Archived Story

PGA takes bite of county budget

Published 11:34pm Thursday, June 7, 2012

ST. JOSEPH — It took more than 2,000 volunteers to welcome 8,000 to 12,000 spectators watching 156 golfers at the Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores.

Overtime took a $42,053 bite from his budget, Berrien County Sheriff L. Paul Bailey advised the Board of Commissioners Thursday.

Similar extra expenditures were absorbed by partners St. Joseph, Benton Harbor and Benton Township. Almost two dozens agencies collaborated on the event which ran from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and utilized shuttles and internal trollies for transit.

A community showcase shuttle went all the way to Silver Beach and through the Benton Harbor arts district.

Pretty pictures beamed to a live national audience on the Golf Channel and NBC over four days?
Priceless.

“I don’t know of another golf course in the country sitting on three municipalities,” Bailey said. “I give our community an A for showcasing us on the national news. The golf course looked beautiful. Some didn’t get a lot of business, but I talked to visitors from other states and countries who want to come back. It showed what had been done to develop that wasteland.

Think of the pollution that was cleaned up” from former factories.

Planning began in January 2011, including development of a response plan, not only for protesters, but trespassing during the ticketed event or sudden stormy weather rolling in off Lake Michigan. Play Saturday morning was delayed.

The PGA, with 72 previous tournaments to draw on, defines success by avoiding accidents and keeping traffic backups to a minimum because traffic and parking make the first impression that determines providing a positive experience.

The PGA was said to be pleased by the host performance.

As for the Occupy PGA protest, there was a march to Jean Klock Park May 23 and again May 26, with Saturday’s rally larger at 130 to 140 participants. They carried a mock coffin and tried to fly kites, but were peaceful and did not interrupt play. Golfers were probably unaware of their presence.

Bailey said most protesters were not local. They represented a range of issues, including an emergency manager taking over Benton Harbor government and public lands made part of the golf course.

“The majority of the cost was on Saturday, $16,949, and Sunday, $10,299,” the sheriff said.

“One department couldn’t do it all by itself. It would have been a budget-breaker,” Chief Deputy Mike Bradley said.

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