The world’s largest professional golf event is coming to Bluffton.
The 52nd annual PGA Professional Championship is scheduled for April 28-May 1, 2019, at Belfair, home of the renowned Tom Fazio-designed West and East courses.
Belfair planted signs on its property bordering U.S. 278 on March 31 to promote and remind passersby of the prestigious event.
The 312-player event, which is open to golf club professionals and teachers who are members of the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) of America, was last played in the Palmetto State in 2014 in Myrtle Beach.
Belfair has hosted its fair share of notable golf events since the West course opened in 1996.
Both Belfair courses were the site this spring of the local qualifying tournament for the U.S. Open that ended June 17 in New York. It hosted the 2013 South Carolina Open and the Players Amateur from 2000 to 2011 that saw the likes of future pros Rickie Fowler, Bill Haas and Savannah native Brian Harmon.
“The PGA of America is excited to take the PGA Professional Championship to Belfair, which is an outstanding location to showcase our finest playing PGA professionals,” said PGA President Paul Levy. “Belfair features the elements we look for in this national championship: challenging courses, inviting facilities and a staff that embraces an exceptional field.”
The championship field is composed of players who advance from the 41 PGA section championships held nationwide, along with past champions. The low 20 scorers at Belfair will earn a berth in the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black in New York.
“Belfair is truly a unique property and certainly all of us look forward to hosting the 2019 PGA Professional Champion-ship,” said Ken Kosak, general manager and chief operating officer at Belfair. “Playing host is an amazing honor for us as a club and community…. We have a number of PGA professionals (seven retired) who have made Belfair their home, and we are most proud of that.”
“We are excited about the opportunity to have Belfair exposed on a national stage,” said Belfair PGA Director of Golf James Swift. “It is particularly gratifying to have our Association’s finest players playing on our courses.”
The host West course, a traditional parklands design with subtle elevation changes, captures the flowing Lowcountry landscape with its native grass, lush lagoons, plentiful live oaks and stately pine trees. It stretches 7,111 yards from the championship tees.
All four rounds on the par-72 course will be broadcast on the Golf Channel next year.
The West Course was ranked in the Top 100 Private Residential Golf Courses in the Country for 2018 by Golf Week Magazine.
“It’s not only visually pleasing, but keeps you engaged as a player with a great balance of hole design, length and shot value,” Kosak said.
The East Course, reminiscent of Scottish links courses, opened in 1999 and showcases deep-water views, open windswept fairways, and freshwater lakes and lagoons. The par-71 layout measures 6,900 yards from the championship tees.
The half-mile-long “Avenue of the Oaks” entrance welcomes community residents and guests to the private enclave along the marshes of the Colleton River. The 1,100-acre pristine environment is dotted with 738 homes and home sites.
The plantation, founded in 1994 on land previously operated as a cattle ranch and a turkey farm, boasts a robust golf program with 300 members each in the men’s and women’s associations, as well as 40 non-property memberships. They enjoy about 80 weekly and bi-weekly golfing events throughout the year, a grand clubhouse and a 29-acre, state-of-the-art golf practice facility.
The hundreds of professionals and their families who will be descending on Bluffton next spring will experience “true Lowcountry hospitality,” Kosak said.
“We have amazing restaurants, beautiful beaches and tons of sights to see,” he said. “For Belfair to be televised on a national stage, it is an amazing opportunity to further grow our membership and market to those looking to make the Bluffton area their new home.”
Dean Rowland is a veteran senior editor and freelance writer.