A native of Ponte Vedra, Fla., Duke Butler IV is in the Hotel Fitness Championship tournament director. He heads the day-to-day operations of the championship for the Western Golf Association, which is conducting the event. Butler played college golf at the University of Florida and is a former Jacksonville Amateur champion. With the buildup to this year’s Hotel Fitness Championship growing, Duke took some time to answer a few questions for those excited and looking forward to this great golf event!
1. The 2013 Hotel Fitness Championship was a huge success in Fort Wayne. What can fans expect in year two?
Fans can expect a more enhanced event in year two of the Hotel Fitness Championship. In year one, we were focused on educating the community about what the event would entail—including some of the best golfers in the world from the Web.com Tour and the PGA TOUR coming together to compete for a $1 million purse and PGA TOUR eligibility for the upcoming season. When Trevor Immelman, the 2008 Masters champion, made an 18-foot putt to win on the last hole of the tournament, we couldn’t have been more thrilled. We saw some great crowds throughout the week with close to 27,000 people attending the event, and we expect that to increase this year. We hope to have attendance of 35,000–40,000 people. We also have to thank our significant support force as we had close to 600 volunteers us last year. Without them, we couldn’t put on an event of this magnitude.
In addition, in year two, we’ve really focused on the spectator experience and growing our corporate support so we can raise more money for our charity, the Evans Scholars Foundation and the Mad Anthonys Children’s Hope House. A few of the enhancements to the spectator experience include:
- No service fees on ticket purchases, making tickets more affordable. (Parking is still free!)
- A larger expo area with a variety of exhibitors, located near the center of the golf course.
- Our Upgraded Pavilions are now the Main Street Lounge pavilions and will showcase a more dynamic and exciting atmosphere with giveaways, promotions, unique food and specialty drinks. These venues will be the place to be for the 21 and over crowd, but you must have a Main Street Lounge upgraded ticket!
We are also planning to announce additional special events the week of the tournament, so visit HotelFitnessChampionship.com frequently these next few months to see what’s new!
2. Why is Sycamore Hills Golf Club a great golf course to host a professional golf tournament?
Sycamore Hills was designed to be a championship caliber golf course when it was built in 1989 by the Kelley family. The renovation that started this past fall after the inaugural Hotel Fitness Championship is only enhancing the quality of the course. The golfers raved about the layout and playability of the course in 2013, and I firmly believe that will only increase this year with the updated bunkers, green complexes on a few holes and new 18th hole that should promise another nail biting finish.
3. Is the Hotel Fitness Championship a family friendly event? If so, why?
Absolutely! Coming out to the tournament is a great way to spend time with your family and see some of the best golfers in the world compete. Plus, kids 16 and under get in free with a ticketed adult. We understand that it can be challenging to make it out during the week, but after the second round of the tournament on Friday, there will be a cut to the low 65 players and ties that will play on Saturday and Sunday. We had close to 12,000 spectators during weekend play last year and some great weather as well. We have our fingers crossed that increases this year!
4. You’ve lived here for two years now. What are YOUR favorite things about Fort Wayne?
First and foremost, the people of Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana have been incredibly gracious and welcomed me with open arms. When I first moved here from Florida, they helped me get through the tough winter as it was a new world to me. I have made some great friends and business acquaintances. Besides playing golf, I love going to TinCaps games and frequenting many of the great restaurants around town.
5. Tickets are now on sale for the 2014 Hotel Fitness Championship. Where can fans purchase their tickets?
Fans can purchase tickets for this year’s event at HotelFitnessChampionship.com or the two Bobick’s Golf locations prior to the tournament. Tickets will also be available at the tournament gate the week of the event, and parking is free for all spectators. Our tickets start at just $10 for the practice rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday, and daily tickets to the championship rounds on Thursday-Sunday start at $25. Our weekly badge price is $65, but we also have some upgraded ticket options that will provide access to the two Main Street Lounge pavilions on holes 9 and 16.
For more information on the 2014 Hotel Fitness Championship, check out Visit Fort Wayne!