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GRAFTON - The seventh annual Mississippi Masters Golf Tournament will return to the Riverbend on Friday, April 26, 2024.

Golfers from around the region are expected to play in the four-person scramble, with four flights and many prizes for every player to enjoy. Registration costs $360 per team and all proceeds go back to the Grafton Chamber of Commerce to fund their programs.

“It’s startup money for all the projects that we have throughout the year,” explained Dan Ebbing, the chamber president. “The money goes back to the community…Everybody’s working together because everybody knows they need to work together to make all of Grafton work.”

Over the years, Ebbing said the money has gone to fund Christmas decorations, events like the upcoming Sip, Sample and Stroll, and more. The Chamber of Commerce aims to support Grafton businesses and bring more people to the city, and the money from the Mississippi Masters tournament helps them do this.

In the meantime, the tournament itself promises a lot of fun, said The Loading Dock owner Peter Allen. Allen, who helped organize the event, noted that the goal is to get people excited about Grafton while enjoying a day of golf.

“That was kind of the first idea, to build camaraderie and goodwill and promote Grafton and Lockhaven,” he said. “The bottom line is it’s fun and most of the players mark their calendars for the next year for it, so we’re happy about that.”

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The registration fee includes food, drinks — Allen promises every player will walk away with “at least” a six-pack — and the golfing itself. Ebbing will man the grills, and Allen looks forward to helping people get checked in and ready to go at 11 a.m.

But as soon as they hit the 1 p.m. shotgun start, the competition is on. The first prize for the A flight is $600, and other prizes and a lucrative 50/50 drawing will be available.

“Lots of big money prizes,” Allen noted. “100% of the skins goes back to the field. We’ve got lots of random prizes for close to the hole, long drives, other contests. It’s a good tournament. It’s a good tournament to win and sometimes there’s some side bets here and there too.”

Allen said the Mississippi Masters tournament is one of his favorites, and he can’t wait to get on the green. But it’s a big weekend at The Loading Dock, too, as April 27 and 28 will kick off the business’s first Riverside Flea Market of the season. This flea market draws in thousands of people from across the region.

The flea market and the Mississippi Masters Golf Tournament both speak to a larger theme of community in Grafton. Allen and Ebbing are excited to welcome new faces and old to the golf tournament and the city.

“That usually kicks off the spring for The Loading Dock and hopefully the town of Grafton,” Allen added. “All of the businesses work together, and I love that. It’s not competitive because, for people that come to Grafton, it’s a destination. They’ve driven 30 miles minimum to get there, so they’re going to spend the day in Grafton and not just go to one place. So it spreads around.”

For more information about the Mississippi Masters Golf Tournament, including how to register as a player or sponsor, visit GraftonILChamber.com.

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