Friends of mine have said the PGA describes themselves as a “circus coming to town.” Tons of preparation, build the big circus tent, put on a helluva show, then pack up and leave for the next city. That seems very fitting. They’ve turned this town upside down and there’s never been anything more positive for these two cities of 25,000. First of all, it’s mind-blowing that a major professional championship is in southwest Michigan. You could expect an event of this magnitude in a city like Detroit, Chicago, Jacksonville, or St. Louis, but not Benton Harbor, Michigan! Through the vision and efforts of people like Jack Sparks, Dave Whitwam and Jeff Fettig, all present and past CEO’s of Whirlpool, along with Mark Hesemann and Jack Nicklaus, Harbor Shores came to life as a 530-acre golf course and community. I’ve been told the typical PGA course is about a 7-8 mile walk. This course is 12, giving you some idea of the size of this development. They’re expecting 10-15,000 spectators a day to watch the Senior PGA and even in this resort town on Memorial Day, that’s a lot of people. The unfortunate part is that the course is so big it will look like no one is here.
Whenever there is change, there will be protests and we’ve seen our share. People didn’t like the idea that the beach was taken to build a golf course. “The beach” has never looked better as it sat empty along the incredible shores of Lake Michigan for four decades. It was abandoned and pretty much a dump. You’ll see pictures of today as you read below. I know I sound like a PR machine for a golf course but nothing could be further from the truth. I’m just a photographer who grew up in a manufacturing town that “went south” in the 70’s much like Pittsburgh, Detroit and any other “rust belt” city. Even The New York Times did a story in the Sunday magazine about Harbor Shores. The theme of the article was something to the effect that the manufacturing jobs are gone so let’s build a golf course! Has anyone heard of manufacturing jobs coming to Michigan?? It’s not going to happen! Personally, the journalist’s writing and his point-of-view stunk but the photos were amazing. Luckily this isn’t just a one-time, here and gone event as we’ll have the Senior PGA in 2014.