The Champions Tour will announce on Friday that the 2011 Senior Players Championship will be headed to a familiar venue to many players, Westchester Country Club in Harrison, N.Y.
Though the Senior Players, one of five Champions Tour majors, will be the first senior event held at Westchester, the club was once a popular stop on the PGA Tour, as host of the tournament now known as the Barclays from 1967-2007. Held in the fall in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area the previous four years, the 2011 Senior Players will be played August 18-21.
The arrival of the Senior Players also marks an end to a complicated chapter in the PGA Tour's history with Westchester. When the tour introduced the FedEx Cup playoffs, the decision was made to rotate the Barclays throughout other parts of the metropolitan area in hopes of capitalizing on the New York market. In an original deal with the club, Westchester was to host the Barclays three times between 2007 and 2012, and played at alternate venues the other three years. An unsuccessful playoff debut at the club in 2007 -- which Tiger Woods famously opted against playing -- led the tour to move the event from the club earlier than expected. It has been played the last three years in northern New Jersey, and will be played in 2011 at another respected New Jersey layout, Plainfield Country Club.
In the wake of the tour's abrupt 2008 depature from Westchester, a revised deal was reached that stated the Barclays would return to the club one more time, in 2012. According to sources, the tour notified the club earlier this fall that the Barclays would in fact not be returning to Westchester, although it did still plan to fulfill its financial obligations. The option was then presented to the tour to bring the Senior Players to Westchester instead.
Given the Walter Travis layout's popularity with many in the 50-and-over set, and the reduced amount of set-up time needed to host a Champions Tour tournament -- four weeks as opposed to the seven weeks needed to host the Barclays -- the club agreed to the new arrangement.
If the Senior Players is to be played at Westchester beyond 2011, it would only be on a rotational basis.
*-- Sam Weinman *