Golf: PGA Tour Canada coming to Brainerd Area
Cragun’s Legacy Courses is primed to host the inaugural CRMC Championship as a part of the Mackenzie Tour -- PGA Tour Canada Aug. 17-23.
The event will be the first Mackenzie Tour tournament to be played on United States soil and the second PGA-sanctioned event in the state of Minnesota for 2020.
“This is a historic day for us. We are thrilled at the opportunity to expose American golf fans to the level of play on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada,” Mackenzie Tour Vice President Scott Pritchard said. “Brainerd is a community that we feel is a perfect fit for one of our tournaments and will be for many years to come.”
Cragun’s Director of Golf Chuck Klecatsky will act as Tournament Director for the CRMC Championship. The players will play the Dutch Legacy course which has hosted the CRMC Brainerd Lakes Tour Showcase the past two years.
“We’re fortunate to host an event of this caliber at Cragun’s Golf Resort. The event should generate millions of dollars in economic activity to benefit the community,” Klecatsky said. “The course itself will be a formidable test for the players, who we know will be thrilled with the conditioning thanks to our hardworking agronomy team.”
The course won’t go through any major new construction for the CRMC Championship. However, some basic tree trimming and basic maintenance will happen to make sure the course is in the best shape for the Mackenzie Tour.
Klecatsky said there will be a Pro-Am Wednesday, Aug. 19, followed by four days of tournament golf giving the experience of a true PGA Event. Throughout the week there will be charitable events that will benefit the community.
The Mackenzie Tour is a series of tournaments played across Canada -- and now Minnesota -- with the top-10 money-winners at the end of the season earning Korn Ferry Tour status which is a step below the PGA Tour.
The full 2020 Mackenzie Tour schedule has yet to be announced, but the CRMC Championship will be the 10th event of the year out of 13 events total according to Pritchard.
“It’s two steps away from the big show,” Klecatsky said of the Mackenzie Tour. “They are definitely accomplished players and we will have 156 players and it's at the end of their season so they will just be a couple of steps away from graduating up to the next level. We are very excited to see how they handle the Dutch Legacy.”
Ron Sanders is credited for founding the CRMC Championship in the Brainerd lakes area in 2017 and helped get a PGA-sanctioned event to Cragun’s.
“When we started this in 2017 we had a five-year plan,” Sanders said. “I promised my time, getting a titled sponsorship, which we got with CRMC, and then developing a relationship with the PGA Tour up in Canada. And here we are instead of five years it only took three years.”
Sander’s passion for bringing the PGA Tour to Brainerd did not go unnoticed with Pritchard.
“Ron was super passionate about bringing an event to Brainerd,” Pritchard said.
When Sanders first reached out to the PGA the goal was a Korn Ferry Tour event, however, the Korn Ferry Tour did not have any schedule availability, and he was introduced to the Mackenzie Tour.
Sanders went to Winnipeg to recruit Mackenzie Tour players to play in the Brainerd Lakes Tour Showcase event last August. That’s where Pritchard met with Sanders to begin talks about bringing the Mackenzie Tour to Brainerd.
“We introduced him to the Mackenzie Tour and broached the idea of bringing a Mackenzie Tour event to Minnesota,” Pritchard said. “Which was in line with some of the thoughts we had in breaking into the U.S. and lo and behold we had an agreement in principle and were able to get CRMC on board. Things fell into place quite quickly which is a testament to Ron, Cragun’s and CRMC.”
In 1989, Sanders was the chairman of a committee that put together the first proposal to host what would become the 3M Championship. Now, the 3M Championship is a PGA Tour event and Sanders thinks the CRMC Championship will benefit both tournaments in Minnesota.
Since the Tour Showcase ended last year, Klecatsky and Sanders have been in contact with PGA Tour and CRMC to make this tournament happen. The agreement is a six-year deal.
“We are excited to bring the community together, to be able to pool together our resources in order to donate some money to charity and to also showcase some players of the Mackenzie Tour,” Klecatsky said. “We are looking forward to helping the community with the economic impact of these events.
“We are excited for people to come into town, rent hotel rooms, eat at the restaurants and enjoy the recreational aspects of Brainerd. The second component is the charity aspect and donating some money back to the community and helping the causes the tournament is going to support.”
The charity pieces are still in the works according to Klecatsky, but is an important piece about hosting a PGA-sanctioned event.
Pritchard visited Brainerd for the first time in October and left feeling confident the area and Cragun’s could put on a great event.
“I was super impressed with the resort itself and how long it has been around, the number of Canadiens that actually come there for the summer,” Pritchard said. “I was there in October, so I did not see it in all its glory, but it was still pretty stunning. When I got back to the office after the trip I got even more excited knowing that was going to be a perfect fit.”
When: August 17-23
Where: Cragun’s Legacy Courses
What: Mackenzie Tour -- PGA Tour Canada