LPGA Adds Great Lakes Bay Invitational In Michigan
A new LPGA team event will make its debut July 17 – 20, 2019 in Midland, Michigan. The Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational will feature 72 two-player teams competing in foursomes and fourball. Dow Chemical (based in Midland), will sponsor the tournament for five years. The purse is $2 million.
The event will be played at Midland Country Club.
The Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational will be the first official team event in LPGA history.
“Our players and fans have consistently asked about a team event on the LPGA. I know our players will enjoy this event, as much as our fans,” said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan. “I’m excited and honored to have Dow expand its partnership with the LPGA family, and launch this incredible event. Personally, I can’t wait for 2019, when we debut the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational to our fans from around the globe.”
Dow is an official marketing partner for the LPGA, so bringing a tournament to its headquarters was likely inevitable. Five years is a long time, and my guess is that it will take at least three years to get the event in peak form.
“We are so thrilled to bring this event to the region to further showcase all that the Great Lakes Bay area has to offer,” said Jim Fitterling, chief executive officer-elect of Dow. “The impact of this event will extend far beyond the golf course, as this unique partnership offers a great platform to build our community and explore the intersections between golf, our business, and life, especially in the areas of careers and inclusion.”
Michigan is growing as a site for professional golf tournaments. The state currently hosts two LPGA Tournaments: The Volvik Championship in Ann Arbor, and the Meijer LPGA Classic in Grand Rapids. PGA TOUR Champions will hold the inaugural Ally Challenge in September in Grand Blanc, just outside of Flint. Warwick Hills, which hosted the Buick Open for 45 years (until 2009) will host that event. The Senior PGA Championship is played every other year in Benton Harbor.
In 2019, the PGA Tour will stop at Detroit Country Club for a Quicken Loans sponsored event.
In addition, Michigan hosts two Symetra Tour (the LPGA’s minor leagues) events: The Island Resort Championship in Harris in the Upper Peninsula, and the Firekeepers Casino Hotel Championship in Battle Creek.
The best case scenario, then, is that Michigan will host eight professional golf tournaments. That’s quite the leap from 2013, when the total was zero. The Meijer LPGA Classic’s inaugural year was 2014.
However, I am very much worried about the fate of the Volvik LPGA. Volvik’s original three year deal ends this year (2018). No announcement about a renewal has yet been made. My feeling is that if a sponsorship renewal was likely, an announcement would have been made by now. I hope I’m wrong. Volvik is strongly associated with the LPGA, and sponsoring this tournament has gotten them some good air time, even if the crowds have not been overwhelming. The staff from Volvik has been very welcoming. The tournament has raised a lot of money and awareness for local charities. This year, they partner with the University of Michigan Medical Center.
If not, hopefully the tournament organizers have a plan B for a sponsor. There are a lot of big name companies in Ann Arbor. Google, for example, has its Adwords HQ in Ann Arbor. Dominos was born in Ann Arbor. Toyota, Thompson-Reuters, Truven Health Analytics, CitiMortgage, Ford, and ProQuest also are here. How about the Dominos LPGA Classic? I’d prefer that Volvik stay, but maybe that’s an option.