For the second straight year, Travis Pointe Country Club hosted the LPGA Volvik Championship during Memorial Day weekend, an event that brought many of the world’s top female golfers into the Saline and Ann Arbor areas.
Travis Pointe member Mark Schick said he thinks the event has been a huge success and is great for the Saline area.
“It’s been amazing,” Schick said. “I’ve seen a lot of young girls coming out to see the tournament. The Saline golf team has volunteered with their coach out here and there are more young kids here than there were last year."
Travis Pointe head golf professional Mike Areddy said his biggest goal for the event is to get the local young crowd excited about the game of golf.
“We’re hoping for the Ann Arbor and the Saline area that the tournament brings out a bunch of young junior players,” Areddy said. “If they get involved, then their parents will get involved so that’s what the hope is for the whole tournament.”
Michelle Wie, the big name golfer from Honolulu, drew a significant crowd for her round on Friday. When she teed off on the first hole, there was a genuine excitement in the air as many gathered around the first tee to see one of the world’s most famous golfers swing away.
Areddy said the event has grown from last year and he expects to see continued growth with every year the club host the event.
“We’re without a doubt getting more people than last year,” Areddy said. “Monday and Tuesday were definitely bigger than last year. Wednesday was busy but it started raining in the afternoon and that kind of squelched the crowds. Even yesterday being a lousy day weather-wise, we still had a number of people here.”
The event gives Travis Pointe a massive opportunity to promote their club, something they cannot do as much as they’d like, Areddy said.
“A private country club isn’t allowed to advertise so this is the way the club’s name gets out in the public,” Areddy said. “It brings a lot of people in that have never seen Travis Pointe and it’s stuff that normally we really couldn’t afford to do so it’s an awesome opportunity for us.”
John Olsen of the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce said the event brings in a significant amount of traffic to the area.
“It’s our hope they work their way down to our shops and restaurants,” Olsen said. “Typically we do see a bump in our restaurants and shops from that event so that’s always a positive.”
Wally McNeil, the owner of Mac's Acadian Seafood Shack in downtown Saline, said he saw people at his restaurant who were at the tournament but he didn’t see any huge spikes and believes more could be done to draw traffic from the event.
“I think the city as a whole and the chamber should do a better job of trying to convince people to turn left out of Travis Pointe instead of right,” McNeil said.
Areddy agreed more could be done in future years to get the city of Saline more involved in the event.
“I think next year what we have to do is get the Saline Chamber a little more involved so the whole community of Saline really knows this is going on,” Areddy said. “We’re starting to get a lot of people here and Friday, Saturday and Sunday we’re expecting even bigger crowds.”
Olsen said he thinks the chamber will try to do more to drive business to the Saline area shops and restaurants in the upcoming years of the tournament.
Areddy is hopeful that when the coordination between the two organizations does happen, it will have a significant effect on the Saline businesses.
“When Saline gets behind the tournament more, we’re hoping that it will fill their restaurants up and we’re hoping that people will stay in the Ann Arbor area when they’re here so it should bring in a lot more business for the area businesses,” he said.
Olsen said while it would be very ideal for them to have much of the business flow their way, because it is a national event it is harder for them to get their foot in the door.
“There is so much swirling around and they have their own publicity people and their own press people and their own community involvement people,” Olsen said. “It’s just a little harder for us to get involved with something like that.”
Olsen said it is ultimately up to the members of the chamber to decided what they do for an event like the Volvik Championship.
“We’re a member driven organization,” Olsen said. “However we can help our members, we’ll try and do everything we can.”
Shanshan Feng won the tournament with a score of -19, which was just one shot above the two second place finishers, Minjee Lee and Sung Hyun Park. For the full leaderboard, check out the LPGA’s website here.