This is my second opportunity on the bag.
I'm thrilled just to be a part of this great tournament that's returning to our community for its second year. I'll join hundreds of other volunteers working to make this a great event. What an opportunity to showcase our area and a great golf course in Blackthorn Golf Club.
Last year's Four Winds Invitational was a big hit. Players voted the South Bend stop the "Best Stop" on the tour in 2012.
Some 144 golfers from 30 countries will descend on our area for the weekend tournament. Others will follow, providing a nice summer boost to local hotels, restaurants and other area attractions.
The Symetra Tour is the most-established women's developmental tour in the world, entering 33 years of structured competition in 2013. It is known as "the Road to the LPGA" and since 1999, it has been designated as the LPGA's official developmental tour.
The tour's 2013 schedule includes 15 tournaments in nine states, with the South Bend stop being the tour's only Indiana appearance. The tour will offer nearly $1.8 million in prize money in 2013, and more importantly opportunities for golfers to advance to the LPGA Tour.
Tournament participants are eager to return to South Bend. The South Bend stop is the largest purse in Symetra Tour history, with $150,000 of prize money to be distributed. Last year's tournament broke attendance records all three days of competition. Players also identify Blackthorn as one of the best courses they play all season.
The 2012 tournament also netted $53,000 for Memorial Children's Hospital and raised $10,000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities. The Memorial Children's Hospital will again benefit from the 2013 tournament.
Please join me in welcoming our weekend guests. Come out to the course and cheer on these great women golfers and make sure they know how happy we are to have them back in our community. Bring the whole family -- the Symetra Tour and other sponsors have made it very affordable for the whole family to enjoy.
The tournament runs this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Blackthorn on South Bend's northwest side. Tickets are $10 per day for adults, with kids younger than 15 and accompanied by a ticketed adult admitted free as part of the Symetra Tour's Kids in Free Offer. Tickets are available at Martin's Super Markets or at the Blackthorn Pro Shop. For more information, visit www.blackthorngolf.com.
Jeff Rea is president and CEO of the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.