Thunder Bay

Staal Foundation Open returns to Thunder Bay, Ont.

The annual Staal Foundation Open kicks off Monday at Whitewater Golf Club in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Thunder Bay event boasts big names and big crowds

The Staal Foundation Open annual golf event, hosted by the four Staal brothers, draws thousands of spectators each year. (Mackenzie Tour- Twitter)

The annual Staal Foundation Open kicks off Monday at Whitewater Golf Club in Thunder Bay, Ont. 

The charity event brings a week of entertainment and activities to the city, wrapped around the high-profile golf tournament, which is part of the Mckenzie Tour – a circuit for young, professional golfers aspiring to make it to the PGA Tour. 

Of all the stops on the tour, the Thunder Bay event stands out because it draws exceptional community support, said Scott Smith, director of the Staal Foundation Open. 

"It's the best attended event on the whole Canadian tour," he said.

"So out of 12 events, we raise the most money for charity. We also have the largest infrastructure. And we do have the largest crowds, probably double of the next event." 

Over the past three years, Smith said the event has raised $600,000 for charity.

Celebrity road hockey rumble

While the event is built around golf, Smith said the week is also packed with a wide range of family activities. 

On Monday, the opening ceremony at Whitewater will be followed by an epic road hockey game featuring a long list of big names from the world of sports, including Bobby Orr, Grant Fuhr and Thunder Bay's own Staal brothers. 

"There's about 5,000 people that show up for that," Smith said. 

"It's really a fun day for kids to get autographs and selfies ... Lots of opportunities for the kids to really hang out with a bunch of present and past NHLers."

The 2017 Staal Foundation Open runs from July 10 to July 16.