Big golf tournament brings big money to Michiana - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Big golf tournament brings big money to Michiana

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The Symetra Tour hosts over 100 pro-golfers from all over the world and not only are the ladies bringing their talents to the South Bend this weekend, they and their fans are also bringing in their checkbooks.

"We figured it was about $500,000 impact on the local community," said Tim Firestone, General Manager of Blackthorn Golf Club. "When you factor in restaurants, hotels, travel and other things."

This weekend will be the second time Blackthorn Golf Club has hosted the Four Winds Invitational. After an impressive showing last year, tour organizers said it was an easy choice to come back to Michiana.

"You know the golf course is amazing," said Sheryl Fish, Symetra Tour Manager.  "Blackthorn is a top notch golf course out here. The players love it for it's challenges."

There are some big expectations for Blackthorn this year after a great 2012. It is not just the golfers Blackthorn has to impress thousands of sponsorship dollars hang in the balance. The course manager says so far, so good on that front.

"The feedback is great," said Firestone. "We were voted the best stop on the tour last year. Hopefully this event is here for years to come."

It probably will not take much for South Bend to be a regular stop on the year round tour though. The city enjoys the financial benefits of hosting the invitational about as much as the players love being here.

"It's one of our favorite tournaments each year," said Stefanie Kenoyer, Symetra Tour Golfer. "The event itself, the casino puts on an awesome event, it's first class in every way."

The $150,000 purse at the Four Winds Invitational is the highest anywhere on the tour. Tournament officials say that helps bring the best golfers the tour offers to South Bend.

The tournament is also raising money for Memorial Children's Hospital this weekend. Officials from Memorial say all the money raised will be used to buy an incubator for their helicopter so they can get babies down to Indianapolis quicker if they need to.

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