Greenville lands Grey Goose Gateway Tour

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 28, 2004

The city of Greenville, an already growing area, will find its name in the national news once again, this time as a host city.

The Grey Goose Gateway Tour will pull into Greenville for an event at Cambrian Ridge Golf Course, a part of the Robert Trent Jones Trail.

&uot;I think it’s wonderful,&uot; said Dexter McClendon, Mayor of Greenville. &uot;I’ve already been on the phone with a golf pro from Argentina that my son played college golf with, hoping to get him to come play in this tournament and stay at our house.&uot;

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The Tour added 10 events in Alabama beginning Feb. 1 and ending April 2005.

&uot;The Grey Goose Gateway tour will bring people into our town,&uot; McLendon said. &uot;It’s advertising for our great golf course and our city. I am very excited about the pro tour coming here. These young men can really play and know how to play the game. We will open our arms and our doors any way we can to these kids.&uot;

The Grey Goose tour will make its stop at Cambrian Ridge Feb. 15-18, 2005 and will carry with it a purse of $112,000 for the winner of the 72-hole tournament.

&uot;The Grey Goose Tour is very similar to the Hooters Tour,&uot; said Bryan Reynolds, Director of Golf at Cambrian Ridge. &uot;This is a developmental tour. Players here are playing to better themselves. It’s a step under the Nationwide Tour in which players there can get their PGA Tour Card.&uot;

Not only will the tournament bring publicity to the city of Greenville, it will also provide an economic spark.

&uot;These kids have got to eat, buy gas and stay in hotels,&uot; McLendon said. &uot;The tournament will have direct impact on our economy in all areas, just like the Nationwide Tour did in Prattville. We will have the same benefit except on smaller scale. I would like one day to hold a Nationwide Tour here.&uot;

Chris Stutts, a former Arizona State All-American golfer, founded the Grey Goose Gateway Tour in August 2001.

&uot;The Grey Goose Gateway Tour gives these guys a chance to hone their skills and to develop as professional golfers,&uot; Reynolds said. &uot;We look forward to having them here in February, these 120 people are going to need hotels food and we are really excited about the boost this is going to bring to our economy&uot;

In 2002, the Gateway Tour paid more than $2.4 million to its players during its first year of operation. One year later that number increased by $1 million to $3.4 million.

&uot;This is the third largest national tour for men,&uot; said Dr. David Bronner, Chief Executive Officer for the Retirement Systems of Alabama. &uot;If you look at where it has been and where it is going it’s really amazing. If you put us in the category of where they have their other events, they have the Pacific Series and the Desert Series and now all of a sudden they are having their Robert Trent Jones Series, that’s what’s pretty neat.&uot;

Bronner said it is exciting to see the difference in Greenville now and 10 years ago.

&uot;Every different organization grades differently and on different levels,&uot; he said. &uot;But when you have the list of top 100 golf courses coming out this month and Greenville is located in that list, that’s pretty exciting. It illustrates the combination of the mayor being a strong advocate and getting a Robert Trent Jones course down there. Also, the tremendous addition to the restaurants and hotels located along the interstate and then that equated to the new high school. And all that equated to the people who 10 years ago didn’t think much would come of this town. Now they have to step back and look at it. Hat’s off to those people, who 10 years ago said this was a really good idea.&uot;

The tour spawns professionally and nationally known golfers, some of the alumni include Kevin Stadler, Jimmy Walker, Kris Cox and Boyd Summerhays. Rob Rayshell, currently on the European Tour got his start on the Grey Goose Gateway Tour.

&uot;This is extremely significant for The Trail and for the state of Alabama,&uot; said John Cannon, president of SunBelt Golf Corporation, managers of the Trail. &uot;The quality of our facilities and demanding nature of Trail course designs perfectly suit the needs of the Grey Goose/Gateway Tour players as they prepare for what they all hope will be successful careers on the PGA Tour. We look forward to bringing players from around the world to The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail to enjoy the competition throughout the State as well as all the great southern hospitality that Alabama has to offer.&uot;

The Series will kick off Feb. 1-4 at Magnolia Grove in Mobile.

The entry fee is currently set at $12,000 per entrant for the 10 tournaments plus the Tour Championship. Interested golfers should call Ryan Pray for further details at 480-703-9907.

The Grey Goose Gateway Tour also consists of the Pacific Series in San Diego with a championship purse of $ 901,000, the Desert Series in Phoenix/Scottsdale with a total purse of $ 2.3 million and the Beach Series in North and South Carolina with a purse of $1 million and the most recent addition, the Robert Trent Jones Series with a total purse of $ 1.1 million.

The 2005 Tour Championship will take place in December at a yet to be announced course in Scottsdale, Ariz.

For more information about the event at Cambrian Ridge call 334-382-9787.