LPGA Explores Annual Denver Event On Heels Of Successful Solheim Cup
LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan on Friday met with Colorado Open Golf Foundation CEO Kevin Laura and Oakwood Homes Chair & CEO Pat Hamill to "kick around the idea of bringing an annual event to Denver," according to Anthony Cotton of the DENVER POST. The LPGA was "on the grounds all week" at Colorado Golf Club during the Solheim Cup. Whan said, "It was just exploratory. They've put a group together that's interested. We'd be looking at 2015 at the earliest." Cotton writes women's golf and Denver have "enjoyed a long flirtation," and after Cherry Hills hosted the U.S. Women's Open in '05 the "time seemed right for a deal to get done." But the momentum "crashed along with the economy." However, Laura said that things are now "in a better place." Still, he said, "Even if we were to get a title sponsor immediately it would probably take a good two years to get set up." Laura added that there were "a number of courses capable of hosting the LPGA, but it's been the CGC that has generated the most buzz nationally." Cotton notes after the '10 Senior PGA Championship, there "was talk of the club being in line to host the PGA Championship, or perhaps even a Ryder Cup." But the downturn of the economy "rocked the club to the point where it came within days of going bankrupt." Whan admitted that the club's financial difficulties "caused some concerns about the viability of holding the Solheim" there, but it "bounced back after being purchased by the membership." Crowds totaling 110,000 for last week's event "spoke to the appetite for golf" at the club (DENVER POST, 8/19).
GROWING THE GAME: Cotton reported one of "the busier pavilions" at the Solheim Cup was the Girls Golf booth, which was a "joint project" of the LPGA and USGA. The Girls Golf program as of three years ago "had about 2,500 participants," but this year it "topped 10,000" with about 260 outlets in the U.S. Whan said that the program has "received a sizable cash influx from the LPGA" (DENVER POST, 8/18).