What a year 2016 has been for Women’s Golf! We have seen Minjee Lee win twice on the LPGA Tour, Su Oh have a breakout year securing her full card for 2017, Sarah Jane Smith having the best season of her career and Karrie Webb fighting off the disappointment of not making the Australian Olympic Team to record a top 5 finish at the Ricoh Women’s British Open. To have 4 women in the top 60 on the strongest tour in the world is quite an achievement when you consider that we only have around 16 full-time touring professionals!
While our players will kick back now and take a well-earned break, plans are well and truly underway for the 2017 ALPG Tour.
The first official ranking event of the ALPG 2016-17 tour, the Anita Boon ALPG Pro-am at North Shore Golf Club in Auckland has already been completed, being played on 17th and 18th November. Kiwi Jenna Hunter played some very impressive golf in tough conditions to take her maiden ALPG title at her home club, picking up the largest cheque on offer at an ALPG tour pro-am in the 2016/2017 season. A big thank you to our compatriots in NZ, the NZPWG for putting on such a great event!
The 2017 ALPG Club Car Series will kick off at the beautiful Castle Hill Country Club on 17th January, where the Mulpha Norwest ALPG Pro-am will be played for prizemoney of $25,000. This will be the first event on the tour for our 2017 International Members, as they and our ALPG members attempt to qualify for our 2017 major events, including the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
The crew at Castle Hill Country Club are great friends of the ALPG, we have been working together for a few of years now with a view to bringing a major international women’s tournament to Sydney.
Unfortunately, government have not been as generous with funding as they are to our male counterparts but this is something that we hope will change in the future. We just need to keep knocking down those doors!
For the past three years, our friends at Castle Hill Renault and Power Ford have been kind enough to supply us with vehicles to get us to our NSW Pro-ams so big thanks to them for their ongoing support.
The tour then travels down the M2 to the rolling hills of Pennant Hills GC for the Goldkey Financial ALPG Pro-am. This will be the third successive year that an ALPG Pro-am has been staged at Pennant Hills GC, where the players will be playing a 36-hole event on 19th and 20th January for $30,000. Last year we had horrendous luck with the weather and were very fortunate in the end to get one round completed, let’s hope for better weather in 2017!
From Pennant Hills we head 10 minutes down the road to a very familiar venue for the ALPG, the beautiful Oatlands Golf Club just outside Parramatta. Home for nine years to the Bing Lee Fujitsu NSW Women’s Open, Oatlands is a championship course with a reputation for some of the best and most tricky greens the professionals will play on all year. The players love coming back to Oatlands each year, in 2017 we will once again be playing a 36 hole pro-am for $30,000 and I am sure we can expect another quality field.
After Oatlands, the ALPG takes a break over the Australia Day weekend, which will give our members an opportunity to spend the weekend at home with their families, and our International visitors the opportunity to witness the Australia Day celebrations in Sydney which we all know is not to be missed.
The Tour then heads up to Queensland’s magnificent Gold Coast where we will have a new event on our schedule in 2017, the ALPG Hope Island pro-am. This event will be held on 30th January at the Links Hope Island Golf Club for prizemoney of $25,000. This is the first time that ALPG has played an event at Hope Island, and we are all very excited about our association with such a great venue.
The players will then make very good use of a couple of days off to hit the beaches, do some shopping or attend one of the many Gold Coast theme parks, before hitting the fairways of RACV Royal Pines Resort where we will play the inaugural RACV Gold Coast Challenge from 2nd – 4th February 2017.
This event will see an exciting new format, the first two days will see 2 professionals and 2 amateurs paired together competing in a team event, which will be played concurrently with the tournament proper. This will give the amateur players a unique opportunity to get an up-close and personal experience of playing alongside women professional golfers as they compete in a professional golf tournament.
The final round will see the leading fifty professionals battle it out for prizemoney of a minimum of $150k. Already we have commitments from ALPG stars Sarah Jane Smith, Katherine Kirk, Rebecca Artis, Sarah Kemp and Stacey Keating, along with former world number Jiyai Shin, legend Dame Laura Davies and Canadian star Lorie Kane.
From the sunny Gold Coast, the ALPG heads south to another jewel in the crown of Australian Golf, the magnificent 13th Beach Resort in Barwon Heads for the 2017 Oates Victorian Open.
This tournament continues to go from strength to strength each year, thanks to a wonderful title sponsor in Oates and fantastic support from both the State government in Victoria and the City of Geelong. We have seen the prizemoney continue to grow for both the men and the women's events, two years ago they were each playing for $150,000, in 2017 both the men and the women will be competing for a minimum of $500,000. Golf Victoria have done an outstanding job with this event and have created something really special that the players, stakeholders and fans alike all love being a part of.
Watch this space we may see some big names committing to the women’s event in the near future!
From the Bellarine Peninsula, the tour heads to the “City of Churches” for the pinnacle of the ALPG Tour, the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. In 2017 the tournament will be held at the magnificent Royal Adelaide Golf Club, where 22 years ago a fresh-faced Annika Sorenstam claimed her first professional victory, before going on to be arguably the most successful women golfer in history. The tournament will be played from 16th -19th February for prizemoney of US$1.3 million, and will boast many of the world’s leading players including defending champion Japanese star Haru Nomura and world number 1 Lydia Ko.
It is certainly exciting for the ladies to be playing such a prestigious event here in Australia for this level of prizemoney, and quite unique in the sporting world for the women’s event to carry a higher level of prizemoney that the men’s equivalent.
In saying this the women’s event will attract a world class field which is a direct benefit of having the powerhouse that is the USLPGA Tour as a sanctioning partner.
Golf Australia has done a wonderful job in securing a three-year deal to play the Open in Adelaide, in 2016 the tournament was held at The Grange Golf Club and was a great success, in 2018 the tournament will be played at Kooyonga GC.
Following the completion of our 2016 major tournaments, the tour will back to Queensland where the 2017 Club Car Series will resume at McLeod Country Golf Club for the 2017 Brisbane International. The pro-am will be played over two days on the 21st and 22nd of February, with day two being the professional individual event played for a purse of $30,000. Our friends at McLeod Country Golf Club hope that the pro-am will prove to be a stepping stone to bring a major women’s professional tournament to Brisbane sometime in the future.
The final event of the 2017 Club Car Series and the ALPG Tour for 2017 will be the BWAC Employment and Community Services pro-am at the spectacular Yamba G&CC on the Northern NSW Coast. This will be the fourth edition of the pro-am and without a doubt it is one of the most popular venues for our members and visitors with its pristine beaches and holiday atmosphere. The course itself at Yamba is truly of championship standard, if the wind gets up it can be a very tough test of golf!. The pro-am will be played on the 24th February for a purse of $20,000 after which the winner of the 2017 ALPG Club Car Series will be crowned!
I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all of our host clubs and sponsors for their support of the ALPG Club Car Series, along with RACV for their sponsorship of the RACV Gold Coast Challenge, Oates and the Victorian Government for their ongoing support of the Oates Victorian Open, ISPS for their sponsorship of the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open and Golf Australia and Golf Victoria for their support of women’s golf in Australia
Also huge thanks to Kevin Gates and Club Car for their continued support of the ALPG Club Car Series.
We look forward to seeing you at one or more of our events in 2017. If you are interested in playing in any of our pro-ams or plan to come to watch one of our major events please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to be in the running to win some great prizes throughout the year, go to our website http://alpg.com.au/friends.php and join our “Friends of the ALPG” It costs nothing to join!
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