Teeing off: 130 athletes representing 40 countries gather for Garden City’s Charity Classic golf tournament

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FINNEY COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Giving back to area female golf programs while also boosting the local economy — an elite golf tournament has people from across the world flocking to the southwest corner of the state.

More than 130 athletes representing 40 countries are in Garden City this week in hopes of getting one step closer to the top tier of their career. The Symetra Tour’s Garden City Charity Classic is teeing off its 7th year after being canceled last year due to COVID-19.

“For people who aren’t familiar with it, we talk about it like it’s Triple-A baseball. these are the next generation of stars that are looking forward to their opportunity to play on the LPGA tour,” said Mike Nichols, Chief Business Officer of LPGA Qualifying Tours.

This year, athletes will be competing at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course. The course is considered to be one of the top municipal courses in the country. It’s one of the largest events in southwest Kansas promoting ladies’ golf.

“For them to be able to experience that small town metro feel and you know the wonderful people that we have in our community, I think it’s pretty special,” said Roxanne Lansink, Executive Director of Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Of Finney County’s almost 80 yearly events, the tournament ranks first, bringing in a nearly $1 million economic impact.

“Obviously when you’re bringing people from international travel, it helps our employment, obviously it’s helping our restaurants, they have to stay somewhere, they’re going to fill our lodging facilities,” said Lansink.

The money raised in the classic will help support local ladies’ golf programs in 22 southwest Kansas counties.

For the defending tournament winner, she says it’s an honor to help build the future of the sport she loves. “It’s a bonus to be able to support other girls and that we can support their dreams, just like we are living our dream,” said Alejandra Llaneza, 2019 Garden City Charity Classic Winner.

Since its start, the event has raised more than $100,000. Throughout the week the classic is hosting Pro-Am rounds and junior clinics. The tournament will officially start on Friday.

Before competing, players must test negative for COVID-19 as well as fill out daily health surveys.

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