PROFESSIONAL GOLF COMES TO BRAINERD
Cragun’s Resort To Host PGA TOUR Canada Event
By R.J. Smiley
For the first time a PGA TOUR Canada golf tournament will be contested outside of the country. Cragun’s Resort, near Brainerd, will make golf history the week of August 22nd when its Legacy Course will host the CRMC Championship presented by Gertens.
The CRMC Championship represents a rare opportunity for Minnesota golf fans to experience professional golf up-close. Minnesota has hosted every major golf championship, but the huge crowds make getting close to the players almost impossible. (Remember the Ryder Cup – fans were part of the HAPPENING but did not actually see much golf.) With smaller crowds and less restrictions individuals in the galley may feel the pressure and share the emotions. Maybe even exchange a few comments.
Jack Wawro, Director of Golf at Cragun’s and CRMC Tournament Director, says, “I have witnessed a PGA TOUR Canada tournament and fans will love the intimacy. There are no fairway ropes, fans may walk along with the players.”
Best of all admission is FREE! The CRMC Championship will be a NO FEE event. Positive Realty, a prominent area real estate company, will provide free tickets for the entire competition. The real estate broker wants people to get a feel for the community. They want parents and grandparents to bring their kids to another Brainerd area phenomenon.
PGA TOUR Canada, started in 2013, is one of three PGA TOUR’s International Tours. PGA TOUR Latinoamérica and PGA TOUR China complete the trio. These three tours are part of the path to the PGA TOUR. The top 10 golfers automatically advance to the Korn Ferry Tour in 2023. New in 2022, PGA TOUR Canada golfers compete for bonus money and the Fortinet Cup (like FedEx Cup). Wawro added: “Since its inception, PGA TOUR Canada has seen 11 of its alums win 13 PGA TOUR titles. These guys are GOOD!”
It is no accident that PGA TOUR Canada chose the Brainerd area for a championship. Cragun’s Resort, is one of four major resorts in the Brainerd area to include true championship golf to their entertainment amenities. Over the past 40 years, Dutch Cragun, son of the founder and resort industry visionary, has transformed the family fishing resort into a full-service resort. Today the resort has something for everyone, from complete spa treatments, fine dining, and championship golf. “I have spent most of my career working for two of these wonderful area resorts. There has never been a sense of competition, more a spirit of cooperation,” states Jack Wawro.
The CRMC Championship will allow the historic resort to showcase a totally new element. The Lehman Design Group is completing the $13-million golf course expansion project that began in 2021. The Lehman golf course and real estate development has been tastefully sculpted into the spectacular lake and north woods wilderness owned by the Cragun family for almost a century. No expense was spared as nine new Lehman holes were artfully blended with nine of the original 36 holes created by Trent Jones Jr. Lehman’s fingerprints are evident on the remodeled Jones holes. The result will be one of the finest golf clubs in Minnesota with clean wilderness air but without the urban distractions.
Tom Lehman, the Minnesota native has earned more golf merit badges than any golfer in Minnesota history. In addition to PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions victories, Lehman’s name is engraved on the Claret Jug, golf’s oldest prize, from his win at the 1993 Open Championship. Lehman is a former Ryder Cup player and Team captain. As a tribute to the man and golfer, Tom Lehman will serve as Honorary Chairman of the CRMC Championship. The personable Lehman will be onsite during tournament week greeting old friends and making new ones.
As the big day approaches Wawro wants to thank the companies that made this event possible. He first mentioned Gertens, the primary sponsor of the CRMC Championship. “We want to thank Gretens for the wonderful support. Sponsorship of the CRMC tournament is a great way to spotlight Gretens expansion into golf course maintenance.
Gertens is a full-service lawn and garden, landscaping and outdoor-living company that maintains a 2.5-acre, state-of-the-art greenhouse that helps maintain company founder Frank Gerten’s motto to “buy from the grower.”
Gino Pitera, Gertens’ owner, stated, “Gertens, is extremely excited to be a part of the PGA TOUR Canada’s first-ever event in the United States. Gertens partners with golf courses over the upper Midwest to keep their properties in pristine playing condition and we look forward to partnering with Cragun’s to create this championship event.”
“This is a historic moment for PGA TOUR Canada, taking this tour and our players outside of Canada for the first time,” said PGA TOUR Canada Executive Director Scott Pritchard. “In Gertens, we couldn’t have found a better partner, and as we make this move to Cragun’s Resort, we are so pleased that this will happen with Gertens support.”
Wawro mentioned that there are opportunities for residents and property owners to participate in the CRMC Championship: “We have openings for tournament volunteers, caddies, and player hosts. The cost to become a volunteer is small but the perks included in the package are huge. All volunteers receive a tournament logo shirt and cap, a dinner Saturday evening and a complementary round of golf of the Cragun’s Legacy Golf Course. Great benefits working a few fun filled shifts and making new friends.” For some golfers the idea of caddying for a professional golfer is a dream come true. “Caddies do not have to be a great player, the only requirement is to be able to carry a 40-pound golf bag 18 holes,” Wawro added. “Currently our biggest need is for player hosts, property owners who will host a player or two in their home or guest cottage. We have 156 golfers who will play in this Championship. I will almost guarantee that several of them will make their way to the PGA TOUR. Just imagine if you were the caddy or host for one of these future PGA stars?”
Cuyuna Regional Medical Center is a community-built facility that serves approximately 30,000 people in the Brained Lakes area. Net proceeds from the event will be used to further the mission of CRMC’s Charitable Fund: to care for everyone in the community from their first breath to their last regardless of their financial ability.
“CRMC is proud to support this tournament, which will have a significant economic impact on the Brainerd Lakes area and benefit the community as a whole,” said CRMC, CEO Amy Hart.
Added, Peggy Stebbins, Director of Marketing and Public Relations at CRMC, “The CRMC Championship is a wonderful opportunity to raise money for CRMC’s Charitable Fund, which supports the most-critical needs for health care in this region and assists area residents dealing with medical issues.”
For more information about the CRMC Championship presented by Gertens, including schedule of events, volunteering, and ways to get involved, visit: www.crmcchampionship.com