Golden Nugget The Country Club

The Lake Charles Championship will debut at The Country Club at Golden Nugget in Lake Charles, Louisiana in 2020. (Korn Ferry Tour)

Korn Ferry Tour logo

The new name may puzzle you. But you should know the golf tour.

By any term, however, it figures to be the biggest golf event in Southwest Louisiana history next spring when the Korn Ferry Tour of the PGA comes to the Lake Area at the Golden Nugget's Country Club course.

The tour, until recently called the Tour and before that the Nationwide, Nike and Hogan Tours, is the final stepping stone to making — or getting back to — the PGA Tour.

The Lake Charles Championship, as the local tournament will be named, will feature 156 players battling for a $108,000 first-place check in the total purse of $600,000.

This first will be played March 26-29 of 2020, although the golf events will last all week, including the pro-am.

Getting the tournament was a joint effort between the Golden Nugget and the Lake Charles/SW Louisiana Convention and Visitors' Bureau. The agreement runs for five years.

"The PGA Tour," Lake Charles mayor Nic Hunter mused. "I didn't know I would have that in my career as mayor. This was not easy. This was not something that just fell in our lap."

CVB president Kyle Edmiston said landing the tournament was three years in the making that "took some turns along the way."

"We actually started looking initially at getting a Champions Tour event," he said of the PGA tour for golfers over 50 years old. "We went down that road for a little while. And then the opportunity for the Korn Ferry event presented itself and we just thought it would be a little better fit right now for the area."

The Lake Charles stop will apparently be part of a Southern swing for the tour that will also include Savannah, Ga., Jackson, Miss., Lafayette and Arlington, Texas.

Lafayette's Chitimacha Louisiana Open is one of the oldest and most successful of the tour's tournaments, dating back to the third year of the tour in 1992.

It and the Lake Charles tournament will be played on back-to-back weekends.

But Korn Ferry Tour president Alex Baldwin, the only female president of a golf tour, said the proximity in time and distance to Lafayette did not hinder Lake Charles in getting a spot.

"We actually thought that was a plus," she said. "Our players will only be an hour away from the next stop."

It will make Louisiana one of only four states with multiple tournaments, joining Tennessee, Missouri and Illinois.

It's not just aspiring PGA Tour golfers who will be on hand.

The Lafayette tournament will typically feature 10-12 former PGA tournament winners in the field, all trying to regain their tour playing privileges.

The Nugget's Country Club course tips out at 7,007 yards at par 72.

But one of the obstacles, no doubt, was that it does not have its own driving range.

Baldwin said arrangements had been made with L'auberge's next-door Contraband Bayou Course to use its range for the week

The tournament, as many of them are, will be run by Alabama-based Bruno's Event Team, with Steve Nieman serving as tournament director.

"Great fun, great food and great golf," Nieman said. "This community has all of those things. So we hope to take those things and make the Lake Charles Championship a great event for the city."

The city will have to help.

Nieman said they will be looking for 250-300 volunteers to help the event and the pro-am is crucial to the tournament's success.

Baldwin said tour policy is not to reveal where the money for the purse comes from.

But typically a good chunk of it comes from the pro-am.

The Lafayette event, for instance, stages a pro-am for approximately 200 amateur players at $1,600 apiece.

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