by bob labbe
The future is now and Huntsville is one of the main travel ports for those looking to the future in professional golf. More than 150 golfers from the Korn Ferry Tour will take to the challenging Ledges Golf Course as part of the Korn Ferry Tour’s Huntsville Championship April 25-May 1 in their tour-long attempt to earn their card to play on the PGA Tour in the future. For these elite young players, their future is now as the Korn Ferry Tour is labeled “The Path to the PGA Tour.”
The Huntsville Championship is one of 26 stops, including four international events, on the 2022 calendar for the tour. This year’s tournament is the second of a five-year partnership that is in place through 2024. The tournament is owned and operated by the Birmingham-based sports marketing and event management firm Knight Eady. “For Huntsville to be included on the list and have the opportunity to host is an incredible honor and testament to the community of Huntsville and the willingness to step up, support and give back,” said Penn Garvich, the Huntsville Championship Tournament Director.
“The Huntsville Championship provides a unique experience to witness the future stars of the PGA Tour playing right here in our backyard.”Penn Garvich, Huntsville championship tournament director
A variety of ticket types are available. Fans may purchase a Good Any Day grounds admission ticket starting at $10, or weekly passes are available for fans who wish to experience the entire tournament weekend. Upgraded hospitality options are also available with the SkyDeck and the Michelob Ultra Patio, a new ticket option open to the public this year.
“We are once again looking forward to welcoming fans up to The Ledges for this year’s Huntsville Championship,” said Garvich. “The tournament witnessed an amazing turnout last year and we are excited to build off of the momentum. We want to welcome back everyone that attended in 2021, but also want to encourage those that weren’t able to experience the event to join us this year and help us welcome some of the world’s best professional golfers to Huntsville.”
The Korn Ferry Tour began in 2013 and is the main source of where top golfers can play for their right to earn a PGA Tour Card. Numerous top players in the world made their way through the Korn Ferry Tour on their way to superstar status among the PGA Tour including Justin Tomas, Jason Day, Zach Johnson and two-time Masters Champion Bubba Watson.
The Ledges layout is regarded as one of the most challenging and most beautiful scenic golf courses in all of Alabama. Sitting on top of Huntsville Mountain at 1,582 feet elevation, second highest point in Huntsville only to Monte Sano Mountain, the 18-hole layout has Bent Grass greens, Zoysia fairways and Bermuda rough. Designed with five different sets of tees, sculpted greens and fairways and challenging bunkers and water hazards, The Ledges plays to a par 71 over 7, 136 yards. The United States Golf Association has given the course a 74.9 rating with a slope of 137.
“Statistically the 15th hole was the hardest for the professionals last year because the tournament played the hole as a par 4 rather than the usual par 5 we have on the scorecard,” said Rob Clark, Director of Golf at The Ledges.
The 15th hole is a 509-yard dogleg left with a severe drop off down the mountain on the left side from tee to green. The approach shot is easily one of the finest in all of Alabama as the backdrop to the green has been cleared of trees and an incredible view of the Hampton Cove Community is staring directly into the faces of the players. For the Huntsville Championship the course will play to a par 70.
The course is fan friendly as many of the holes have splendid views from several locations. The attendees are also blessed with nature at its best as views from the course overlook the Tennessee Valley on three sides of Huntsville Mountain. On a clear days, the views are easily as far as the eyes can see. Landmarks that dot the horizon are at a premium, so while watching some of the top golfers on the Korn Ferry Tour, the natural wildlife of the terrane can many times be within yards of your location and the views onto the valley below are breathtaking.
In 2021, there was a vast amount of uncertainty surrounding the tournament due to COVID challenges and the being the inaugural year of the professional golf tournament. Through enormous hard work by the tournament staff, volunteers and sponsors, the more than 6,000 people who attended experienced a tremendous experience with even more excitement coming this year.
“Based on what we experienced last year and the general feedback we received, we will enhance a few areas on the course, provide additional food and beverage options and add more activation elements,” added Garvich.
The SkyDeck will offer an exclusive shared hospitality experience on the course with complimentary food and beverage. Located on the 18th fairway and close to the main entrance and clubhouse, the SkyDeck provides a prime viewing opportunity on the tournament’s closing hole. In addition, fans can purchase upgraded tickets to the Michelob Ultra Patio located on the 10th tee. This ticket option allows fans a unique poolside experience with various hospitality amenities. Food and beverages will be available for purchase at the Patio.
In late 2021, the Huntsville Championship and the Community Foundation of Greater Huntsville recognized five local charities as grant recipients of the Huntsville Championship’s Military Support Fund. The mammoth efforts by all involved with the tournament proved the event is more than just a golf tournament, more than a social gathering, and more than a chance to see the future right before your eyes. The Huntsville Championship is a community event with the entire Tennessee Valley involved.
“The Huntsville market was one that was on the radar due to its progressive growth, track record of events and community support and geographical locations,” said Garvich. “Through several conversations and site visits to The Ledges, the Korn Ferry Tour confirmed it was a facility that not only checked all the necessary boxes to host, but exceeded all expectations.”
“From our perspective, the tournament was a huge hit,” added Clark. “The Korn Ferry Tour and the Knight Eady group did a tremendous job of making everything work. We’re proud of our course and we are happy to share what we have with the Huntsville Community. We had two players in our tournament last year make their way to the PGA Tour, so it will be interesting to see who plays well this year.”
The entire range of tournament information is available at the tournament’s website: