KANKAKEE — After more than two years of COVID-19 and its restrictions, Riverside’s 45th Annual Pro-Am Golf Tournament looks to have finally reverted back to its traditional self when it once again took place Friday at Kankakee Country Club.

“The Riverside Pro-Am is really unique since it’s the longest running Pro-Am in the state of Illinois, which is incredible,” Matt McBurnie, vice president of institutional advancement said.

“It really is special this year because the tournament does feel like it’s back to normal.”

This year’s annual tournament featured two unique flights, each with its own style of play and a professional golfer with each foursome. The morning flight (A) highlighted a two-best ball-scoring tournament with foursomes drafted through a blind handicap draw.

Flight (A) golfers needed to have a handicap of 25 or less before teeing off around 7 a.m. They also had a skins contest for cash for the amateur players.

The afternoon flight (B) teed off around 1 p.m. and had a scramble-scoring format while including both sponsored teams and individuals. Flight (A) and (B) each held 19th hole reception and awards at 11:45 a.m. and 6 p.m., respectively.

“It definitely takes a lot to help set up this event,” said Kankakee Country Club committee member and golf pro Mitch Young.

“From the golf operations standpoint, having a morning wave and an afternoon wave it’s kind of a challenge, but we have plenty of experienced staff to overcome that. The Riverside staff and volunteers make it a lot easier and we all work together to create an amazing experience for everyone.”

The decision to hold two separate formats is something the Pro-Am had to do in order to accommodate the high volume of new interest within the tournament over the last few years.

“We had two different formats probably for the last 13-15 years,” Dave Tyson, chairman of the event and avid participant in the tournament for about 40 years, said.

“We’ve just had so many golfers that we finally decided to have a competitive division in the morning and then a scramble in the afternoon because we’ve had so much interest in the tournament. Right now it’s working out very well…everyone seems to be enjoying themselves.”

Out of all the donations and sponsorships, this year’s tournament raised approximately $172,000, all of which will be spent to support the advancement of cancer treatment through radiation therapy.

“We want to do anything to help with our community,” McBurnie said.

“Partnering with Kankakee Country Club is just an obvious one to do an event of this caliber and class. They are such a great partner in doing this and we love to bring people into the Kankakee community that have never been here and show them what we have to offer in our community.

“The other thing that keeps us persistent with this is that it’s just not a golf event,” he added.

“It’s a social event and it has history to it. Every year the proceeds go to impact healthcare in this community and so this year our cause is the advancement of cancer care and soon we will buy a new linear accelerator, the latest advancement in radiation therapy for our cancer institute in Bourbonnais.”

The importance of adding another linear accelerator to Riverside Medical Center was of the utmost importance in the eyes of Riverside’s President and CEO Phil Kambic due to the sheer number of cancer patients who walk through its doors.

“Our cancer center is very busy and sometimes patients get delayed in getting treatment and so we needed a second unit [linear accelerator],” Kambic said.

“They are very expensive, to the tune of around $4 million…and so we are very pleased to be able to bring that type of technology to the Kankakee community.”

Cody is a sports journalist who's been with the Daily Journal since 2020. He's been a sports reporter since his days at the University of Iowa where he graduated in 2019.

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