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This piece is presented by GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness.
Tom and Crystal Van Wyhe have become friends and fans with some of the sport’s best female golfers thanks the Symetra tournament, which marks its third annual stop in Sioux Falls later this month.
The Van Wyhes are among dozens of Sioux Falls-area families to open their homes to golfers for their weeklong visit here as part of the GreatLIFE Challenge.
“Our desire is to help, hopefully, make a better event, make it more successful and be part of the golfing world,” said Tom Van Wyhe, a lifelong golfer and fan of the sport.
The family hosted golfers from California and Texas in 2015 and continues to follow their guests’ success in golf.
“We look at their tournament results week to week and see how they’re doing,” Van Wyhe said. “They were delighted to be here and happy to be part of the event.”
The family had planned to host golfers last year, but both players ended up withdrawing from the tournament. They will return to hosting this year.
“Many of the Symetra players are on a tight budget,” Van Wyhe said, explaining that living with a host family is a significant savings as well as a way to learn more about the community.
“We strive to have dinner together early in the week before the competition begins and to make them feel at home,” he continued. “Symetra works with them to make sure they’re good houseguests and they’re very professional.”
Dozens of families help host, he said, “and most host families really get to know these professional golfers really well and follow them in their career as we have done.”
Players who come back in subsequent years often return to stay with the same family, he said.
The players are “very grateful” for their hosts, said Tom Walsh, GreatLIFE CEO.
“I bet I get at least 50 thank-you cards within a couple weeks of the event,” he said. “And the relationships building between the host families and these young ladies has been something special.”
The GreatLIFE Challenge runs Aug. 31 to Sept. 3 at Willow Run Golf Course.
“It’s a wonderful event for our community, and I encourage everyone to come out and watch these professional golfers perform,” Van Wyhe said. “I think they will be impressed. I’m glad they’re here in town and glad we’re part of the tour.”
Dozens of Sioux Falls-area families open their homes to golfers for their weeklong visit here as part of the GreatLIFE Challenge, creating new fans and friendships.