Charity Pro-Am tees off in Garden City

Golfers playing at Buffalo Dunes during the Pro-Am

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – It’s that time of year again. The Southwest Kansas Pro-Am teed off in Garden City today.

This staple of the community means big returns for local charities.

“You know I always look forward to pro-am week,” said Jenna Shook, a sponsor and participant in the tournament. “It’s always fun. We became family with a lot of the pros. I do host one every year, so it’s nice to see the guys, how far they come every year.”

The 37th annual Southwest Kansas Pro-Am tournament teed off today, bringing pro golfers from across the country together with local amateurs to compete in the charity event.

“Pro Am is the longest running professional golf tournament in the state,” said Roxanne Morgan of the Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “That makes it very special. Not only the fact of that, but it also funds the neonatal unit, intensive care unit at the hospital.”

The tournament raises about $60,000 for St. Catherine Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, also known as the NICU. The annual donation helps pay for non-budgeted essential equipment, like replacing an outdated security system.

”We installed a new baby safety monitoring system that was funded through the Pro-Am,” said Kenne Whitson with St. Catherine Hospital. “So that way when the babies are born, they get the band on their wrist. If they get near the door of their room, it sets off an alarm and locks down the unit.”

The purpose of the charity tournament hits close to home for many participants.

“With the NICU, I did have a niece that was born at one pound, one ounce,” said Shook, “and so after going through a situation like that, it means a lot to me.”

The tournament is expected to pump about $200,000 into the local economy.

Of course, it’s also a professional competition.

Golf pros will compete in a final round on Sunday for $20,000. It’s a small prize compared to the Symetra Tour coming through Garden in September, but the real winners are the newborn babies.

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