McConnell Golf’s Knoxville, Tenn. property has a five-year agreement to host the newly named Visit Knoxville Open, starting in 2020, on its Donald Ross-designed course.
The PGA TOUR and TOUR Vision Promotions have announced that the Korn Ferry Tour’s newly named Visit Knoxville Open will move to historic Holston Hills Country Club in Knoxville, Tenn., beginning in 2020. A five-year agreement is in place through 2024.
Holston Hills is owned by Raleigh-based McConnell Golf. Founded in 1927, the club is set on 180 acres of hills adjacent to the Holston River on the northeast side of Knoxville. The Donald Ross-designed golf course is consistently ranked among the country’s top 100 by Golf Magazine and within the top 100 classical golf courses by Golfweek Magazine.
Holston Hills has played host to several national events in its history, including the PGA TOUR’s Knoxville Invitational, which was won by Byron Nelson in 1945 during an historic season that included Nelson’s record-setting 18 victories. Recently, Holston Hills welcomed the 2004 USGA Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship and the Tennessee PGA Championship in 2007, 2014 and 2018—an event that it will host again in October 2019.
“We are very proud to host the Visit Knoxville Open,” said Chris Dibble, Holston Hills’ Director of Golf. “This tournament aligns perfectly with our history of hosting great championships since the club was built in 1927. We are very happy to be working again with Visit Knoxville, and are excited to work closely with the Korn Ferry Tour.”
McConnell Golf has been the longtime host of another Korn Ferry event, the REX Hospital Open, which is contested annually at the Country Club at Wakefield Plantation in Raleigh, N.C.. The Visit Knoxville Open is contested in mid-May, while the REX Hospital Open is played in late May and early June. There will be one week between the Holston Hills and Wakefield events in 2020.
In addition, McConnell Golf’s Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., annually plays host to the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship, the sixth-oldest event on the PGA TOUR excluding the major championships.
The PGA TOUR and TOUR Vision Promotions also announced a new partnership for Visit Knoxville to serve as title sponsor of the Korn Ferry Tour’s longstanding event in Knoxville.
“Hosting the Visit Knoxville Open is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the historic Holston Hills Country Club,” said Kim Bumpas, President of Visit Knoxville. “This partnership with the City of Knoxville, Knox County, and the Korn Ferry Tour provides a true community celebration of this longstanding tournament, inviting visitors for years to come.”
The Visit Knoxville Open is one of four original tournaments from the Korn Ferry Tour’s inaugural 1990 season. Over the last 30 years, the event has produced a number of noteworthy champions, including future PGA TOUR winners Jeff Maggert (1990), J.J. Henry (2000), Vaughn Taylor (2003), Chez Reavie (2007), Chris Kirk (2010) and Patton Kizzire (2015), who used his victory to garner Player of the Year honors that season. Other notables that have competed in the Visit Knoxville Open include two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, 13-time PGA TOUR winner David Toms, U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover and PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker.
The Visit Knoxville Open will continue to be operated by TOUR Vision Promotions, which also operates the Nashville Golf Open Benefitting the Snedeker Foundation and the Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance. The Boys and Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley will continue to receive net proceeds from the event as the tournament’s primary charitable beneficiary.
With 50 available PGA TOUR cards for the following season (since 2013), the Korn Ferry Tour is the path to the PGA TOUR. Twenty-five TOUR cards are reserved for the leading money winners at the end of the 24-event regular season. Another 25 are up for grabs at the three-event Korn Ferry Tour Finals that follow the regular season in August and September.
McConnell Golf purchased Holston Hills at the end of 2015 (https://clubandresortbusiness.com/mcconnell-golf-acquires-holston-hills-cc/) and immediately invested $1.4 million in capital improvements. “I knew when I saw Holston Hills that it would be a great addition to our golf portfolio,” said McConnell Golf CEO John McConnell. “Holston Hills enjoys a proud past and we think that it has a great future as well. It’s a ‘must play’ for our members.”