Inaugural Ginn Open Is Most Expensive Ever On LPGA

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At a cost of more than $9 million, this weekend’s inaugural Ginn Open is said to be the most expensive inaugural event in LPGA history. Real estate developer Bobby Ginn is going all-out, offering the LPGA’s third-richest purse, and plenty of perks, including spending $1 million for post-round concerts on Friday and Saturday nights, headlined by country stars Brooks & Dunn. He’s even paying CBS $250,000 an hour—plus production expenses—for live weekend television coverage (six hours worth).

They’re billing it as “Four Days of Golf and Music” Its the only full-field LPGA event in the state of Florida.

Forty nine of the top fifty players will be there. Ginn ensured the attendance of Annika Sorenstam and Cristie Kerr by signing them to endorsement deals. The tournament also will feature 13-year-old Dakoda Dowd, who was given a sponsor’s exemption to participate because her mother is dying of breast cancer and it is her dying wish to see her daughter play in an LPGA event.

Ginn says that he wants to create a “major” feel, even though it is the tournament’s first year.

Orlando Sentinal writer Steve Elling recounts the origins of the Ginn Open:

Looking to rustle up some grub, real-estate developer Bobby Ginn ducked into one of those uniquely western locales that sound like something out of a Zane Grey paperback.

It was a rustic hole in the wall in the Colorado mountains, where Ginn is building a community in a remote mining town called Minturn. The restaurant also tripled as a bar and post office, and seated inside were a bunch of mountain men who looked like the scruffy offspring of Yosemite Sam and a biker chick.

“What’s going on, guys?” Ginn asked.

Surprisingly, the TV was tuned to the U.S. Women’s Open, which was taking place 100 miles away in Denver. The men proceeded to recount the highlights before one added with a smirk, “I can’t believe I’m talking about women’s golf.”

Ginn certainly can. The next day he formally announced that this week’s Ginn Open, which has grown into the most expensive inaugural event in LPGA history, would be staged at his Reunion Resort development outside Orlando. But after his talk with the mountain folks, the sticker shock wasn’t as acute.

“I felt a lot better walking out of there than when I walked in,” Ginn laughed of his high-altitude interlude.

The tournament will be played at Ginn’s Reunion Resort & Club on a course comprised of holes from two of the resort’s courses, the Legacy Course designed by Arnold Palmer and the Independence Course by Tom Watson.

Interestingly, Ginn also is in negotiations to host two Florida Champions Tour events.

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