|The American Family Insurance Championship Returns With Lofty Expectations|
|Steve Stricker watches NFL great Brett Favre putt during the celebrity foursome round at the 2016 American Family Insurance Championship.|
|AmFam Championship #18|
By Janet MastersWhat happens when you combine a field of PGA TOUR legends, two respected tournament hosts driven to create an incredible fan experience and a region that bear-hugs both golf and charity? The answer is simple: Success.
The American Family Insurance Championship, held last June at University Ridge Golf Course in Madison, Wisconsin, blew away expectations:
Spectators flocked to the PGA TOUR Champions tournament - 56,000 over three days, one of the highest attended-events on the tour.
More than 1,200 volunteers signed up to help, meeting fan and player needs as soon as they entered the grounds.
Players were amazed. They said the crowds and their energy reminded them of the days when they played on the regular tour, which for many of them wasn't that long ago.
Most importantly, the championship raised nearly $1.1 million for charity. That's more than double what tournament organizers had ambitiously projected.
The 2017 American Family Insurance Championship, sponsored by American Family Insurance and hosted by PGA TOUR winner Steve Stricker, returns this June 23-25 at University Ridge.
Proceeds from the championship are donated through the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation to the American Family Children's Hospital and other Wisconsin charities.
Stricker, a Madison resident and 12-time winner on the PGA TOUR, is excited for year two - and not only because he gets to play in the championship for the first time after turning 50. He's equally jazzed about other new twists designed to draw more fans and continue the tournament's evolution into a can't-miss experience.
"American Family Insurance and I are committed to make this a showcase championship and an annual destination for Midwest golf fans," says Stricker. "That's our dream and, with the avid support of fans, sponsors and community, it's a dream that's coming true."
The PGA TOUR Champions features the legends of golf: players over the age of 50 who have won major championships and PGA TOUR titles, played in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups, and achieved other accolades. The tour includes multiple inductees to the World Golf Hall of Fame, such as Fred Couples, Davis Love III, Hale Irwin, Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie, to name a few.
"The Champions Tour is a little more laid back than the regular tour, but the play is still outstanding and, at crunch time, the players still love to compete and still want to win as they have their whole careers," Stricker said.
So, what's in store for the 2017 American Family Insurance Championship?
For starters, fellow Madison resident Jerry Kelly will join Stricker as a first-time player at the American Family Insurance Championship. Kelly has won twice on the PGA TOUR, in addition to a playing appearance on the U.S. Presidents Cup Team.
Kirk Triplett will return as the tournament's defending champion, as will an elite field of other PGA TOUR Champions players. Tournament Director Nate Pokrass said player commitments will be announced in spring.
"Our goal is to have the best and most recognizable players on tour," said Pokrass. "The players I have talked to from last year's tournament are thrilled about coming back. They loved the atmosphere, and the warmth and appreciation they received from fans. We are using that feedback to attract additional premier players, and we expect that will pay off with an even stronger field."
At University Ridge, the home of the University of Wisconsin golf teams and ranked as one of the best campus golf courses in the country, fans will see additional seating and concession stands. Plans are to expand the stadium-like feel around the 17th hole, a challenging par-3 over water that drew raves from fans and players for its excitement.
A celebrity foursome will play on Saturday afternoon, June 24. The celebrities, still to be named, will follow the tournament leaders and play 9 holes in a light-hearted competition.
On Friday night, June 23, the championship will host a concert featuring multi-platinum and GRAMMY-award winning country artist Darius Rucker. Tickets for the concert at Breese Stevens Field in downtown Madison are available at www.amfamchampionship.com (click on the Tickets link).
All proceeds from the concert will be donated to the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation for distribution to American Family Children's Hospital and other charities impacting families and children in Wisconsin.
"There's certainly going to be a lot of activities, but it's all for a single, important purpose: raising money to help those in need," said Jack Salzwedel, American Family Insurance chief executive officer and co-founder of the tournament with Stricker. "American Family is humbled and proud to be part of this effort."
Other tournament week events include a youth skills challenge for local participants of the First Tee of South Central Wisconsin on Tuesday, June 20; Pro-Ams on Wednesday and Thursday, June 21-22; and more youth activities on Sunday, June 25. Additional tournament week activities are still under development and will be announced this spring.
Tickets for the American Family Insurance Championship are available online at www.amfamchampionship.com. You can follow also American Family Insurance Championship on Twitter: @amfamchamp; Facebook: American Family Insurance Championship; and Instagram: AmFamChampionship.
Quick Facts on the PGA TOUR Champions American Family Insurance Championship:
When: June 23-25, Friday through Sunday.
Where: University Ridge Golf Course, Madison, Wisconsin.
Format: 78 players compete in a three-round, 54-hole tournament.
Defending champion: Kirk Triplett
Ticket information: Tickets are the American Family Insurance Championship are available www.amfamchampionship.com, with special discounts for purchases now through June 1. Discounts include:
$5 off a $25 general admission ticket
$5 off $20 AARP Champions tickets (50 years +)
$10 off $50 Clubhouse tickets (Clubhouse tickets include special amenities)
Active duty, reserve and retired military personnel can again enjoy free daily admission and any child 15 and under gets free admission to the tournament with a paid adult admission.
Article Comment Submission Form