Barbasol Championship not returning in 2018

AUBURN AND OPELIKA, Ala.- This summer, the Barbasol Championship will be teeing off in Kentucky, making it the first tournament Kentucky has had almost 60 years.

Robert Trent Jones' Grand National Golf Course held the tournament from 2015 until this past July.

Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller said the city is disappointed the tournament is leaving. He said it was tremendous for the area and state as a whole. Mayor Fuller said there was a great response from the players and their families and a tremendous outpouring of volunteering from those in the community.

Mayor Fuller added that the tournament showed that the area can host an event of this magnitude, but it gave the area a tremendous amount of exposure that can not have a price tag attached to it.

"It's hard to judge the person that's watching from Texas or Nebraska that takes his buddies, they fly to Atlanta, they rent a car, an hour and fifteen minutes and they're at Grand National," Mayor Fuller said. "They stay here for two or three days, play golf, they enjoy our restaurants."

The tournament was a $20 to $25 million impact to the area each year it teed off. According to the Auburn Opelika Tourism Bureau, hotels during this past year's tournament brought in more than $1 million in revenue.

Trey Johnston, the owner of J&M Bookstore said he was disappointed when he learned the tournament was not coming back. He said he was a fan of the tournament not only for the professional golf, but for the economic impact it had on the area.

"Summertime is a great time for tours and people coming through our area and visiting the community," Johnston said. We have a lot of campus visits, a lot of people get off the interstate and see Auburn University, the place where Bo Jackson went to school, just as simple as that. This is just one of things we'll miss here in the next few years."

Mayor Fuller said he along with Auburn Mayor Bill Ham and Auburn Opelika Tourism Bureau President John Wild will work to find other options to bring to the area in the tournament;s absence.

"I don't think we can probably replicate getting that kind of national TV exposure. As far as bringing folks to Opelika, Auburn and having folks stay here and participate, whether it be sports or some other kind of activity, I think there are some opportunities for us."

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