The MidAmerican Energy “Green Canyon” is making its Principal Charity Classic debut this week at Wakonda Club.
I recommend that fans who come to the course looking for a hot spot to watch some great golf make the short walk from the public entrance on Park Avenue to the Green Canyon, which starts by the green at the par-4 16th and circles the par-3 17th. Behind the 17th green, fans will find a wrap-around LED board providing a ton of information.
Food, drink and merchandise are all in close proximity. I promise, this will be a festive place to be. You’ll be able to watch play on the 16th and 17th, as well as the tee shots on 18. And never have to leave your seat.
A second prime spot is the Kum & Go Oasis, featuring the Fuzzy’s Vodka Lounge, to the right of the 13th green. Another short walk from the main entrance, fans will have a stellar vantage point to watch action on the 13th green, the par-3 14th and the green at No. 5. Another happening place. You won’t be disappointed.
Those who come and enjoy the surroundings will see plenty of recognizable names on the golf course. And here’s a random thought: It would be a Principal Charity Classic dream pairing, really, Mark Calcavecchia and John Daly.
Both their names are on the Claret Jug, one of the most iconic trophies in golf, for winning the British Open. Daly also has a PGA Championship to his name. But something very important in Iowa brings them together. Pork in king in Iowa. High on the hog has double meaning in this state.
Calcavecchia won last year’s Principal Charity Classic title while wearing bacon-inspired slacks and a bacon belt. He promises to wear them again when the official competition starts on Friday. The folks at the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival couldn’t be happier. Daly? He’s high on the Hogs. As in the Arkansas Razorbacks, his college team of choice. Why not put the two of them together?
Calcavecchia and Daly are two of the headliners that fans will want to check out this week. Calcavecchia will be trying to join Jay Haas as the only players to win the Principal title back-to-back.
Other former champions in the field are two-time champion Bob Gilder, Russ Cochran and Tom Pernice, Jr.
Seven players who have been to the winner’s circle this season will also be here. Woody Austin won the Tucson Conquistadores Classic and the Mitsubishi Classic titles, and teamed up with Michael Allen to win the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.
Jesper Parnevik, who won the Insperity Invitational, will be here. So will Miguel Ángel Jiménez, who won the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic; Duffy Waldorf, who won the Mitsubishi Electric Championship; and Esteban Toledo, who won the Allianz Championship. And of course, Rocco Mediate, fresh off his 2016 Senior PGA Championship over the weekend.
For those who love the history of the game, there are former major champions Calcavecchia, Daly, Mark Brooks, Todd Hamilton, Tom Lehman, Sandy Lyle, Scott Simpson, Jeff Sluman, Bob Tway and Fuzzy Zoeller.
You want guys who have won majors while playing on the PGA TOUR Champions? We’ve got Jeff Maggert, Kenny Perry, Roger Chapman, Olin Browne, Fred Funk, Brad Bryant, Mark Wiebe, Loren Roberts, Cochran, Lehman, Mediate, Allen, Haas, Zoeller, David Frost, Mike Reid and Bobby Wadkins.
For the local angle there’s Jerry Smith from Oskaloosa, who won the Encompass Championship in 2015.
And when it comes to champions, let’s not forget title sponsor Principal. Principal is celebrating its 10th year as title sponsor. This annual PGA TOUR Champions stop took a big step forward when the global company, located in downtown Des Moines, stepped up to the first tee in 2007.
Principal’s mantra, since that first press conference in the summer of 2006 announcing its title sponsorship, has been this: If the community supports this event, we’ll do our part.
It’s been a classic win-win relationship ever since. The Des Moines business community has followed Principal’s lead. Using golf as an avenue, Greater Des Moines has responded with more than $7.7 million in charity dollars. The tournament’s “Fore Our Kids” charities, as well as Birdies for Charity program participants, have used the money to enrich lives and plant the seeds to grow a better community in the future.
And if what I’m hearing is right, the record $1.4 million generated from the 2015 event will be broken this year.
By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter