On Thursday, August 10 the LPGA Epson Tour held the first round of its 12th annual Four Winds Invitational. 144 of the most promising female golfers from all around the world gathered at South Bend Country Club to take part in a fierce competition as well as raise money for a great cause.
The Four Winds Invitational is a tournament that is part of the Epson Tour, one of the most established women’s qualifying tours in the world. Female athletes take part in the competition to work their way to the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour. For 12 years, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi’s Four Winds Casinos has worked hard as the title sponsor of the competition to shine a spotlight on the city of South Bend and support its fundraising efforts in the community.
“The amount of funds and resources Four Winds has poured into this event for 12 years is incredible. It’s special when a business cares about people and wants to do what’s best for everyone in the community, and Four Winds is definitely that business for South Bend,” said Greg Helmkamp, general manager and head golf professional at South Bend Country Club.
Every year, the funds raised from the event are given to Beacon Children’s Hospital in South Bend so it can purchase more life-saving equipment. In the past 11 years, Four Winds has donated nearly $900,000 to Beacon Children’s Hospital. That money has been used to buy all kinds of life-saving equipment--everything from specific tools for the exam rooms to a new ambulance.
Beacon Children’s Hospital plans to use this year’s donation to purchase devices, including an airway visualization system to help with intubation of patients and resuscitation equipment for infant care.
“At the kickoff dinner, a family shared how their 9-year-old daughter’s life was saved at Beacon Children’s Hospital thanks to the equipment the hospital bought with previous donations from the Four Winds Invitational. There were some tears in the room that night. To see the benefit and the impact this event has on the families and children who use Beacon Children’s Hospital was pretty special,” said Helmkamp.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a golf tournament without some exciting competition. This year’s athletes are more passionate than ever. The invitational began with some traditional practice rounds, but even in their warmups, it was clear the women were eager to win.
“You can tell how important this is to them,” said Helmkamp. “You can see their focus and seriousness and know that we’re in for some competitive days.”
Ultimately, the South Bend Country Club team was excited to be able to host the wonderful event for the third year in a row. It meant a lot to them to be able to represent South Bend and everything it has to offer.
“We’re proud that the LPGA and Four Winds have chosen our golf course for three years in a row to host this professional event. There are a lot of golf courses in the country and very few get to say they host such a big, professional event like this. We’re very proud,” said Helmkamp.
The 12th annual Four Winds Invitational couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. Everyone can’t wait to see how the tournament continues to grow and make a difference in the community for years to come.
“This is all about raising funds for Beacon Children’s Hospital and for the sponsors to come out year after year and continue to support the event is really great. I can’t wait to see that continue. I also just really want the local community to come out and enjoy the tournament. If people have nothing to do on a Friday or Saturday morning we would love for them to come out and watch these girls because they are great at what they do,” said Helmkamp.
To learn more about Four Winds Casinos and how it gives back to the community, visit fourwindscasino.com.