Sanford International stays local for years to come

Tournament brings PGA to Sioux Falls through 2024, celebrates community impact

Miguel Angel Jimenez smiles on the 18th green of the Sanford International with a trophy and Rolex watch.

The Sanford International golf tournament, a PGA Tour Champions event, is secure at Minnehaha Country Club in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, through 2024.

That wasn’t all the good news about this Sanford Health signature event, to be held Sept. 13-19, but it was a good place to start.

“It helps set this up as a community event versus just a golf tournament,” said Andy North, the two-time U.S. Open winner who has served as Sanford International host since the tournament began. “We feel like Minnehaha Country Club is a great community partner.”

It was the summer of 2017 when Sanford announced at Minnehaha Country Club that it was going to begin hosting a PGA Tour Champions event in the fall of 2018.

Impact on community

The event has since crowned three champions — Steve Stricker (2018), Rocco Mediate (2019) and Miguel Angel Jiménez (2020). It also has raised more than $500,000 for local charities while leaving an indelible impact that extends well beyond the world of sports.

“Sanford’s commitment to the region is pretty obvious with the support they give so many different organizations and sports venues all over the footprint,” North said. “But it’s also important to do something at their home base here in Sioux Falls where they support the community every way they can.”

Economic impact for this weeklong series of events, some golf-related and some not, is estimated at more than $20 million for the Sioux Falls area.

“The members of the Minnehaha Country Club are also members of the community,” said MCC board president Erik Syverson. “We’re very excited to host this event and showcase our club and give something to the community that everyone can enjoy. We were excited to host it for the last three years and we’re excited to host it for the next four.”

It was uncertain late last fall whether the tournament would be held at Minnehaha beyond its original five-year contract. Since then, the partnership has moved forward thanks to a series of productive conversations that included Sanford officials, the MCC membership, and sports marketing and golf tournament management firm Pro Links.

“I think some people see it as just three days for a tournament,” Syverson said. “How can you not do that? But it’s been two-and-a-half months out of the golf season where there is a presence on the golf course. To Pro Links’ and Sanford’s credit, they did a great job of addressing concerns.”

Sanford Health and community support

The result is a continued PGA Tour Champions presence in Sioux Falls made stronger by an emphasis on mutual goals.

“Two things never changed: No. 1 was Sanford Health’s commitment to the tournament,” said Josh Brewer, the Sanford International tournament director. “No. 2 was the community’s support of the event. We had community leaders reaching out daily asking, ‘What can we do?’ Between that support and Minnehaha’s willingness to hear us out, we were able to come to an agreement. We can’t thank their membership enough for allowing us to host this event.”

Presenting sponsor Cambria, the Minnesota-based quartz countertop and surface company, represented another partnership tournament officials are celebrating. The firm sponsors Club Cambria on the golf course and also designs the distinctive trophy awarded to the champion.

Cambria senior vice president of sports partnerships Eric Curry emphasized a parallel purpose involving community and charity. Sanford and Cambria also share a business collaboration that preceded the existence of the golf tournament.

“Our product is completely non-porous so it’s very relevant in health care,” Curry said. “It doesn’t harbor any bacteria, so it’s very well suited for surgical centers and examination rooms. Sanford was already a good partner with us on that side, so the partnership was a natural for us.”

Plus, Curry added: “We love golf, and philanthropy is very important to us. And philanthropy is not the third in line. I’d say it’s 1-A, 1-B and 1-C why we’re involved in the tournament. We’re very excited it’s been extended here for two more years.”

The players themselves represent another grateful group, North said. The continued presence in Sioux Falls is also good news for them.

“The players really like not having to go to another site,” he said. “They love this place. They love the way this course plays, and they love that it’s in great shape every year.”

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Posted In Community, Golf, Sanford International, Sioux Falls