Principal in, Glen Oaks out for Champions Tour

Graham Marsh makes his way to the 17th green during the first round of the 2002 Champions Tour's Allianz Championship at Glen Oaks Country Club in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Graham Marsh makes his way to the 17th green during the first round of the 2002 Champions Tour's Allianz Championship at Glen Oaks Country Club in West Des Moines, Iowa.

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DES MOINES, Iowa — The Principal Financial Group will remain the title sponsor of the Champions Tour event in Iowa through 2015, even though it needs to find a new golf course to host the tournament.

Principal announced Tuesday that it has signed a three-year deal to stay on as the main sponsor, but Glen Oaks general manager Bill Kirkendall said the club won’t host the event in 2013. Tournament organizers said they are exploring other courses in greater Des Moines, home of Principal’s headquarters.

Principal senior vice president and tournament board chairman Mary O’Keefe said the company was in discussions to remain as sponsor even before it found out Glen Oaks was out, citing the event’s popularity and its success raising money for children’s charities.

“We think it’s an event and a community happening that should stay in central Iowa,” O’Keefe said. “We feel this is an event that we can find a new home for.”

Kirkendall told The Associated Press that the club simply felt it was time to walk away after hosting the event 11 times.

“We’ve had a great run,” Kirkendall said. “There’s so many great venues in Des Moines. It’s just a good time for another club or another venue to have the opportunity to be the host.”

Glen Oaks, in West Des Moines, was purchased by a group of local investors in late 2010 and has gone through renovations. It has hosted every Champions Tour event but one since the circuit began visiting Iowa in 2001 and has typically been thought of as among the most popular stops on the Champions Tour.

Kirkendall wouldn’t rule out hosting the tournament at some point in the future.

“It’s kind of like Thanksgiving after you’ve eaten at . . . your house for 11 years. You look over at your sister and say ‘Why don’t we eat at your house next year,’” Kirkendall said. “It’s been terrific for Glen Oaks Country Club, and we’re proud we’ve been a part of it.”

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