Lends name on 2-year-old developmental tour event
HUNTSVILLE – Huntsville’s two-year-old Korn Ferry Tour stop has a new title sponsor.
Previously known as the Huntsville Championship, officials announced Wednesday that the tournament is now the HomeTown Lenders Championship.
After two years without a title sponsor, HomeTown Lenders, a mortgage brokerage firm with its roots in nearby Hazel Green and now operates nationally, stepped in as the first title sponsor in the tournament’s short history.
HomeTown Lenders CEO Billy Taylor said the values of the PGA Tour and his company are similar. It’s just one of the reasons the company decided to jump in and become the title sponsor.
“We hope that we can carry on the values that were set with the first two years,” Taylor said. “We can’t wait to see how the partnership grows and how the value systems line up with the Korn Ferry Tour and our company. It’s a great day for HomeTown Lenders.”
The tournament will have a 156-player field and a total purse of $1 million. The 2023 tournament dates are April 24-30 at The Ledges.
‘Exciting milestone’ for Huntsville Championship
“It’s is an exciting milestone,” Korn Ferry Tour president Alex Baldwin said. “We are very excited for the Korn Ferry Tour to have a new title sponsor with the HomeTown Lenders Championship here at The Ledges. It is a great opportunity to be able to continue to build on the momentum that has been building over the past two years.”
Baldwin said the community has embraced the tournament and having a title sponsor will allow the KFT to take “this tournament to the next level.”
She said the Huntsville tour stop is already one of the best on tour and with HomeTown Lenders on board, the tournament will have a larger impact on the community.
Taylor said the 2022 event was the first time he was aware of the tournament.
“When we saw the impact it had on the community and the potential impact it could have if it had a corporate sponsor, then we started engaging and having conversations back and forth on how we could help each other,” Taylor said. “It just fit our values, their values and the PGA in general. It made sense as to where we were wanting to go as a company.”
Taylor likes to play golf, but said he is a “hacker.”
“A lot of people in the real estate industry like to play and initially we started looking it as a way to network,” he said. “This opportunity presented itself right here in our back yard and then we started talking to them.
An alignment of values
“What really stuck out to us was them leading with values and the values of the Korn Ferry Tour giving people a structured opportunity to make their dreams come true. Without this, it’s harder to make it to the PGA Tour.”
Baldwin said the success of players such as Scottie Scheffler, Will Zalatoris and Cam Young has taken the Korn Ferry Tour’s popularity to new heights. Both previous Huntsville Championship winners – Paul Barjon (2021) and Harrison Endycott (2022) – went on to earn PGA Tour cards.
“It really has brought an awakening and an understanding of what the Korn Ferry Tour has to offer as that future kind of pathway of the next generation of PGA Tour stars,” she said. “We’re at a point right now where the interest in our tour, from brands and at the corporate level, hasn’t been higher.”
Baldwin said that going into 2023, the KFT has 25 title sponsors out of 26 events. That’s up from 15 in 2019.
“We’re on a high and we’re driving with a lot of great momentum,” she said. “It’s a testament to the quality and caliber of players we are seeing out there.”
Gregg Dewalt is the editor of Alabama Golf News
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