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Rockford ProAm, the longest free-standing pro-am in the country, canceled for 2021

It was a unanimous decision by the Board of Directors to cancel the event for a second straight year.
Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 1:03 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Seven months after cancelling what would have been the 44th Rockford ProAm, the Board of Directors have decided to cancel the 2021 event as well.

Rockford ProAm President Scott Nicholas said it was a unanimous decision to not host next year’s ProAm.

“Typically, by now in November, we would be quite a ways down the path of our planning, but that’s been all on hold because of the pandemic and the situation we’re all dealing with.”

The Rockford ProAm is normally held in July, with hundreds of spectators walking the course. In 2019, the Rockford ProAm was held at Aldeen Golf Club for the first time and they plan to be back there again. Nicholas said the decision also had to do with dollars and cents.

“Our costs are somewhere around $125,000 just to pay for the golf pros, before we do anything else " said Nicholas. “We need $125,000 in donations and sponsorships before we get to talking about doing anything else.”

Nicholas has been a part of the ProAm since the beginning, and said it’s been difficult to cancel back-to-back summers.

“To say that we can’t do it is a heart-breaker for all of us,” said Nicholas. “We also have a strong mission to be able to supply some funds to local charities, who are all hurting right, just like the rest of us.”

In 2019, the Rockford ProAm donated $40,000 to the YMCA of Rock River Valley. Nicholas said the plan is to continue to maximize funding by donating to one charity each year if they can, but did not rule out donating to multiple organizations.

Nicholas said the pairings party and dinner may be changed to be more cost-effective, but he wants to keep the structure of playing the golf event on Mondays. Local high school and junior golfers have been sponsored for the last dozen or so years, and Nicholas also hopes to keep that going once the tournament can be played safely once again.

He also wants to have area golf fans get to experience a unique opportunity of watching some of the best in the world right here in Rockford. Nicholas just does not think they can do that right now.

“We don’t have a bubble, so these players would be coming from a variety of places around the country,” explained Nicholas. “On their tours, they do testing every day, they do testing before they get there. They’ve got systems in place, we’re not that sophisticated.”

Nicholas stressed that the Rockford ProAm is not going away. They fully plan to return when it is safe and financially makes sense to pull it off. The Board hopes to put together an online auction down the road to help put away some money for charities. Nicholas said there’s a chance the ProAm may put on some sort of virtual golf clinic just to keep fans engaged.

“I kind of say, I don’t want this to go away on my watch,” said Nicholas. “Again, I’ve been involved with this for 44-45 years. I feel passionate about the event. The bottom line is people to know we’re not leaving. We’re still going to be here, but we need this pandemic to get under control.”

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