GRAND RAPIDS – Professional tour golf has returned to Michigan.
The LPGA announced today the newly created $1.5 million Meijer LPGA Classic will be played for the first time Aug. 7-10 at Blythefield Country Club in Grand Rapids.
It will be the first LPGA Tour event in Michigan since 2000 when the Oldsmobile Classic in East Lansing ended a nine-year run, and the first annual major tour event since 2009 when the PGA Tour last stopped for the Buick Open in Grand Blanc. Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Jaycees previously hosted a Champions Tour event from 1986-2004.
Since 2009 only championships conducted by the PGA of American and United States Golf Association have made periodic visits to the state. This year’s golf schedule will include the 75th Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores, May 22-25, in Benton Harbor. The 73rd Senior PGA was played there in 2012.
“The Midwest has a great history when it comes to women’s golf and we are truly excited to partner with a company like Meijer to bring the LPGA Tour back to the state of Michigan,” LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan said.
Grand Rapids-based Meijer, which has been involved in golf sponsorship for charity events and tour events for several years, will make the driving mission of the tournament to help feed the hungry via the retailer’s “Simply Give” program. Simply Give has generated more than $6.5 million or 39 million meals for food pantries over the last five years in the 204 communities where Meijer has stores.
“We are pleased to partner with the LPGA to continue our fundamental philosophy of strengthening the communities where our customers and team members work and live,” Meijer President J.K. Symancyk said.
Mike Nichols, the chief business officer for the LPGA-owned Symetra Tour and the former vice-president of tournament business affairs for the LPGA Tour, is credited by Ricki Lasky, the current vice-president of tournament business affairs, for playing a major role in the event coming to Grand Rapids. Nichols has a long history working with major tour events, including working as an executive director in Grand Rapids for previous tour events.
Octagon Global Events, a division of Octagon, the world’s largest sports and entertainment representation and marketing agency, will manage the tournament. It currently manages two Champions Tour events, two LPGA Tour events and the Toyota Texas Bass Classic.
Blythefield is a private golf club with a rich golf history, including hosting events. The PGA Tour’s 1961 Western Open was won by Arnold Palmer at Blythefield, which has also hosted the 1953 Western Amateur and the 2005 Western Junior won by current PGA Tour star Rickie Fowler. Several Michigan PGA and Golf Association of Michigan and West Michigan amateur tournaments and qualifiers have also been hosted by Blythefield over the years.
“The passionate membership of Blythefield Country Club is honored to be selected by generous community leader Meijer to partner on this important initiative, Simply Give,” said Patti Butcher, the director or golf and club operations at Blythefield and the 2010 LPGA National Golf Professional of the Year.
“We look forward to partnering with the LPGA in offering the greater golf community the opportunity to experience the 144 best women golfers in the world.”
Friday, Nov. 8, 2013