ESCANABA - Although the official field will not be established until Tuesday, housing arrangements have been basically completed for next week's Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass.
The LPGA Futures tournament gets underway Monday with the arrival of players. Practice rounds are Monday through Thursday, with the 54-hole event starting Friday. Pro-Ams are planned Wednesday and Thursday, with 30 Futures players participating with area supporters each day.
"We have 106 players housed," said organizer Caron Salo of the YMCA of Delta County. There will be 150 players in the tournament.
Some residents are housing three players and many are hosting two players, Salo said. "Almost everyone (who requested) has been assigned a player. We really felt it was super the way the community has supported this."
Most of the players are being hosted in Escanaba, Gladstone and Bark River, with some in Powers and Carney. "They need to be 30 minutes from the course," said Salo.
"I think we're pretty set, but it wouldn't hurt to have a couple more hosts if they are available. I had eight more requests come in today (Wednesday) from players," she said.
Salo said a couple area motels have provided free rooms for players and are also providing backup lodging.
"The LPGA has some guidelines to follow," Salo said of the housing process, noting an adult female must be present and concerns are also noted about allergies regarding dogs and cats.
"Now that we've started placing golfers with hosts, they (hosts) are enthusiastic and excited," she said. "They can't wait for the golfers to come. They want to bend over backwards to help them and welcome them to our community."
Salo said players are housed in private homes in every community they visit, which helps them operate on a thin budget.
"They don't make a tremendous amount of money doing this," said Salo. "And many tournaments are not affiliated with a hotel setting (such as Island Resort & Casino). We are not doing anything different (than other sites)."
Salo is among those hosting players. "For me as a mom of young girls, I'm looking forward to have the girls stay with us. They will be role models. The golfers are all pleasant and thankful.
"I've sent them emails and they said thank you, thank you, thank you," she said. "They couldn't thank me enough. It makes me feel good to be their first experience with Delta County."
Lori Shea, Debbie Peterson, Pam Caron, Amy Johnson and Paul Polfus join Salo on the housing committee.
Salo said it has also been easy working with LPGA officials in this first-time venture.
Caddies for the players must find their own lodging, although Salo said one player has her brother on the bag and lodging for both of them was found.
The YMCA has been designated as the charity recipient for any proceeds. "It will go to the strong kids campaign to continue our mission in the community," she said.
Three-day ticket passes are available for $10 and are available at the Island Resort & Casino and through 87 regional non-profit organizations who keep all ticket sales for their projects. Call 877-ISL-SHOW for tickets, or visit www.sweetgrassgolfclub.com/championship.
Ages 15-and-under are free when accompanied by an adult. All ticketholders are automatically eligible to win more than $2,000 in prizes upon entering the championship gate, with daily drawings at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Prize recipients must be present.
Parking is free at the casino and within walking distance to the championship gate. The course is also easy to walk. Specators are not allowed to bring cell phones, pagers or cameras onto the course but portable chairs are allowed.
Players are also available for autographs, after they have completed their rounds.
Pairing sheets and course maps will be available at the gate, which opens one hour prior to the first tee time, 7:45 a.m., with players going off the first and 10th tees the first two days. Nearly 300 volunteers wearing blue shirts will be available throughout the course.
Eight spectator bleacher sites are situated around the course and fans can walk outside the ropes throughout the course. A prime viewing area may be near the second, seventh, 11th greens and the eighth and 12th tees. That also affords a grand view of the island 15th green and tee.
Beverage carts and concession stands will be found throughout the course.