The Canada Tour will indeed be stopping in Kamloops this summer.
The Home Hardware Pro Am is scheduled for Sun Rivers Golf Course, June 13-15, and the field is expected to include Roger Sloan of Merritt.
Last summer, Sloan won the inaugural Western Championship at Rivershore Golf Links. However, that event has since been dropped from the Canadian Tour schedule due to a lack of sponsorship.
Enter the Home Hardware Pro Am.
"We really wanted to figure out a way where we could keep the Canadian Tour presence here in Kamloops," Rob Larocque, the general manager at Sun Rivers, said Thursday, "so that hopefully in the long term, maybe next year or the year after, we can get back to a four-day or even a cooler event to help us showcase our great product we have here in Kamloops."
This will be a pro am with a twist, too.
Most pro ams feature groups that include one professional and as many as five amateurs. The Home Hardware event will total 30 threesomes, each one comprising two pros and one amateur.
"This is a great opportunity for the amateurs to get to know the players on a more personal level in a more relaxed atmosphere," Larocque said.
As Larocque pointed out, a pro am usually is held the day before a four-day Tour event, meaning the pros are "in full work mode . . . it's all about business."
This year's Canadian Tour opens in Victoria with the Times Colonist Island Savings Open, June 7-10. The second event, the ATB Financial Classic, is two weeks later, June 21-24, in Edmonton.
The Sun Rivers stop slides into that opening in the Tour's schedule, and it's all about trying to maintain Kamloops' spot on the calendar while hoping to resurrect the Western Championship or a similar event.
"For us," Larocque said, "it was 'How can we make something happen quick, simple, keep the Tour here, give the players somewhere to play, so that the local golf community gets to see the players in a light that a lot of the Rivershore members got to see?'
"Now if we can get some more people exposure to it, maybe we can get a four-day event . . . and get the sponsorship level to where it needs to be."
Having the Tour players stop off here also is important.
"The product we have here is so great that we want to expose that to as many people as we can," Larocque explained. "Having 60 Canadian Tour players coming in and playing and having a great experience with Kamloops . . . they're travelling across the country and they're dealing with . . . thousands of people at each event. So if they're talking about what a great time they had in Kamloops, that's good not only for the golf courses but great for the community."
The early entry sheet includes Sloan, who was fifth on the Canadian Tour Order of Merit last season; Jose de Jesus Rodriguez of Mexico, who finished atop the Order; and, Stuart Anderson of Strathmore, Alta., who was the top Canadian a year ago in finishing fourth.
Players will take part in practice rounds on June 13, with tournament rounds each of the next two days. A celebratory dinner and prize presentations will be held June 15 at Hoodoos at Sun Rivers.
The entry fee for amateur players is $299 plus HST. For more details, visit sunrivers.com.