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PGA Tour Champions event will boost Conejo Valley economy

By   /   Friday, September 21st, 2018  /   Comments Off on PGA Tour Champions event will boost Conejo Valley economy

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A crowd watches golfers compete in the 2017 PGA Tour Champions event at Sherwood Country Club.

 

A PGA Tour Champions event returns to Thousand Oaks in October under its new moniker, the Invesco QQQ Championship, hoping to engage new audiences, drive philanthropy and encourage visitors to explore the Conejo Valley.

To be held at the Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks on Oct. 25-28, the Invesco QQQ Championship is the second event in the Charles Schwab Cup playoffs, gathering 54 of the top senior golfers to compete for 36 spots in the final tournament.

As it relaunches under the new name, PGA Tour Champions has joined forces with the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce to promote local businesses and attractions and added new charitable offerings through its philanthropic partner, the Sherwood Cares Foundation.

The tour is a chance to showcase the club to a wider audience, said George Carney, president of the Sherwood Cares Foundation.

While the rebrand doesn’t change much operationally beyond the signage, it also gives the tour new opportunities to engage sponsors, businesses and attendees with its charitable mission, said Phil Bough, executive director of the tournament.

Players, caddies, rules officials, TV crews and other support staff also book around 1,700 rooms in the region during the event, driving direct spending for local vendors, Bough said. The tour also puts a spotlight on the region with national and international media, including a three-day broadcast on the Golf Channel and a one-hour highlight reel that goes out to dozens of countries.

“Not only are we bringing value to the local community, we’re bringing national and international value to the club,” he said.

Started by the club’s members in 2012, the foundation has awarded more than $715,000 to 32 regional charities with a focus on programs that support families and children. The event coincides with the foundation’s grant cycle, and $200,000 in awards will be handed out during the tournament week.

This year, attendees have a new chance to explore the course with the addition of the Dole Family Fun 5K Run and Walk. Registration fees for the run go to Food Share of Ventura County, a longtime partner of the Invesco QQQ event, and participants receive two free tickets to the tournament.

Military personnel have traditionally gotten in free, but this year the tour has partnered with the county, port and Naval Base Ventura County to drive attendance and plans to offer them new experiences, like a VIP clinic with players. It also extended the invitation to first responders.

Kids under 18 get in free, and the tour has partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters to give its volunteers a chance to attend, Carney said.

Volunteers make up a large part of the event and charities can participate in skills challenges that win them prizes and tee times, Bough said.

“We need about 750 local people to volunteer their time to help us,” he said. “All golf tournaments rely heavily on volunteers, and we’re no different.”

Also new this year, Fleetwood Mac cover band Twisted Gypsy will hold a concert for ticketholders after play concludes Oct. 27.

Bough said the event is hoping the addition of new experiences and connections with local charities will give it a unique voice and help it grow organically to new demographics.

While the Central Coast doesn’t have large sports stadiums that draw crowds of fans, Southern California is a “hotbed of professional golf,” he said.

Much like the annual Amgen Tour of California bicycle race, the sport tends to draw a more affluent crowd and enables the event to engage with tourism initiatives from San Luis Obispo to San Diego and Palm Springs.

“For events like ours, especially on the Champions tour, they have to be ingrained in the community,” he said. “We obviously need the business support … those are our big revenue drivers, but on the back end, that gives us more income that we can put back out for our charity initiatives. It has to be integrated top to bottom.”

• Contact Marissa Nall at [email protected]

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