Once again, the Barbasol Championship brings world-class golf to the Bluegrass.

For Kentuckians, spring and summer have long been highlighted by Keeneland. Now, summer also has its own signature event with the Barbasol Championship. Re- cently, the PGA TOUR announced that Bar- basol would continue their title sponsorship of the tournament, which will be played at Keene Trace Golf Club’s Champions course, through 2023. This year, the tournament will be held during the week of July 15-21, and will host 132 of the best golfers in the world, 1,000 volunteers, and approximately 10,000 fans a day.

“There are only forty-two PGA tourna- ments worldwide, and Kentucky has one of them. That is a big deal for our entire state. We want people from Bowling Green and Louisville and Northern Kentucky to come experience and support this tournament,” says Bryan Pettigrew, the Tournamet Director and National Sales Director for Global Golf Management (GGM).

Formerly, Pettigrew served as Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sponsorship of the Breeders’ Cup. He says, “The two sports I grew up around were horseracing, with a grandfather who owned racehorses in Oklahoma, and golf. I would say I’m one of the luckiest guys in the world to have gotten to promote these two sports I love and am really passionate about.”

Another thing Pettigrew and his team are passionate about is promoting the state.

He says, “This is a great opportunity to show off Kentucky and our hospitality. These guys play some of the nicest golf courses in the world, but I think what makes our tour- nament different is the local hospitableness. When they show up at this tournament, our volunteers are going to be trained to answer questions and help them and treat them dif- ferently than they are at other tournaments. The same is true of our local businesses.”

To ensure this, GGM has been working hand in hand with both the Visit Lex and Visit Jessamine tourism bureaus, as well as the local hospitality industry. In order to ready establishments, Pettigrew says, “We’ll be taking a page out of the Super Bowl and other major events’ playbooks and hosting a restaurant and hotel training day at Keene- land in June where we’ll bring in managers and give them a Barbasol 101 course and en- courage them to decorate their restaurants and hotel lobbies with flags, golf balls, and golf tees to get people in the spirit.”

But, as much as the community will be giving to the tournament, the tournament will be giving back. One of the most important as- pects of the Barbasol Championship, as well as all PGA TOUR events, is their commitment to enriching the places they play through charitable contributions. “PGA tournaments raise one hundred ninety million dollars an- nually for charity. That is more than all the other four big sports combined. That is the business model in golf,” states Pettigrew.

To this purpose, the Bar- basol Championship adviso- ry board created Caddie127, a new umbrella charity. Cad- die127 takes its name from the golf term and the Bible verse, James 1:27, which ad- vises “to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from be- ing polluted by the world.” Pettigrew further explains, “Golfers need guidance, help, instruction, and some- one to show them the way. They never walk alone, and that’s the gist of ‘caddie.’ We believe women and children should never walk alone, and we intend to do something about it.”

This year, five philanthropic organiza- tions working for the betterment of women and children have been chosen as charitable partners who will receive substantial finan- cial contributions. They include All God’s Children, Kentucky Children’s Hospital, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Refuge for Wom- en, and the Woodhill Community Center.

There are only forty-two PGA tournaments worldwide and Kentucky has one of them. That is a big deal for our entire state.

In addition to growing Caddie127, the Barbasol Championship is committed to growing the sport of golf in Kentucky. Pettigrew states, “We’re trying to reach out to the different segments of golfers to be inclusive and grow the sport.”

To involve and inspire younger golfers, GGM is working in conjunc- tion with the Kentucky High School Golf Association and adding a Junior ProAm where high school players can come and play with the pros. This will occur on Monday, July 15. They are also partnering with Merrill Lynch to provide a Women’s Executive Forum, where women can hear peer panelists speak about their challenges and their struggles in business. It will be followed by the opportunity to either play in a ProAm or participate in a golf clinic. On Saturday the tournament will also host a Family Day, with an array of activities for children and a Fan Expo just outside the clubhouse.

Even for those who do not consider them- selves golf enthusiasts, the tournament promises to be a memorable experience. Drake’s and Grey Goose are sponsoring a large gathering tent where folks can enjoy food, beverages, and daily musical acts. In addition, the golf tournament organizers are adding an expansive outdoor patio over- looking the lake, to give spectators a place to gather with the perfect vantage point. “Even if you’re not a golf fan, you should come as a spectator and check it all out. There is going to be great food and entertainment. And, if you’re looking for exercise, you can walk the golf course,” says Pettigrew.

Members of the military, both active duty and retired, and three members of their families get in free, as do those 16 and under.

Those who want to be even closer to the action can volunteer. There are a range of opportunities and specialized training is pro- vided. Pettigrew states, “We’re going to train all of the volunteers using the Disney cus- tomer service method that the PGA tour has adopted. They also get a Barbasol shirt and cap and will be fed twice a day. We’re work- ing on making it fun and exciting for them.” Volunteers must be 18 years or older, or 16, if accompanied by a parent. To sign up, simply go to the Barbasol Championship website.

Pettigrew’s hope for this and future years is that the tournament becomes a new state- wide tradition. “We hope Kentuckians em- brace the Barbasol tournament as a signa- ture event, much like Keeneland. We hope it will be something they mark on their cal- endars, consider when they have family and friends come to visit, and that companies take advantage of when hosting clients.”

He adds, “We want to welcome people from around the world to our state to explore our cuisine, the bourbon trail, and our horse country, as well as golf. We want them to get to experience all the things that make Kentucky special.”

Posted on 2019-06-07 by Donna Ison | Photos by Woody Phillips