Hundreds expected in area for golf tournament

HARLINGEN — They’re on their way and they are bringing irons and drivers with them.

Golfers from as many as nine states are expected to descend into the Harlingen area for this weekend’s National Pan American Golf Association Winter Meeting.

About 250 are expected to attend the event, which will be held on three different area golf courses, including Harlingen Country Club, Treasure Hills Golf Course and Rancho Viejo Country Club.

Events start Friday morning with the delegate meeting at the Best Western in Harlingen. About 40 chapters are expected to discuss business matters related to the organization after they are welcomed to the area by Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell. Other hospitality events will follow as the day progresses.

Freddy Elizondo, the vice president of the Harlingen PAGA chapter, is thrilled to have the winter meeting back in the area. It was here in 2014, too.

“We are happy to host it and proud of Harlingen,” Elizondo said. “We are honored to have it here and show them what a great city we have.”

Saturday is when the serious fun starts for most of those headed into town.

Shotgun starts for all flights at all three golf courses are at 8 a.m. Following the tournament, all are expected to gather at Casa de Amistad for dinner, awards and live music by Rudy G & The Texas Tejano Band. Tickets for the evening’s activities are $15 per person, which includes the dinner and dance. Dinner starts at 6:30 p.m.

Those who attend and participate in the golf event don’t just leave some lost golf balls in the water hazards or out of bounds out on the courses.

Harlingen PAGA president Sam Cavazos said all the people who attend leave some big money in the area.

Cavazos said the event brings into the Harlingen area as much as $300,000 to $350,000 into the economy.

“That’s new money that didn’t exist before,” he said.

The next national event for the Pan American Golf Association is set for Oklahoma City in July.

The national organization has been in existence for more than 50 years. Its purpose is to promote golf for men, women and juniors through community involvement and fundraising activities. The National PAGA is established in nine states, with 43 chapters and a membership of more than 2,600.