Preparations for PGA’s Barbasol Golf Championship going smoothly

Cooperate chalets will be lined along the the final two holes of the Barbasol Championships set for July 16-20 at Champions at Keene Trace in Nicholasville. (Kentucky Today/Keith Taylor)

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. (KT) — Preparation for the Barbasol Championship is going smoothly.

The PGA Tour event, set for July 16-22 at Champions at Keene Trace, unveiled the first of several corporate hospitality suites Tuesday at the No. 18 green, located near the clubhouse.

The chalets will feature room enough for 40 patrons and feature breathtaking views of No. 9, 17th and 18th green. The most chalets offer a bar, signage, soft seating and the standard outdoor patio seating complete with television monitors. Other models will be of the base variety. The chalets were designed by the same company Keeneland employed during the Breeders’ Cup Championship.

“As it is with all professional golf tournaments, corporate hospitality is a key driver to the success of those events,” said Brooks Downing, executive director of the Barbasol Championships. “No less important here with this new event as well. When you look at a hospitality opportunity for your clients, guests, friends and family and others this is what we wanted to showcase early.”

Downing said most of the chalets will be “decked out” and will be a “tremendous way to experience professional golf” inside and outside the chalet.

“It’s the best of both worlds,” Downing said of the chalets and the views of the course. “A lot of people (will be) coming and going, out enjoying the course, walking the course, following a particular group, checking out other holes (on the course) but they have a base camp. What a nicer base camp to have in the middle of July on a hot summer night than an air-conditioned, 40-person suite? We’ve got incredible viewing sports.”

The event is the first PGA event to be held in Lexington since 1959 and will feature some well-known players such as Jim Furyk, Davis Love III, Angel Cabera, Hunter Mahan and several other major PGA Tour performers.

“We’re opposite the British Open, so we may lose our elite players, (but), you’ve got some of the very best golfers in the entire world all coming to Lexington in the middle of July. Football hasn’t started yet, basketball is over and we’re only talking about recruiting at that point. It’s the third major sporting event behind the (Kentucky) Derby and NASCAR.”

Browning said the event expects to attract between 80 to 100,000 people and bring in more than $20 million in revenues into the local economy.

“This is an event is not only going to be a great community event and great corporate event but just a great experience for our way of life in central Kentucky that we haven’t had and what is really a dry market for professional golf,” Browning said.

Past PGA events at Valhalla Golf Course in Louisville inspired Global Sports and the Barbasol Championships to give it a try in Nicholasville. The first three events were held at the Robert Jones at Grand National in Opelika, Alabama.

Downing is anxious for the first of four events and hopes to keep it in the Bluegrass past the current contract.

“We’ve got a big-time event now, we can call our own,” Downing said. “It’s our intent to keep it here 24 years. We secured it and there are already negotiations to lock it down for a longer period of time. We hope to knock everybody’s socks off in Year 1 and keep growing it year after year. It can be very impactful and can really be a community event that anchors the summer here in central Kentucky and all over the state. I’m looking forward to seeing what the results (will be).”

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