Ensure Classic starts Monday
Preparations for the Ensure Classic are in full swing.
The eighth annual Ensure Classic at Rock Barn presented by Kia Motors starts Monday and continues through Oct. 3.
More than 80,000 people are expected to attend the event and watch the 78 players vie for the top prize of more than $200,000, not to mention the honor of being named tournament winner.
Although the event starts Monday, crews were working for weeks to make the Ensure Classic run smoothly.
"We've been building the city for about three weeks now," said Jim Correll, the tournament's executive director. "It's going very well."
Crews set up tents, catering stands, drink machines and other amenities to prepare for the thousands of people expected at the event throughout the week.
"If we have good weather, I think we'll exceed our (attendance) expectations," Correll said. "And when you have Fred Couples at your event, that tends to drive up ticket sales."
Some of the people attending the event are legends in the golfing world.
Nine Hall of Famers will be at the Ensure Classic, which is the most the tournament has had in attendance.
Five Hall of Famers, including Bernhard Langer, Tom Kite, Larry Nelson, Nick Price and Hale Irwin, will play on the field; while the four remaining Hall of Famers will be on site during the tournament.
The Ensure Classic is a Champions of Golf tour event and is played on the Jones Course at Rock Barn Golf and Spa in Conover. The course is designed by Robert Trent Jones, according to the tournament's website.
The tournament's new sponsor, Ensure adult nutrition shakes from Abbot, signed on in December. The event, which was started in 2003, was previously known as the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn.
"Ensure is trusted by people who want to get healthy and stay healthy," said Matthew Fisher, Abbot Therapeutic Nutrition division vice president and general manager. "We're pleased to sponsor the Ensure Classic at Rock Barn to encourage people to take charge of their health, so they can continue to enjoy activities like playing golf."
Other partnership sponsors include Duke Energy, Corning Cable Systems, Republic Services and Kia Motors.
Admission to the event Monday is free, and individual ticket prices for Tuesday through Saturday start at $20. Weekly badges cost $50 and are valid all week. Tickets are available for purchase online at www.ensureclassic.com.
Spectator shuttles from the Equestrian Parking Center to the tournament run from 7 a.m. until one hour after the golf rounds end.