SentryWorld was once the crown jewel. For Wisconsin Golf Courses, it was the state’s first destination golf property and gained national recognition after its completion in 1982.
What do you want to know
- The 43rd US Senior Open Championship will be held at SentryWorld Golf Course at Stevens Point from June 29 to July 2, 2023
- The 2023 US Senior Open will be the 17th USGA Championship held in Wisconsin and the second time the Senior Open has been played here.
- Officials expect to attract 75,000 fans with an expected economic impact of over $20 million
- Early-bird ticket packages are on sale here and will be available until August 7, after which ticket prices will increase to regular admission prices
But over time, other high-quality courses were built – Blackwolf Run, Whistling Straits and Erin Hills – and major United States Golf Association and PGA of America championships followed.
While SentryWorld remained one of the top-ranked public courses in the United States, the only thing missing from its resume was its moment in the sun.
Next year, that will change when the US Senior Open takes place at Stevens Point and the newly renovated course from June 29 to July 2.
And everyone in town is…
“The excitement doesn’t necessarily do it justice,” said SentryWorld CEO Mike James. “And it’s not just SentryWorld. I mean, everyone I talk to in the community is fair, that’s what they think, and that’s what they talk about. Everybody’s just excited for it.”
The road to securing this championship began after the course underwent a major renovation in 2013.
“We liked what the USGA was doing, so we actively pursued them,” James said.
They went through the USGA application process, a site visit followed, and the course received two thumbs up. This led to the 2019 USGA Women’s Junior Championship, which was a resounding success.
“Shortly after that it was, ‘What can we do next?'” James said. “They wanted to do something next, and so did we.”
Hello US Senior Open.
But the golf course was not where they wanted it to be. So before reopening this season, SentryWorld brought back original architects Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Bruce Charlton and, along with the USGA, spent 18 months doing renovations.
Landing zones have been reduced by almost half, to around 25 yards, past the capacity of a senior player. Bunkers have been added and moved. Three greens have been modified and a SubAir system has been placed under each green. When completed, SentryWorld was a championship-level 7,300-yard major golf course.
“And what was fascinating is that the USGA, they understand how the player thinks, they understand how these players are going to try to attack a golf course,” James said. “And so it was very helpful and a very collaborative effort that we went through, and we went hole by hole.”
The biggest challenge was making it playable for Joe Average Golfer after that championship got packed up and gone.
“I’m so happy with how it ended,” James said. “We didn’t build a golf course in just one week. We have created a golf course that is going to challenge the best players in the world, but we are also going to be able to lower the height of the cups and so on so that the everyday player can go there and play and enjoy it on any what a day off.”
As for the fan experience, Championship Director Steve Marino is sure they will be delighted.
“If people have been to any type of major sporting event, not just golf tournaments, they will often have to park miles away and commute,” he said. “We will have shuttles that will leave from each of our car parks. However, all of our courses are within a mile and a half of the golf course and they are all half a mile from the freeway (I-39). So I think that the ease of access and accessibility to this site and the parking areas will be a very big advantage and a positive asset for everyone.
Marino said they also plan for Wisconsin-centric touches.
“Right now, we’re more or less looking at sort of a food and beverage area,” he said. “It will kind of encompass what the best Wisconsin has to offer on the food and beverage side. So whether it’s cheese curds, fish fries and old fashions, things like that.
As for the USGA, their experience has been that if they bring one of their major championships to Wisconsin, fans will turn up in droves. Already, he said Stevens Point lives up to that billing.
“Well, I just learned (on Wednesday) that about 1,800 of their 2,000 volunteers have already made commitments,” said Brian DePasquale, senior director of championship communications for the USGA. “So that tells you something there. Here we are, a year from now, and they are well on their way to recruiting enough volunteers to work at the championship. So it seems that the community is interested.”
Adding to that interest will be two of the PGA Tour Champions’ top stars, Wisconsin natives Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly, both with multiple major titles on this tour, who should be on the court.
“We’re lucky,” James said, “to have these two players representing our state and how they represent our state in the game of golf. And you can imagine how excited Wisconsin golf fans would be to see them. do well that week.
And as for the golf course, its moment in the sun has arrived.
“To host a major championship, in this case the US Senior Open, is an honor for any golf course,” James said. “And it really shows that you are worthy of hosting and challenging the best players in the world. When you look at some of the other golf courses that have hosted this championship including Saucon Valley this year, Winged Foot, Riviera, Olympia Fields , Congressional, Pinehurst No. 2, Oakland Hills, Hazletine National then Whistling Straits It’s a pretty big list and we are proud to be part of this list.
Story idea? You can reach Mike Woods at 920-246-6321 or at: [email protected]