. From left, Carol Daniel (KMOX News and emcee), Shuntae Shields Ryan (vice president of marketing & communications, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis), Joseph Bestgen (Marygrove CEO), Sister Helen Negri (Former CEO, Marygrove), Hale Irwin (professional golfer and longtime St. Louisan), Nick Ragone (EVP, chief marketing & communications officer, Ascension), Hazel Erby (Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, St. Louis County), Billy Andrade (professional golfer), Miller Brady (President, PGA TOUR Champions), Brian Williams (Missouri State Senator) , and Michael McMillan (President & CEO, Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis). Photo by Chris Malacarne

The PGA TOUR Champions and Ascension have announced a four-year partnership to host a new professional golf tournament in St. Louis.

The Ascension Charity Classic will debut Sept. 28 – Oct. 4, 2020 at Norwood Hills Country Club. It’s the first time the PGA TOUR has hosted an annual event in the St. Louis region since 2001, and the first major sporting event in recent times to be hosted in North County.

This 54-hole stroke play golf tournament will feature World Golf Hall of Fame members and many of the top PGA TOUR Champions professionals competing in this inaugural championship. The Ascension Charity Classic will be the latest addition to the PGA TOUR Champions schedule which includes 27 tournaments in four countries and 19 states.

PGA TOUR Champions President Miller Brady, Ascension Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Nick Ragone, World Golf Hall of Fame member Hale Irwin and four-time PGA TOUR Champions winner Billy Andrade all spoke at the announcement.

Irwin, who lived for years in St. Louis resident, was a big part in the community. He has a wing in his name at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Irwin has enjoyed a solid career. He has won 20 PGA Tour events, including the U.S. Open three times. The he joined the Champions Tour and saw even bigger success. He has won 45 tournaments, including seven majors.

But he’s proud of the association the tour has with charities.

From left, Bill Andrade (professional golfer), Hale Irwin (professional golfer and longtime St. Louisan), and Stewart Moore (Senior Director of Communications, PGA TOUR Champions) take questions and speak about the tournament coming to St. Louis. Photo by
Chris Malacarne

“The players are very conscious of showing they involve themselves with the charities and tournaments, and that trickles down to the people in the community,” Irwin said. “We’re proud of that fact.”

Andrade likes playing on the tour.

“When you’re starting out of college in your 20s and 30s, you’re just trying to survive,” said Andrade, who is 55. “You’ve got this job because you’re very good at it, but if you don’t perform every single year, you might be on the outside looking in.

“When you turn 50, it’s like you died and have gone to heaven. You’ve got this great group of guys playing with less stress. You have to play unbelievable golf, but it’s a different animal. It’s more friendly.”

Brady is bullish on the tournament coming to St. Louis.

“We’re thrilled to bring the Ascension Charity Classic to St. Louis, and particularly to North County at Norwood Hills,” said Brady. “The St. Louis area is one of the great sports regions in the United States, known for its passionate, dedicated fans and history of charitable giving and community engagement. This combination of great sports fans, community engagement and charitable giving is what the PGA TOUR is all about, and this will quickly become one of our premier events.”

“We wanted to host the Ascension Charity Classic at Norwood Hills because we know that it can serve as a catalyst to support the revitalization of North St. Louis County, including the Ferguson, Florissant and Jennings communities that neighbor the Norwood Hills Country Club,” said Ragone. “Players may compete, but the real winners will be North County and area charities. All proceeds will go to charitable organizations in the North County area that are working to build a better community. It’s a privilege to be able to be a part of the continued revitalization of our community and our region.”

At the announcement, several charities were named as beneficiaries of the tournament, including Marygrove, a residential facility for children and teens; the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis; and Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis.

“Our mission at Marygrove is to help children, teens and young adults learn how to overcome an abusive past and move towards a brighter future,” said Joseph Bestgen, the Marygrove CEO. “We’re able to enrich the lives of over 1,100 young people in this community each year with the help of individuals and organizations, like Ascension, who are committed to this cause.”

The event will be managed by HNS Sports Group with Barney Hinkle serving as the Tournament Director and Tim Heitmann as Assistant Tournament Director.

Norwood Hills Country Club, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005, hosted the 1948 PGA Championship that was won by World Golf Hall of Fame member Ben Hogan) and the PGA TOUR’s Greater St. Louis Golf Classic in 1972 and 1973.

PGA TOUR Champions contested the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Match Play Championship at Boone Valley Golf Club in nearby Augusta, Missouri, from 1996 through 2001.

The announcement sets the foundation for an exciting tenure of PGA TOUR Champions golf in St. Louis as some of golf’s biggest names prepare to turn 50 in the coming year. World Golf Hall of Fame member Ernie Els, 17-time PGA TOUR winner Jim Furyk, 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir, eight-time TOUR winner K.J. Choi and World Golf Hall of Fame member Phil Mickelson will all celebrate their 50th birthdays over the next 12 months.

All rounds of the Ascension Charity Classic will be broadcast on Golf Channel. Internationally, telecasts air in excess of 170 countries and territories, reaching more than 340 million potential households, and distributed in 15+ markets via GOLFTV.

Based in St. Louis, Ascension is one of the leading non-profit and Catholic health systems in the U.S., with more than 150,000 associates and 2,600 sites of care across 21 states and the District of Columbia. In keeping with the organization’s mission to deliver compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable, all proceeds from the Ascension Charity Classic tournament will be donated to local nonprofits. Last year, Ascension provided $2 billion in care of the poor and other community benefit.

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