The BMW Championship Returns to Carmel
Writer / Janelle Morrison
In just a few weeks, golf spectators will soon be lined up along the Crooked Stick Golf Club to watch the world’s top 70 players play in the 2016 BMW Championship in Carmel.
The BMW Championship is the penultimate event in the PGA TOUR’s FedEx Cup Playoffs. Players like Phil Mickelson, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Robert Garrigus will return to Carmel’s premiere golf course September 6-11. The Crooked Stick Golf Club hosted the BMW Championship in 2012.
Built in 1964 by the famous course architects Pete and Alice Dye, it was host to the PGA Championship in 1991 won by John Dalyand and the U.S. Women’s Open in 1993 won by Lauri Merten. It also hosted the Solheim Cup matches in 2005.
The BMW Championship is the third oldest, active tournament on the PGA Tour after the British Open and U.S. Open. It has been recognized as the PGA Tour’s “Tournament of the Year” in 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2015. The Western Golf Association (WGA) conducts the tournament. All
proceeds from the BMW Championship support the Evans Scholars Foundation that provides full tuition and housing grants to deserving caddies.
The BMW Championship’s total purse is $8.5 million in prize money and $1.53 million to the winner. The defending player is Jason Day who won the 2015 Championship at Whistling Straits.
“As the winner of the 2015 BMW Championship, I am proud to have my name inscribed on the J.K. Wadley Trophy alongside golf legends Walter Hagen, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. This event not only celebrates the history of our golf sport, but it also does so much good for young people through its relationship with the Evans Scholar Foundation. I look forward to joining all of you in September at Crooked Stick for the 2016 BMW Championship.”
Also returning to Crooked Stick is Robert Garrigus. Garrigus finished T4 alongside Tiger Woods at the 2012 BMW Championship at Crooked Stick, among a top 10 leaderboard that included Rory McIlroy (1), Phil Mickelson (T2), Lee Westwood (T2), Tiger Woods (T4), Dustin Johnson (T6), Adam Scott (T6), Vijay Singh (8) and Jim Furyk (9). With rounds of 67-69-66-69, including a bogey-free 66 in the third round, Garrigus easily advanced to the FedEx Cup Playoffs finale, the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, finishing T10 in Atlanta and ending the season a career-high 23rd in the FedEx Cup.
Although he missed the Playoffs last season, Garrigus is on his way to the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings (the top 125 qualify for the Playoffs following the final event of the regular season, the Wyndham Championship). He has finished in the top 10 in two of his last three starts, most recently with a T8 finish at last week’s Quicken Loans National. Two weeks earlier, he finished a season-best T4 at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
“I played really well the last time that I was at Crooked Stick,” Garrigus said. “I enjoyed the feel of the sand, playing on a lush course in the summertime and how excited and knowledgeable the members were about golf. My family and I have always enjoyed the Indianapolis and Carmel areas. I feel the most important thing that we (professional golfers) can do is help the youth and people who otherwise couldn’t go to college or play golf. We can help pave the way for them to do things that some of us (players) didn’t get to do.
“My mom worked four jobs to put me through a community college, so I know how important it is to have a college education and how much work and sacrifice it takes to do it. To be able to support a foundation that assists caddies who don’t otherwise have the means to go to college is pretty cool.”
David Robinson, WGA Evans Scholar Foundation Chairman of the Board, spoke on the championship’s sole beneficiary and the WGA’s relationship with BMW.
“The Evans Scholar Foundation is the sole beneficiary of the BMW Championship. It is the nation’s largest privately-funded scholarship program and certainly the largest scholarship program for caddies,” Robinson said. “We’ve enjoyed a great relationship with BMW over the years. Since becoming our partner in 2007, the BMW Championship has helped raise $21 million for the Evans Scholar program. The synergy that we enjoy with BMW is fantastic.”
The Crooked Stick Tournament Co-chair Kent Frandsen described the renovations that the course underwent after hosting the 2012 championship to make it even more inviting and yes, even more challenging than the course already was for even the most accomplished golfer.
“Crooked Sticks members are thrilled to again partner with the WGA and host this year’s championship,” Robinson enthused. “We have made some significant investments at our course since 2012, some of which will present new challenges to the top 70 players of the world. After the success of the 2012 event, we knew that we would be interested in hosting this again. When we received the inquiry a couple of years ago from the WGA, we jumped at the opportunity.
“This will be the 10th national or international championship conducted at Crooked Stick since 1982. Our members have been extremely supportive of all of these competitions. We are pleased that we have already exceeded the level of corporate support this year that we experienced and enjoyed in 2012.
“The course improvements were started in 2014 and completed last year. They include renovating 90 bunkers with a new drain system to better deal with the heavy rains that always seem to follow the PGA Tour at the most inopportune times. We’ve added seven new bunkers along the 7th and 10th holes. The tee boxes on the 3rd, 10th and 13th holes have been reconstructed or added. There was also a major reconstruction and improvement of our practice areas including an expanded range, tee, new short-game area and new putting green near the first tee.
“The elevated putting green in front of the clubhouse has also been expanded. Crooked Stick worked directly with Mr. Pete Dye to make these updates, and we are excited to unveil them as part of the 2016 Championship.”
Hosting the championship takes a great deal of the local community’s resources. The tournament relies on approximately 2,000 volunteers throughout the installation and teardown of the event. The teardown takes nearly 45 days after the event has concluded.
Crooked Stick’s members are incredibly supportive and volunteer throughout the event. They also willingly sacrifice 10 days of playing on their immaculate course while the tournament is underway. The members and community’s support does not go unappreciated by the players or the WGA leadership and associates.
WGA Senior Vice President Vince Pellegrino elaborated on the WGA’s appreciation for the city, county and club’s support and use of their resources, so that the WGA can conduct a world-class golf championship.
“We had such a tremendous event here at Crooked Stick in 2012,” Pellegrino said. “The City of Carmel and Hamilton County officials were extremely supportive in 2012 and continue to be supportive leading up to this championship for 2016. The tournament was so successful with the regards to the amount of money that was raised for the Evans Scholar Foundation.
“Our spectators and our corporate partners get to come out and watch some incredible golf, but at the end of the day, we can all feel great that the proceeds benefit the Evans Scholars. As an Evans Scholar myself, I couldn’t be more proud of the work that the organization is doing to support hardworking caddies.
“The community itself is so supportive, whether with volunteerism, ticket buyers or corporate hospitality. Everybody steps up and, in return, gets to see some of the best players in the game. It was a natural for us to want to come back here to Carmel and to Crooked Stick, one of the premiere courses in the country and Pete Dye’s masterpiece.”