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“The best players in the world will be here, the course is ready and a $600,000 purse is waiting for the winners,” said Dwayne Randall, Peek’n Peak’s director of Golf. Randall, himself a three-time Western New York PGA Section player of the year and a 2014 PGA Tournament winner, knows how to groom 18 holes for exciting play. The first place take home alone for this fan-favorite event will top $100,000 as the PGA Web.com Tour returns to Western New York after a 9 year absence.
The PGA Web.com Tour brings professional golf to 25 cities and resorts each year. The tour offers competing players an annual purse totaling close to $17.9 million. Winners also earn their PGA Tour card for the top tier events across the country.
Climb to Stardom
The scenic Upper Course at the Peek’n Peak Resort & Spa in Clymer, New York, with the aid of 450 volunteers, will host 30,000 spectators for the LECOM Health Challenge, a nationally televised PGA/Web.com Tour event (Golf Channel all four days in U.S., plus international distribution to 192 countries and territories). LECOM (Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine) is the title sponsor for the event.
Play tees off on Wednesday, July 6 with Pro-Am competition followed by 4 days of tournament play drawing on a top-ranked field of 156 professional golfers, on Thursday through Sunday, July 7 through 10.
In years past, many PGA Tour greats, including Jason Day, Brandt Snedeker and Bubba Watson started their own rise to fame at the Peek’n Peak links.
Arnold Palmer recently said, “There’s no question about the fact that the [Web.com] Tour is the proving ground for the regular Tour… when they go to the regular Tour, they’re prepared for it.”
One of the PGA Web.com’s rising stars, Rochester’s Dominic Bozzelli, is looking forward to his first visit to Peek’n Peak for this event. Most recently, on June 5, Bozzelli captured the number 1 spot at the ocean-side Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship in the Dominican Republic. He turned in a blazing 24-under-par score card for the challenging, four round match.
Bozzelli told the Gazette last week, “Puntacana was a fun day! Whether it is a championship round or a not, I always try to have the same mind set. It is very satisfying to win, but you just have to love the game and work hard to win your PGA tour card.” As a Rochester native, Bozzelli said, “It will be nice to have local support.” Bozzelli’s mom apparently captured her own share of the tour spotlight by greeting her son’s Puntacana win with a now famous PBJ sandwich. “You just have to stay well hydrated and eat smart,” Dominic added with a winning smile.
“With three out of four PGA Tour stars spending time on the Web.com Tour, this is the public’s chance to see the next PGA Tour superstars in the making,” said tournament spokesperson and CEO of the event host, Chautauqua Region Economic Development Corporation (CREDC), Kevin Sanvidge at a June 21 news conference held at the resort.
The press conference celebrating the return of PGA golf to Peak’n Peak was also the occasion for New York State Senator Cathy Young to present a check for $150,000 to the LECOM Health Challenge PGA Web.com Tour event organizers. Senator Young noted that the championship event is projected to deliver a $5 to $6 million economic impact to the area.
“I was pleased to be able to secure this funding,” Senator Young said, “because the tournament will highlight Chautauqua’s assets…the LECOM Health Challenge is a magnificent economic driver and it is exciting to have the tournament back at Peek’n Peak’s beautiful facility.”
The PGA/Web.com tournament proceeds are pledged to benefit the LECOM Student Scholarship Fund, Mikey’s Way Foundation (aimed at connecting every hospitalized child with friends, family and school through donated pads, laptops and phones, to cope with the separation during long-term treatment for cancer and other life threatening illnesses), local United Way chapters, Jamestown Community College Scholarship Funds, The First Tee of Western New York (encouraging and inspiring positive values and healthy choices in the next generation of Western New Yorkers through the experience of golf) along with several other local charitable organizations.
“Since we bought Peek’n Peak out of bankruptcy about 5 years ago,” Nick Scott, Sr., President of Scott Enterprises, owners and operators of several award winning properties including Peek’n Peak, said at the news conference, “we’ve invested $20 million in Western New York’s economy through our properties. This event is a major production and we are delighted to work with our great partners, LECOM and CREDC to host it.”
The PGA Tour surpassed $2 billion in charitable giving as of January 2014.
Danger Duffers, Fast Course
“We’re fortunate,” club pro Dwayne Randall said. “The golf course is in pretty good condition all the time. Our superintendent of the course and grounds does such a good job with a great staff of 20. There’s not nearly as much to having it championship ready as there could be, but we are trimming the greens for a fast roll.”
“We’re cutting the greens down lower, letting the rough grow longer and fertilizing it more,” Randall said. “Leading up to the event, every 3 or 4 days players here have noticed the greens got a little bit quicker, the rough got a little harder to hit out of and the slopes seemed a little bit steeper. When you turn a good golf course into a championship course, your average bogie golfer finds the course 10 to 20 shots harder.” As a 22-year golf professional, Randall knows golfers and golf courses.
“The challenges of holding a shot on a championship green, sinking an uphill putt and hitting for green placement can turn a birdie into a bogie. That’s what separates the PGA champ from the rest,” Randall said. “And that’s what will make this PGA Web.com event so much fun to watch.”
“And now our 18th hole is a real ‘risk-reward’ par 5,” he added. “If you can make the harder approach to the flag, you just might break par, but it can set up for some great dramatics at the end of the game.”
Speaking at last Tuesday’s press conference, Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan, himself a career military veteran, announced special recognition for those in service and in harm’s way. He noted that on opening day, Thursday, July 7 PGA Web.com will honor all military active duty, veterans and first responders with special admission arrangements. At the conclusion of the tournament, on Sunday, July 10 World War II veterans can meet at the 18th green for photo ops with the golfers.
“This will be another great event for Chautauqua County,” Horrigan said, “and for all of Western New York.”
Tickets for the PGA Web.com LECOM Health Challenge start at $10 per day with VIP and 4-day event tickets also available. Tickets are available for purchase online by visiting www.LECOMHealthChallenge.com, calling the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County at 716-483-1561, or onsite at Peek’n Peak Resort during tournament week.