Project comes to fruition after nearly a decade.
By TOM MOOR
Courtesy of the South Bend Tribune
BBENTON HARBOR — Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer won’t be coming to the opening of The Golf Club at Harbor Shores without a couple of their closest friends.
It was announced Thursday that Tom Watson and Johnny Miller will join the golf legends on Aug. 10 at the grand opening of the Jack Nicklaus Signature Course.
“We’ve never seen any opening of a golf course conducted this way,” said Harbor Shores Managing Director Mark Hesemann.
The event, titled “Champions for Change Tournament,” will feature the foursome competing in an 18-hole scramble skins format with rotating two-man teams.
The four have combined to win 35 major championships, including 18 by Nicklaus. At 59, Watson made waves last year by nearly winning the British Open, while Miller is the lead golf analyst for NBC Sports.
Course officials held a news conference Thursday to give the media a tour of the course and release details of the grand opening.
The course, a vision for almost a decade, will stretch from Lake Michigan to near downtown Benton Harbor — and is being championed by Harbor Shores officials as an economic engine for the area.
But the project was challenged legally on several different occasions, only to prevail in the end each time.
As far as the grand opening, a limited number of tickets are going for $50, which will give access to the challenge and a golf clinic, hosted by the foursome. A “roundtable” discussion will be held that evening from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College. Tickets are $25.
“We are truly honored to have four golf legends on board to celebrate the opening of this world-class golf venue and help us spark revitalization efforts throughout the community,” Hesemann said.
The 530-acre development is situated near Lake Michigan and the Paw Paw and St. Joseph rivers. There are also plans for town houses, cottages, condominiums and a family hotel. Plans are for the Harbor Shores project to include 12 distinctive neighborhoods with a total of nearly 800 residences.
“It’s a great opportunity for Benton Harbor,” said Marcus Robinson, president at Consortium for Community Development.
The course should be open to play by July 1.
The venture cleared two legal hurdles earlier this year.
In January, a lawsuit filed by proponents of Jean Klock Park, who had sought to block conversion of a portion of the park land for the course, was dismissed.
In another decision the same week, the Michigan Appeals Court upheld a 2008 decision by the Berrien County Circuit Court that privatization of a portion of the park does not violate conditions of the Klock family’s deeding of park property to the city of Benton Harbor.