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Turning Stone Resort Championship leaves PGA TOUR schedule

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VERONA, N.Y. – The PGA TOUR and Turning Stone Resort recently announced that the Turning Stone Resort Championship, staged at Atunyote Golf Club for the past four years, will not return to the PGA TOUR schedule in 2011.

Turning Stone had expressed interest in having an unencumbered date during the PGA TOUR regular season, but a mutually agreeable date did not become available.

“We enjoyed hosting a PGA TOUR event the past four years and have great respect for the organization and professional players we welcomed here,” said Ray Halbritter, Oneida Nation Representative and CEO of Nation Enterprises, including Turning Stone Resort. “We had hoped to secure an unshared date on the PGA TOUR schedule that would highlight the peak golf season in central New York state, but unfortunately it did not work out.”

Halbritter said Turning Stone, the acclaimed golf destination owned and operated by the Oneida Indian Nation, is exploring new options to host professional golf events. He also said that if opportunities arise in the future with the PGA TOUR “that are consistent with the Oneida Indian Nation’s goals for our Turning Stone Resort Championship, we would be pleased to consider them.”

“We sincerely thank Turning Stone Resort, Ray Halbritter and the entire Oneida Indian Nation for being part of the PGA TOUR over the past four years,” said PGA TOUR Chief of Operations Rick George. “They have been wonderful hosts and our players thoroughly enjoyed the experience of playing and staying at Turning Stone.”

Halbritter said Turning Stone accomplished what it had hoped to by hosting a PGA TOUR tournament.

“Our intention from the outset was for the tournament to bring added stature to our renowned resort and golf courses, which it has done. It was significant that ours was the only PGA TOUR event played on American Indian lands. Seeing some of the best golfers in the world play on our homelands sent a message to American Indian and other minority youth that every opportunity in this country is available to everyone.”

Looking ahead, Turning Stone hopes to host more significant golf events, such as the annual Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation Challenge, which recently featured 12 PGA TOUR and LPGA Tour members competing in a best-ball team format. This past August, the team of Hunter Mahan and Cristie Kerr won, with Rickie Fowler and Annika Sorenstam finishing second. The event raised $1.25 million for the Notah Begay III Foundation.

“We will be looking aggressively for sanctioned or independent events with stellar participants that can continue to bring acclaim to Turning Stone, as the NB3 Foundation Challenge does,” Halbritter said. “The Turning Stone Resort Championship has demonstrated our ability to host a high-quality event, both in the conditioning and presentation of our golf course, as well as operational staging.”

Editor’s note: Indian Country Today is a division of Four Directions Media, which is owned by Oneida Nation Enterprises, LLC.