Messy end to Western Am and Point O'Woods relationship

On Wednesday, the Western Golf Association announced that the next seven Western Amateurs would be at Chicago area clubs.

With that one announcement, the 38-year relationship between the Western and Point O’Woods Golf Club in Benton Harbor comes to an end, perhaps permanently.

A tradition that has produced the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson as its previous champions, did not end amicably. As it turns out, it was a very messy divorce.

Under the previous deal between the two sides, the WGA paid Point O’Woods $32,000 to rent out its course to host one of the top amateur tournaments in the country.

But Point O’Woods says the tournament was becoming a financial burden and they were looking for a new deal.

In October, they proposed increasing the rental fee from $32,000 to $150,000. This would include reimbursement for the 600 green fees given to the WGA and help pay for any changes the WGA would like to make to the golf course.

But the WGA says the figure was way too high.

“Since we are a charitable organization in that all our money goes to put Michigan caddies through Michigan and Michigan state, that amount of money was obviously not acceptable to us,” WGA President and CEO Don Johnson explains.

But Point O'Woods says that the $150,000 figure hasn't been in play for nine months and that it wasn’t a part of the new agreement made in January.

"Frankly I'm getting tired of that comment since that was our initial request back in October,” Michael Piraino, President of the Point O’Woods Board of Directors, said.

“We negotiated for two and half months after that at which time that $150,000 never came up."

Instead, the two sides agreed Point O'Woods would host once every five years. The deal was announced to the public in February.

Piraino says they were to be paid the same as the Chicago area clubs that would also be in the rotation, even if it was lower than the original $32,000. As he explained it, Point O’Woods was willing to take a financial hit once every five years because it wanted to keep the tradition of hosting the Western Amateur.

But this week, the WGA announced its plans for the next seven years, and Point O'Woods was not included in anyway.

"We are very disappointed to lose the tournament completely,” Piraino said.

“We are especially disappointed that the Western Golf association is not honoring the agreement we had back in January and to do it the way they did is very disappointing."

The match play rounds on Saturday and Sunday could very well be historic as the next Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson could begin to come on the horizon.

But they may also be historic because they are likely the final two days of golf ever for the Western Amateur at Point O’Woods.

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