The scuttlebutt surrounding possible new LPGA events for 2014 includes a common theme: They’re domestic.
Mike Whan’s top objective since the start of his tenure as LPGA commissioner in late 2009 has been to strengthen the tour’s schedule, most notably the number of U.S. events. With long-standing tournaments such as the Safeway Classic in Portland, Ore., on year-to-year contracts and new tournaments such as the one in Texas on shaky footing, it’s an annual struggle to make players and fans happy about the number of times the U.S.-based tour actually tees it up in the U.S.
But Golfweek has learned that a new event near Grand Rapids, Mich., is close to being finalized for next August. Meijer, a hypermarket chain based in Grand Rapids, is slated to be the title sponsor, and Blythefield Country Club in Belmont the event’s host. Though not an official LPGA event, the Meijer Charity Classic Pro-Am in Grand Rapids has attracted many players for years.
Blythefield opened in 1929 and hosted the 1953 Western Amateur, 1961 Western Open and 2005 Western Junior. Dale Morey, Arnold Palmer and Rickie Fowler won those three events, respectively.
Another possibility for 2014 comes as a bit of a shock: Nantucket. There’s an island few LPGA insiders would’ve considered. But hey, no complaints here. September in Nantucket, a.k.a. “Shoulder Season,” means 70-degree temps and lower prices.
Miacomet Golf Club, the island’s only public facility, would be the future site. (Miacomet and LPGA officials met in late August.) Owned by Nantucket Island Land Bank, the course is located on a portion of the island once inhabited by Native Americans. Miacomet means “the meeting place.”
Speaking of islands, the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic might move to a late January slot next season, giving the LPGA a much-needed start on this side of the world before Phoenix in March.
During this year’s inaugural event in May, players were spotted fishing from the fairways early week as a massive storm left the aptly named Ocean Club underwater. The tournament was shortened to three 12-hole rounds.