There is good news and some even better news about the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by Synnex for the 2021 event.
The tournament was cancelled last June as the PGA Tour and Korn-Ferry Tour shut down all events in the early spring due to the pandemic.
The 2021 tournament is set for June 10-13th at Thornblade Club and Cliff’s Valley.
The plans for allowing the tournament to be open to spectators have been approved by the South Carolina Department of Commerce and meet state and DHEC guidelines.
“We have our dates and we are looking forward to getting back on the course this year,” said Mike McGovern the BMW Tournament Director. “We are also very glad that our plans have been approved and we will have fans on the course,” he said.
Instead of waiting to see what conditions will be like in Greenville in the new year, McGovern and his staff put together an extensive plan to cover a wide range of conditions, always keeping safety as their first priority.
“We’ve established guidelines for sanitation and safety for the tournament that the Department of Commerce told us exceed what they view as needed to operate a safe event,” he said.
The PGA Tour’s safety requirements are even more stringent and the local tournament is well on its way to meeting those requirements as well.
Spectators will notice some differences. There will be a limit on crowd size and fans will be reminded to observe social distancing in areas that usually draw a crowd around tees and greens.
Masks will be required for rides on the shuttle busses and there will be temperature checks at the course.
“Once fans get on the course they will not need to wear a mask, but they may want to put them on in crowded areas,” he said.
And the spectators will see the trademark feature of the Tour’s stop in Greenville, celebrities.
“We already have 16 commitments for the upcoming tournament. (Baseball star) Roger Clemens will be here. Many of the celebrities are looking forward to getting out and doing something because they have been locked down like all of us,” said McGovern.
Fans will get to follow the celebrities, but they may not be able to get as close to the stars as in the past.
“With safety in mind we have built in some things so fans can feel like they have had the same kind of experience with the celebrities as they had in the past,” said McGovern.
Having a picture taken with a star has always been one of the fans favorite “gets”. Instead of just a few lucky spectators snapping a shot this year, many fans will have the opportunity to be in a virtual picture with a celebrity.
McGovern has hired a service that will blend a fans picture with that of a celebrity virtually and email it to the fan.
“We are going to have three stations around the course for the fans to take advantage of this at no charge. We also are going to have the celebrities sign autographs each day and fans can enter a drawing at the course to win one,” he said.
The drawing for autographs solves two problems. It keeps celebrities and their fans a safe distance from each other.
Second, it eliminates the pushy professional autograph seekers who sell the celebrity scribbles online.
The tournament will have skyboxes, but the number of guests in each box will be cut back and a little more distance will be placed between the structures.
The tournament field will include 160 Korn-Ferry Tour pros and 160 amateur partners. As in the past McGovern will have a number of sponsor exemptions for golfers with a local connection.
“It is really important to me and to the tournament that we have the opportunity to invite some local players to be in the tournament. I pay close attention to what the professionals from around here are doing to get the deserving ones into the field,” McGovern said.
That is all good news, but the even better news for the six local charities that will benefit from the proceeds of the event is that the tournament is just about a sellout.
“We can’t be more thankful to our sponsors and players. Almost 85% of our sponsors and players rolled over their sponsorship to this year so we are in great shape for the tournament,” said McGovern.
Last year without an on course event the BMW tournament still produced over $100,000 for local charities during a “Week of Giving” which included an online auction and direct contributions.
” We have a waiting list for amateur playing spots, but if someone is interested they should contact us because we sometimes have cancellations and spots open,” he said.
The BMW Celebrity Pro-Am presented by Synnex will be the first Korn-Ferry Tour event to be broadcast in 2021 by the Golf Channel. The TV coverage from the tournament has showcased the Upstate as well as the golf.
McGovern is watching closely to see if the promising news about a vaccine could change some of the ways the tournament staff is preparing for June.
“We know some things may change between now and the tournament. We are ready to scale things to fit the situation in June. We have a good plan and we appreciate the support we have received and look forward to a great event in June,” said McGovern.
Information about tickets, volunteer opportunities and the event’s schedule is available at https://www.bmwgroup-werke.com/spartanburg/en/charity-golf.html/