Mackenzie Tour “Staals” In Thunder Bay – PGA TOUR Canada Event Ends

The Staal Foundation charity cheque from the 2018 Staal Foundation Open - more than $189,000 raised. (Photo: Staal Foundation)

It’s been a heck of a run, but it’s over.

One of the most successful events on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada, when you consider attendance and charitable contributions, will not return for 2019.

News comes today that the Staal Foundation Open, held in Thunder Bay, Ontario since 2014 at the Whitewater Golf Club, will be discontinued.

A statement released by the tournament’s organizations, the TOUR, and the Staal Family shared the details on the conclusion of the tournament but did not cite reasons for it. Thunder Bay local website www.tbnewswatch.com is reporting that, “organizers cite the amount of work and number of volunteers needed as one reason for ending the tournament.”

In 2018 the event raised more than $189,000 for local groups in need. That amount topped $270,000 in 2017.

“Events like the Staal Foundation Open require a huge amount of work and dedication on the part of the organizers, sponsors and volunteers,” said Walter Flasza, Board Chair of the Thunder Bay Golf Classic in the joint release with the Mackenzie Tour. “After five very successful years and over $1 million raised for local charities, it is clear to the Board and our partners that the event has accomplished a lot for the region for which we are all proud.”

“We are extremely proud of what the event has meant to the city of Thunder Bay and the region,” said Henry Staal of the Staal Family Foundation. “Our family has enjoyed being involved with the Mackenzie Tour and helping kids across the region for the last five years, and even though the tournament is ending we will continue to support youth and cancer initiatives in the area.”

Attracting up to 14,000 spectators annually with a mix of hockey celebrity provided by the Staal brothers and friends, along with deep community involvement, the Staal Foundation Open was able to generate an outstanding level of funds for local charities, the highest by any Mackenzie Tour event during the course of the annual schedule.

As their part of the release the Mackenzie Tour’s comments were fairly benign.

“We would like to thank the Staal Family, all the volunteers, sponsors and the entire community of Thunder Bay for everything they have done for our players over the last five years,” said Jeff Monday, President, Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada. “The Staal Foundation Open was an annual highlight for our players, and we truly appreciate the privilege it was to conduct such a great tournament in the area.”

In 2018 the TOUR had 12 events on their schedule and increased their purses, although a 13th planned event, the Cape Breton Open was cancelled due to sponsorship issues.

While the Mackenzie TOUR itinerary has fluctuated a bit since the PGA TOUR took over operating the Canadian Tour in November, 2012 it has expanded greatly since the eight event schedule offered that year by the previous regime.

The 2019 Mackenzie TOUR schedule is yet to be released.