Hospital Foundation Donates $110K to Mill Creek Golf Course

A $110,000 donation from the Mahoning Valley Hospital Foundation will name the organization as a four-year title sponsor of the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) tournament held at Mill Creek Golf Course June 18-21.

The foundation presented the check to the Mill Creek MetroParks Foundation on Tuesday. $100,000 of the donation will cover the $25,000 sponsorship of the tournament for the next four years. The remaining $10,000 will go toward two beautification projects at the course entrances at state Route 224 and West Golf Drive.

The Mahoning Valley Hospital Foundation has donated in the past and decided to sponsor the event as it’s increased in popularity, said the organization’s president and CEO, Mike Senchak.

“We felt it was just an unbelievably great event for us to support,” Senchak said. “It gives us an opportunity to showcase our community to the outside world and to those coming into the area. And it really showcases what we believe is one of the greatest assets in this area, Mill Creek MetroParks.”

The weeklong tournament – one of 155 the AJGA holds annually – draws players and their families from all over the world, including Canada, China, Mexico, Columbia and the United Kingdom. Over the next four years, this will create a “financial windfall” for the local economy to the tune of $1.2 to $2 million, he said.

In addition, local players who travel to other tournaments have a chance to play a “home game,” said Brian Tolnar, the MetroPark’s PGA director of golf. “It gives them a chance to play on their home course.”

This is the third year that Mill Creek will host the tournament’s 12- to 15-year-old age group for boys and girls. Per the request of the AJGA, the number of players is increased to 156 from 96 “because our event has been extremely popular,” he said. The waiting list for the event has consistently had more than 70 kids, he said.

Canada’s Taylor Kehoe, 13, was last year’s girls champion, and 15-year-old Maxwell Moldovan of Uniontown, Ohio was the tournament’s first ever back-to-back boys champion in the 12-to-15 age group.

“When you think of all the people who’ve played in this tournament, like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, it’s amazing they haven’t had a back-to-back winner before,” Tolnar said. “He had half the Big 10 here recruiting him.”

Tolnar credits the community for the success of the event. In addition to the 120-plus volunteers that come out each year, support from organizations like the Mahoning County Convention & Visitors Bureau, which donates each year, and the Mahoning Valley Hospital Foundation make the event possible, he said.

In addition to the sponsorship donation, the hospital foundation has helped to fund the course’s scoreboard and course improvement projects among other donations.

“He [Senchak] has been extremely generous since I’ve been here,” Tolnar said. “His group plays here every Saturday morning. They’re the first tee time off.”

There’s a chance to add the 16- to 18-year-old age group to the tournament, he says, but will need another $25,000 sponsorship to make that happen. “The only thing we’re lacking there is a sponsorship.”

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