In less than a year and a half, Tiger Woods and the best golfers in the world are expected to compete in a pro golf tournament just a short drive from the York County border.
A short car drive, that is.
The PGA Tour officially announced Thursday that it is scheduled to make a stop in the Baltimore area for the first time in nearly six decades.
Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills will play host to next year’s BMW Championship, the second of three FedEx Cup playoff events. It will be the first PGA Tour event in the area since the Eastern Open Invitational at Mount Pleasant Municipal Golf Club in 1962.
Caves Valley is located fewer than 30 miles south of the southern York County border. It is less than 45 miles from York's Continental Square.
Building toward a big event: Caves Valley opened off Park Heights Avenue in Baltimore County in 1991 and has been building toward hosting a major men’s golf tournament for years.
The rolling course hosted its first major amateur event, the Mid-Amateur, in 1995. It’s since seen the men’s and women’s NCAA championships, USGA events, the 2002 U.S. Senior Open, the 2007 Palmer Cup, the LPGA’s 2014 International Crown and the Constellation Senior Players Championship in 2017.
BMW has been held near Chicago: The BMW Championship has been held in the Chicago area every other year since 2011, with stays in Indiana, Colorado and Pennsylvania.
The 2020 BMW Championship will be played at the Olympia Fields Country Club in Illinois before coming to Maryland on Aug. 17-22, 2021.
The selection of Caves Valley was announced Thursday by the tournament organizer, the Western Golf Association. The Illinois-based association conducts the BMW Championship as a fundraiser for its Evans Scholars Foundation, which provides college scholarships to golf caddies.
Stellar field should generate big economic impact: The tournament features a field of 70 of the top golfers on tour, whittling that group down to 30 for the final stage of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
That means Woods, currently ranked among the world's top-10 players and a 14-time major champion, would be expected to qualify for the event, barring injury or unexpected poor form in 2021.
The 2019 BMW Championship was played at Medinah Country Club outside of Chicago, drawing more than 130,000 spectators from 44 states and three countries.
The event generated nearly $20 million in direct spending, $3 million in lodging, $4 million in food and beverage sales, $1.7 million in state taxes, and $400,000 in local taxes. Some of that economic impact could well trickle into York County.
It was broadcast nationally on a variety of networks, including the Golf Channel and NBC.
An exclusive course: Caves Valley is perhaps Baltimore’s most exclusive golf course, organized by business leaders who wanted a golf club without all the trappings of a country club with pools and tennis courts and kids running around.
Its more than 500 members have included many of the region’s top business and sports figures, including Ravens owner and staffing company mogul Steve Bisciotti, Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, Orioles Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., and a long list of national figures such as basketball’s Michael Jordan, former New York City mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, and journalist and author Thomas Friedman.
Two years ago, initiation fees were $100,000 with annual dues of $20,000 for local members. Those living farther away pay less.
What members get is ready access to an exquisitely maintained private course designed by noted golf architect Tom Fazio. It currently ranks 152nd on Golf Digest’s list of the best courses nationally.
Woods has twice won the event: Fourth-ranked PGA Tour golfer Justin Thomas won the 2019 BMW Championship. Woods won the inaugural event in 2007 and again in 2009, with current PGA Tour No. 1 Rory McIlroy finishing first in 2012. When Woods won the event in 2007 and 2009 he went on to win the overall FedEx Cup crown.
The location of the 2022 tournament, the last BMW is under contract to be title sponsor of, is not yet determined.
The PGA Tour first came to Baltimore in 1950. First called the Eastern Open Invitational and played for nine years at Mount Pleasant before finishing its 13-year run at Pine Ridge in Lutherville, the event is best known for being Arnold Palmer’s first tour win. That came in 1956 after he famously hit his opening tee shot out of bounds.
The Baltimore Sun, through the TNS news service, contributed to this report.