Golf's Top 70 Tee off September 6th in the BMW Championship at Aronimink Golf Club

Tiger, Dustin, Rory, Phil, Jason, and Bubba are all coming to town in just a few weeks.  But there’s been a buzz in the air for months now, as Delaware County prepares itself to welcome thousands of visitors to the BMW Championship, September 4th through 9th at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, PA.  Fans will be streaming into Aronimink, not only to see their favorite players, but also to get a first look at the Club’s newly restored course, which was a major restoration back to its original Donald Ross design. 

As the penultimate event of the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup Playoffs, the BMW Championship purse is a cool $9 million with $1.62 million to the winner and only the top 30 pros will qualify for a shot to hoist the Winner’s Trophy at East Lake in Atlanta.

Past performance is usually predictive, so this event is in very good hands, as Vince Pellegrino, Senior Vice President of Tournaments for the Western Golf Association has been the driving force behind the success of the BMW Championship for many years – and his passion for golf is as contagious today as it likely was when he began his journey as a caddie more than two decades ago. Rising through the ranks, he and his team have an amazing track record of success. He was kind enough to give us a preview of what to expect in September.

BL: “I read that in 2008, 2012, 2013 and 2014 the PGA TOUR named the BMW Championship its TOURNAMENT OF THE YEAR.  That’s no small feat.  What does it take to make this event the best of the best?”

Pellegrino began his relationship
with the Western Golf Association as a
caddie in the late 1990’s. He rose
through the organization, and under
his supervision the BMW Championship
was named "Tournament of the Year" four
times by the PGA.

VP: “You need a great course, with a history of hosting big events – and the fan experience needs to not only meet, but beat their expectations.  Our planning committee needs do its job; but maintaining our standard of success is a testament to the tireless efforts of the hosting clubs, the commitment of the event sponsors, and the warmth and participation of the host communities that support it.  BMW is an automotive industry leader, and our goal is to bring the same level of excellence to the event that bears their name.”

“It also helps when you get great volunteer support, and in Delaware County and surrounding areas more than 2,200 people will fill critical roles that include everything from player transport to venue services, cart drivers, marshals, greeters and food service assistants.” 

BL: “How would you describe the BMW Championship experience to someone considering buying a ticket vs. watching it on TV?”
VP: “TV is great, but compared to attending a golf event in person, there’s no contest.  These top courses are stunningly beautiful, and few sports allow spectators as close to the action.  This event will also feature incredible social experiences with exciting BMW interactive displays.  Another reason to buy a ticket is that golf, like football, doesn’t compete as often as baseball or basketball.  Eagles’ fans will have only 8 chances to see their reigning Super Bowl Champs play in Philly this year – but for golf fans, only a handful of cities in the entire country will host a single top golf event.” 

Another great way to get up close and personal with
your favorite golfers is to get tickets for practice
rounds leading up to the event.  Picture above is the
crowd from last year’s event, watching and
listening in as several golfers warm up.

BL: “This has been a huge year for golf, with Tiger’s resurgence, Phil ‘s 43rd PGA TOUR win,  Bubba’s big bounce back taking home three trophies, and the youth movement racking up majors like they are billiard balls.  What will these and the other top golfer’s need to do to win here?”

VP: “Anyone who played in Tiger’s AT&T event here 7 years ago, is in for a big surprise.  Aronimink has taken the original Donald Ross design, and brought it ‘back to the future,’ so to speak.  Doubling the number of bunkers both guarding the greens and some fairways, will make every drive off the tee worth a second thought.  But the most challenging part of the course will be in and around the greens.  Short play will be very important and only those at the top their game will be high on the leaderboard.”

BL: “I understand the BMW Championship is the oldest event on the PGA TOUR. (The British and U.S. Opens are older, but are not PGA TOUR events.)  When did it reincarnate into its current format?Ú

VP: “As we made the turn into the 21st century, the Western Golf Association was approached by the PGA TOUR with an opportunity to become a championship event as part of a playoff where the best players in the world would compete at the end of the year for both a trophy and a huge $10,000,000 purse.”
At the 2017 BMW Championship, a hole-in-one
by Jason Day meant an extra $100,000 for the Evans
Scholars Foundation which has sent more than
11,000 student caddies to college since 1930.
There are currently 965 Evans Scholars enrolled
at 20 universities, and this year they will award
funding for 270 more.  Their Evans Scholars
have a 95% graduation rate.

“Accepting the challenge, we debuted as the BMW Championship in 2007, and now, every other year, we go beyond our original western boundaries to rotate through other markets across the country. This has also given us a national stage for promoting our outstanding Evans Scholars Foundation which provides full-tuition college scholarships for caddies of modest means and shines a light on the development of young talent. And this year we have the opportunity to spotlight our partnership with the Golf Association of Philadelphia to support the Platt Evans Scholarship.

“When it officially became the BMW Championship, the event also changed from a full field event of 156 players, to the top 70 players – with no traditional cut on Friday. That’s important because when you have a favorite player, you’ll be able to walk with him all four days.”

BL: “Aronimink has hosted several PGA TOUR and Amateur events, the most recent being the AT&T in 2011. When did Aronimink first appear on your radar as a site for this year’s BMW Championship?”

VP: “The East Coast location is great, and the Philadelphia market is an important one that we started looking at in 2014. Aronimink had a long history of hosting top events, and the Club had both an engaged membership and a strong volunteer base which are critical in hosting this event.  Plus, they had a master plan to restore the course, and we valued the fact that they were restoring it both for their own membership – and for the opportunity to host more top golf events in the future.  This mentality is exactly what earns a serious look by a major event planning committee.“

BL: “Recent BMW Championship host courses include Conway Farms, Crooked Stick and Cherry Hills. What traits do those sites share with Aronimink?”

VP: “It’s simple, really - they are all iconic courses and all have the ability to stand up and test the best players in the world.”

BL: Any final thoughts you’d like us to share with people throughout the five county area? 

VP: “This event isn’t just big for the players, it’s very special to all of us at WGA because the proceeds from the 2018 BMW Championship benefit the Platt Evans Scholarships for caddies attending Penn State University and to establish a scholarship house where scholars will live together on campus.  Currently the Evans Scholars Foundation and our partnership J. Wood Platt here in Philadelphia to create the Platt Evans Scholarships combined are supporting nearly 1,000 student scholars in college this year, and we’re adding 270 more – including some who will attend Penn State from local Philadelphia-area clubs.  That means every ticket sold to this BMW Championship event provides outstanding educational assistance here in Pennsylvania, and is also helping to “drive” the growth of golf into the next generation.”

Few sports allow fans as close to the players as Golf.  Here is Dustin Johnson, the current #1 player in the world, shaking and bumping hands with his fans during the 2017 BMW Championship. There are a variety of tickets, including Practice Round. Get yours now and follow your favorite players at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square. Click Here.
Several staff members at Destination Delco are big golf fans.  Some have even been lucky enough to attend a TOUR event.  But if you haven’t, think about the last time you watched a Ryder Cup competition on TV.  Even the players become part of the crowd, finishing their rounds and then racing back to the course, to follow their team-mates, hole to hole.  

During the recent PGA Championship, the announcers talked each day about the return of the ‘Tiger roars’ echoing all over the course. Your voice, your passion are an integral part of the game.  Experience for yourself the sound that both thrills and chills players and fans alike… “Was that a Birdie? An Eagle? Who’s charging up the leaderboard? ”  

Come watch the best golfers in the world do business in Delaware County.  And let’s face it, their office is pretty magnificent.