For the third and perhaps final time, Conway Farms in Lake Forest is getting gussied up to host The BMW Championship golf tournament.
All around the 26-year-old golf club, workers are trimming the grass, erecting tents for VIPs and media, and building bleachers for the thousands of fans expected to flock to the course to watch world-class golf.
The BMW Championship, the third of four FedEx Cup playoff events on the PGA Tour schedule, begins play Thursday and continues through Sunday. The course will host tournament-related events starting Tuesday.
The tournament has been played at Chicago-area golf clubs for much of its existence since it was established in 2007. Its first local home was Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Lemont before shifting to Conway Farms.
Next year, the tournament moves to Pennsylvania, then is expected to return to the suburbs and take place at the Medinah Country Club in 2019.
Vince Pellegrino, the BMW Championship's senior vice president, said organizers have had an incredible experience at Conway Farms and received much support from local leaders in Lake Forest.
"We've been meeting with them over a year every month," Pellegrino said. "They've been very engaged in the process and making sure it is a good experience for spectators."
Pellegrino left open the possibility of returning to Lake County in the future.
"We don't know what the future holds," Pellegrino said.
Even if the BMW Championship doesn't return to Lake County for a while, it is leaving behind lots of ideas, strategies and plans for Lake County community leaders and tourism pros as they prepare to host a pair of professional golf events next year and hope to land others in the years ahead.
The 2018 KPMG Women's PGA Championship will take place at Kemper Lakes Golf Club in Kildeer in June. In July, the Constellation Senior Players Championship will be contested at Exmoor Country Club in Highland Park.
Maureen Riedy, the president of the Visit Lake County tourism bureau, said they've already begun working with Kemper Lakes representatives to collaborate on promoting and organizing next year's LPGA event.
"We plan to do things similar to the BMW Championship, because we already have that successful model in place," Riedy said.
Part of that model is using the county's tourism website as a one-stop information hub for spectators coming in from out of town.
The website offers information on how visitors can buy tickets and parking for the event, as well as what they can do nearby while they're in Lake County.
Riedy said the bureau wants to make sure visitors know that they can find great restaurants and local golf courses they can play when they aren't at the event.
"Major golf tournaments always help shine the spotlight on all the other great golfing available in Lake County," Riedy said. "We have beautiful courses here."
Leaders in Libertyville and Lincolnshire are reaching out to local restaurants, encouraging them to advertise ahead of next year's tournament at Kemper Lakes and to be prepared for more visitors. And hotels near Kildeer already are being booked by visitors who plan to attend the 2018 KPMG Women's PGA Championship.
"For Kemper Lakes next year, we've already seen a lot of hotel pickups from vendors to make sure they've got their housing set up for their people," Riedy said.