SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – The sport of golf takes center stage in Sioux Falls this week ahead of the start of the Sanford International.

More than 70 of the world’s best golfers over the age of 50 will tee off Friday for a 54-hole competition wrapping up Sunday. This is the sixth year of the Sanford International and the tournament will remain at MCC through at least 2027 after a contract extension was announced in June. 

Here’s what you need to know if you plan to attend the Professional Golfers Association TOUR Champions event at the Minnehaha Country Club golf course.

When can the public attend? 

The course is open to the public starting at 7 a.m. Thursday with free admission. Morning and afternoon groups will be participating in the EMC Pro-Am with gates closing at 6 p.m.  

On Friday, the professional golfers will start play at 10:40 a.m. with gates opening at 8 a.m. The Opening Ceremony is set for 10 a.m. from the first tee box and gates will close at 4:30 p.m. 

On Friday night, Jake Owen will play a concert at the Sanford Pentagon. Doors for the concert open at 6 p.m. and opening performances by John Daly and Jocko Deal are planned to start at 7:30 p.m. 

On Saturday, gates open at 8 a.m. and close at 5 p.m., while on Sunday gates open at 8 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. Other events on Saturday include sunrise yoga 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. on the 18th Fairway, while the Contest of Champions BBQ takes place at 5 p.m.

Tournament officials encourage fans to watch the action “parade style” or “cross-country” style. “Parade style” is where fans pick a certain spot or hole on the golf course to watch the field pass through, where “cross-country” style would be following a specific player or group around each hole on the golf course. 

There will be a new 50-50 raffle with half of the proceeds going to the Sanford Children’s Hospital. The goal is raise $50,000 and you can buy tickets online.

Who has won the Sanford International?

There’s been four different winners in five years of the Sanford International. Steve Stricker won the event in 2018 and 2022, while Rocco Mediate won in 2019, Miguel Angel Jimenez won in 2020 and Darren Clarke won in 2021. Jimenez carded the lowest champion score at -14 in 2020, while Stricker won last year’s event with a -6. 

Stricker, Mediate, Jimenez and Clarke will all be in action this year. You can see the full field of players at the following link.

Other notable players with past major championships include John Daly, David Duval, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk and Bernhard Langer.

Sioux Falls native Ryan Jansa will also be competing in this year’s tournament. Jansa holds the state record for the most South Dakota Golf Association amateur state titles with eight. 

A total of 78 players will compete for $2 million in prize money. First place will win $300,000. Live coverage of the Sanford International will happen Friday through Sunday 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. CT and be broadcasted on the Golf Channel. 

Sanford International drinks and treats

Fernson Brewing Company makes a special beer only for the event called The Wedge, Kolsch easy-drinking beer. Stensland Family Farms makes a lemon-cheesecake based ice cream called the Sanford Swirl and 605 BBQ makes a More Cowbell Brisket Sandwich (chopped brisket in between a glazed Flyboy donut topped with sweet and spicy raspberry chipotle BBQ sauce). 

New this year will be a Coffea Roasterie will have a tent serving fresh brewed coffee and espresso drinks.  

The Sanford International is a cashless event and all major credit cards will be accepted at all concession locations. 

How much are tickets? 

Admission is free for active, reserve, Veteran and retired U.S. Military personnel as well as all first responders. All you need to do is show a military or first responder ID at one of the entrances of the tournament. A wristband will also allow for people part of those groups and one guest to receive complimentary food and beverages at the Military & First Responders Outpost located on Hole No. 17. 

Any child age 15 and under receives complimentary admission with a ticketed adult. Tickets for any day ground access is $25, a Friday ground pass is $20, while a weekly pass is $50 for all three days of the tournament. 

The family package is $80, which includes two Saturday and Sunday ground tickets and a $20 food & beverage voucher.  

The PREMIER Club Friday, Saturday or Sunday is $300 to use the hospitality venue between holes 10 & 18. That area offers open seating, complimentary food & full bar service, private restrooms and Flat Screen TVs.

You can purchase tickets online on the tournament website or by calling (605) 229-9689. 

Where to park/get to the golf course 

The main entrance for the tournament is located on 22nd Street. Tournament officials encourage all fans and volunteers to use free parking at the Empire Mall with free shuttles giving eight-minute rides to the main entrance. ADA parking and shuttles are available at the Sherman Park Softball Complex.  

Parking at the Empire Mall is at the old Sears and Younkers parking lots and bus shuttles will run every 10 to 15 minutes between the parking lots and MCC. 

Shuttle times are Thursday (6 a.m. to 7 p.m.), Friday (6 a.m. to 7 p.m.), Saturday (6 a.m. to 9 p.m.) and Sunday (6 a.m. to 7 p.m.). 

For Uber and Lyft rideshares, pickups and dropoffs for fans are located at Parking Lot A, which is Upper Sherman Park just off the intersection of 22nd St. and Kiwanis Ave. 

Bag policy

Any bag larger than a 6-inch by 6-inch purse, which includes carrying cases, backpacks, camera bags and chair bags, are not allowed. Allowed bags include small purses (smaller than 6x6x6), see-through clear bags (12x6x12), 1-gallon plastic freezer bag and medically necessary or diaper bags. 

Cell phone policy 

Smartphones and cell phones are allowed into the Sanford International, but fans will need to have phones be on silent at all times and the flash may not be used. Fans can take photos, video and audio throughout the tournament but it can only be used for personal uses like social media. 

Phone calls are allowed in designated areas and officials ask fans to be respectful of ongoing play. Failure to comply with policies may result in removal and voided tickets.

What to wear

Keep an eye on the forecast. The latest forecast from KELOLAND Live Doppler HD Storm Center shows warmer temperatures for Thursday with highs at 84 degrees. Friday is looking a high of 80 degrees, while Saturday and Sunday highs are expected to be 76 degrees. There’s a chance of rain Thursday and Friday. 

Tournament officials ask fans to wear comfortable shoes and clothing in anticipation of walking throughout the golf course.

The Minnehaha Country Club golf course

Minnehaha County Club Ground Superintendent David Swift said the golf course is looking to be in great shape ahead of the tournament despite a dry summer in Sioux Falls.

The country club uses around 28 million gallons of water during an average year. That number is expected to be higher this year because of the dry spring and summer. The course gets it water from two wells tapped into aquifers on the course grounds.

“We want it to play difficult. But not extremely difficult. But difficult but fair. And a firm surface helps us achieve that,” Swift said.

An agronomist with the PGA works with Swift to ensure the course meets the necessary standards to host some of the best golfers in the world.