AmFam - Stricker Couples walking up 18.jpg

Steve Stricker, left, and Fred Couples enjoy a light moment as they walk up the 18th fairway on Sunday.

Wisconsin.Golf photo/Jim Kelsh

The American Family Insurance Championship has become a big deal in the two years it has been on the PGA Tour Champions schedule.

Huge crowds. Strong fields. And, of course, Steve Stricker as the event's host.

In 2018, the 54-hole event will serve as the prelude to the final three major championships of the year on the tour. The PGA Tour announced Wednesday morning that the Am Fam Championship will be played June 22 through 24 at University Ridge GC in Madison — the week before the U.S. Senior Open at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

That will trigger a run of senior majors into the month of July. After the U.S. Senior Open, the Constellation Senior Players Championship will be played at Exmoor CC in Highland Park, Illinois, and the Senior Open Championship returns to the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland.

"Are you kidding? The first time the Champions are playing the Old Course!" Madison golfer Jerry Kelly exclaimed in a PGA Tour video breaking down the new schedule.

Fred Couples will be the defending champion at the 2018 Am Fam Championship, which marks the end of its initial three-year contract with the PGA Tour and University Ridge GC. Tournament officials acknowledged after the 2017 event that they were exploring options for future events that could include taking the tournament to other venues in Wisconsin, however nothing has yet been announced by American Family Insurance or the PGA Tour.

The Am Fam Championship was one of 27 official tournaments and two “Challenge Season” events announced Wednesday.

The 24-event regular season will again give way to the third annual Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs, which will be used to determine the season-long Charles Schwab Cup champion. The PGA Tour Champions will contest events in three countries and 20 states, with total prize money of $56.6 million.

The 2018 season will feature two new events, with The Ally Challenge marking the PGA Tour’s return to Warwick Hills G&CC in Grand Blanc, Mich. -- site of the old PGA Tour Buick Open -- the week of September 10-16. The Sanford International contested the following week (September 17-23) at Minnehaha Country Club in Sioux Falls, S.D.

In addition to the new tournaments in Grand Blanc and Sioux Falls, the Tour will welcome two new title sponsors to the 2018 schedule – Exact Sciences and Rapiscan.

“We are excited to welcome Ally Financial, Sanford Health, Exact Sciences and Rapiscan Systems to the PGA TOUR family, beginning in the 2018 season,” PGA Tour Champions President Greg McLaughlin said in a statement. “PGA Tour Champions benefits greatly from our many corporate partners and stakeholders, and through their engagement and accessibility, our players deliver tremendous value for our titles sponsors and fans during tournament week.”

Exact Sciences announced Tuesday its title sponsorship of the PGA Tours’s longtime stop in Tucson, which began with the Tucson Open from 1945 through 2006 before becoming an official PGA Tour Champions event in 2015. The Cologuard Classic will be held at Omni Tucson Resort the week of February 26-March 4, which is two weeks earlier than the tournament’s traditional mid-March date in conjunction with the start of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

Rapiscan Systems will assume the title sponsorship of the annual stop at Fallen Oak Golf Club in Biloxi, Miss. The Rapiscan Systems Classic will be contested in late March.

In addition to the new tournaments and title sponsors, seven PGA Tour winners will turn 50 in 2018 and begin play on PGA Tour Champions, highlighted by 2011 Open Championship winner Darren Clarke.

Clarke, who competed in five Ryder Cups and captained the 2016 European Team to victory, will turn 50 on August 14. The three-time Tour winner headlines a rookie class that also includes Chris DiMarco, Dudley Hart, Robert Gamez and Brent Geiberger.

The Am Fam Championship recently opened registration for volunteers looking to help with the 2018 champion. For details, click on the link in this Tweet:

2018 PGA Tour Champions Schedule

Month Dates Tournament TV Course Location Purse
January 15-20 Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai (Saturday finish) GOLF Hualalai Golf Course Ka'upulehu-Kona, HI $1,800,000
February 5-11 Boca Raton Championship GOLF The Old Course at Broken Sound Club Boca Raton, FLÊÊ $1,600,000
12-18 Chubb Classic GOLF The TwinEagles Club (Talon Course) Naples, FL $1,600,000
March 26-4 Cologuard Classic GOLF Omni Tucson National (Catalina Course) Tucson, AZ $1,700,000
5-11 Toshiba Classic GOLF Newport Beach Country Club Newport Beach, CA $1,800,000
TBD Rapiscan Systems Classic GOLF Fallen Oak Biloxi, MS $1,600,000
April 9-15 Mitsubishi Electric Classic GOLF TPC Sugarloaf Duluth, GA $1,800,000
16-22 Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge GOLF Top of the Rock, Mountain Top, Buffalo Ridge Springs Course Ridgedale, MO $1,800,000
May 30-6 Insperity Invitational GOLF The Woodlands Country Club (Tournament Course) The Woodlands, TX (Houston) $2,200,000
14-20 *Regions Tradition GOLF Greystone Golf & Country Club Birmingham, AL $2,400,000
21-27 *KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship GOLF/NBC Harbor Shores Benton Harbor, MI $3,000,000
June 4-10 Principal Charity Classic GOLF Wakonda Club Des Moines, IA $1,750,000
18-24 American Family Insurance Championship GOLF University Ridge Golf Course Madison, WI $2,000,000
25-1 *U.S. Senior Open Championship FS1 The Broadmoor Resort Colorado Springs, CO $4,000,000
July 9-15 *Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship GOLF Exmoor Country Club Highland Park, IL $2,800,000
23-29 *Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex GOLF/SKY/NBC Old Course, St. Andrews Fife, Scotland $2,000,000
Aug 30-5 3M Championship GOLF TPC Twin Cities Blaine, MN (Minneapolis) $1,750,000
13-19 DICK'S Sporting Goods Open GOLF En-Joie Golf Course Endicott, NY $2,050,000
20-26 Boeing Classic GOLF The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge Snoqualmie, WA (Seattle) $2,100,000
27-2 Shaw Charity Classic GOLF Canyon Meadows Golf & Country Club Calgary, AB, Canada $2,350,000
Sept 10-16 The Ally Challenge GOLF Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club Grand Blanc, MI $2,000,000
17-23 Sanford International GOLF Minnehaha Country Club Sioux Falls, SD $1,800,000
24-30 PURE Insurance Championship GOLF Pebble Beach Golf Links and Poppy Hills Golf Course Pebble Beach, CA $2,100,000
Oct 8-14 SAS Championship GOLF Prestonwood Country Club Cary, NC $2,100,000
15-21 Dominion Energy Charity Classic GOLF Country Club of Virginia (James River Course) Richmond, VA $2,000,000
22-28 PowerShares QQQ Championship GOLF Sherwood Country Club Thousand Oaks, CA $2,000,000
Nov 5-11 Charles Schwab Cup Championship GOLF Phoenix Country Club Phoenix, AZ $2,500,000
27-30 PGA TOUR Champions National Qualifying Tournament - Finals TBD TBD $200,000
Challenge Season Events
Jan 12-14 Diamond Resorts Invitational GOLF Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons Resort Orlando Orlando, FL $760,000
Dec 10-16 PNC Father Son Challenge GOLF/NBC Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando, FL $1,085,000
* -- Denotes Major Championship