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The 2022 LECOM Suncoast Classic

The 2022 LECOM Suncoast Classic

Brings a New Sense of Community to Sarasota & Manatee County

By: Travis Cornwell

The LECOM Suncoast Classic is taking place for the fourth year in a row in the Sunshine State. In 2022, it again will be held at the beautiful Lakewood National Golf Club in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. The tournament will return to the Korn Ferry Tour (previously the Tour) and will host 144 professionals competing for a $600,000 purse and a chance to contend against the world’s best golfers on the PGA TOUR.

The tournament is owned by a management group called Global Golf Management, which is now SPORTFIVE. SPORTFIVE is known for being a sports agency that represents some big-name players such as John Rahm and Phil Mickelson. The title sponsor for the event is Lake
Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) and will be extending its sponsorship through 2026.

The PGA TOUR looks at many different demographics when picking a location to host a golf tournament. “Being how the tournament is in February, there aren’t too many places that can support a tournament. It has to be Florida, Arizona or Southern California,” says Justin Kristich, Tournament Director. Timing is everything as there is already so much happening in Florida in the month of February. Spring Training is right around the corner, and there is the Regatta, so this gives the community another unique event to attend.

Lakewood Ranch was a big target that the PGA TOUR liked since they knew people would participate along with having many businesses be involved around Manatee and Sarasota
County. It has been very successful so far which is why it will stay in this part of Florida through 2023.

With the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19, some of the tournament’s bigger sponsors
pulled out last year. However, this year has shown an increase in revenue numbers. This has been because there has been a tremendous increase in smaller sponsorships from the local area. “I’d rather have 50 $1,000 sponsors than one $50,000 sponsor. There’s more room to grow those sponsorships and keep that relationship. It seemed to be right around the $5,000 to $10,000 range for a lot of these local businesses that saw the value we were trying to provide for them. Such as advertising to many people throughout the weekend,” says Justin Kristich.

Another initiative how the LECOM Classic is engaging the community is their First Tee Program.
This is an annual program that has all different age groups and skill levels. First Tee enhances the experience during the tournament in hopes to get more kids involved in the game of golf.

During the tournament, they will host a junior clinic which will help kids learn about First Tee while also having some fun. Kristich says, “The professionals will be able to answer questions, show the kids some trick shots, it’s really great to see. First Tee wants to promote this program and utilize the tournament to grow the initiative to create better people through the game of golf.”

The LECOM Classic will have over 500 volunteers to help run this tournament, which is more than any given year. “The volunteer group is the lifeline of the tournament,” says Kristich. Sarasota and Manatee counties are known for being a rich golf community and during times where there was an increase for outdoor activities such as the game of golf during the pandemic, it is great to provide this type of event for the local residents.

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