novakThe economic impact The Golf Club at Harbor Shores will have on southwest Michigan could be felt here too.

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Scott Novak: Impact of golf course could be felt here too

Published 6:33pm Thursday, August 12, 2010

Built with the idea of helping to change the fortunes of Benton Harbor, Harbor Shores has already garnered a national reputation.

Thanks to getting Jack Nicklaus to design the course, southwest Michigan is set to reap the benefits of that decision in the next couple of years.

The Professional Golf Association has already tabbed Harbor Shores for a pair of major tournaments.

The new Nicklaus Signature course will host the 2012 and 2014 PGA Sr. Championships.

When those events come to Benton Harbor, the expectations are that more than 100,000 will invade the facilty over the four days of competition.

Those people will need places to sleep, and I can tell you right now that Benton Harbor-St. Joseph does not have that many rooms available.

True some new hotels are in the offing, but let’s face it, there will still be a shortage in the immediate area leaving places like Niles and Dowagiac in a position to capitalize.

Our communities should begin looking into how they can draw those golf fans to our hotels and restaurants.

While the PGA has not pinpointed dates for either tournament, that doesn’t mean the city officials can start making some phone calls and figure out how to promote our lodging and dining establishments.

Harbor Shores got a great introduction on what it is going to take to run a first class tournament on Tuesday with the Champions for Change Golf Challenge.

The 3,500 tickets were sold out in a matter of just a couple of weeks and more than 100 members of the media decended on the course to cover the four golf legends playing together for the very first time.

But truth be told, there were probably twice that many people there. Some put the crowd estimate at something close to 5,000.

All-in-all, the day went pretty well. It was organized and the three events that made up the day started pretty close to their scheduled times.

One can never tell what will happen at an event like this because the participants get going off in one direction and totally throw the whole schedule out of whack.

That didn’t happen and despite the hot and humid conditions that they played under, the timing of the actual golf went pretty much according to plan.

I enjoyed getting to be involved in the Champions for Change Golf Challenge and I am looking forward to covering the PGA Sr. Championship two years from now.

We are very fortunate to have such a great facility as Harbor Shores and we should embrace it as part of the southwest Michigan community.

The impact of this course is not going to be felt just by Benton Harbor-St. Joseph but by all of our communities and that’s a good thing for everyone involved.

Scott Novak is sports editor of Leader Publications. He can be reached at scott.novak@leaderpub.com

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