Sanford International focuses on improvements in second year

In 59 days Sioux Falls’ vision to victory makes a return to Minnehaha Country Club.

“They’ve been ecstatic with everything we did, so it’s been fun to do it all over again," said Sanford International Tournament Director Greg Conrad.

As the Sanford International preps for its second year, that means more fans, more fundraising, and more expectations.

“I think because it’s year two, you feel a little bit more of the expectations of the community. Our mantra this year is hey it’s your destination, your story, your tournament and we want to give the tournament back to Sioux Falls," said Conrad.

But it’s a new 116 page book called "Vision to Victory" that reflects on last year’s tournament. It's inspiring staff to make the event that much better this year.

“This was the first ever professional golf tournament in South Dakota, so we felt like it was important to commemorate that moment in time and going all the way back to when Sanford, and Kelby and Andy North and the PGA Tour envisioned this. We’ve used this a lot in planning for this year’s tournament. We’ll go back and look at some photographs and see that we could change and make Sioux Falls look a little better," said Conrad.

With less than two months before the players hit the links, Conrad says the main focus is making improvements for a better player and fan experience.

“So increasing the grandstand by 30%, increasing the restrooms by 30%, creating more access points for everybody, and our merchandise with Austad’s is going to be substantially more so we’re excited about that," said Conrad.

The positive feedback that was received though is driving the staff to make 2019’s event even better.

“I had a lot of players compare this to a smaller PGA Tour event. During the legends series, I had a couple players come to me and say this feels like a U.S. Open, with the holes completely surrounded with people, so we’ve been very blessed with that," said Conrad.

Of the 78 players that competed last year, Conrad expects nearly every single one of them to be returning. Many more names will be released in the coming weeks. Those who aren't returning either did not qualify or have conflicts in their schedules.

“I think people will be really pleased with the player field, and we expect to have 45 of the top 50 players in the world here, so I think that’s a pretty good statement," said Conrad.

Jack Nicklaus will also be returning, after being a supporter with Sanford Hospitals.

“We started to look at all the photographs we realized how many great shots we had and just the cool crowd. You’ll notice there’s a tweet of Jack Nicklaus with a huge crowd behind him and he said do you ever feel like you’re being watched," said Conrad.

Millions will be watching Sioux Falls again this year, hundreds of thousands will be in attendance, which makes South Dakota’s vision to victory even more special.

“I used to go out and recruit players and encourage them to come, well this time around I didn’t have to recruit, they came to me and said hey I wanted to be here," said Conrad.

Another addition this year will be an app for fans to navigate the course better and an up to second leader board. Local college students, military members, and first responders will also receive free admission with a valid ID. The tournament week begins Monday, September 16th.