Industry Hills lands LPGA tourney
INDUSTRY – Kelly Hyne, vice president LPGA properties, was talking about how the tour always hopes to return when it leaves a media market.
It will have taken six years for the women’s professional golf circuit to stage another event in the Los Angeles area and 30 years for it to revisit Industry Hills, but it’s back.
That became fact Saturday at Industry Hills Golf Club at Pacific Palms, where officials announced the $1.7 million Kia Classic, which will be held at the resort March 21-27 in 2011. The contract is for one year, but various parties are confident the event, which also will include a pro-am, will become a regular tour stop.
Industry Hills replaces La Costa Resort & Spa, which hosted last year’s inaugural classic (won by Hee Kyung Seo) but couldn’t continue because of planned course renovations next year.
“We’re going to have one of the finest and most successful LPGA events they’ve ever had,” said John Semcken of Majestic Realty Co., which owns Pacific Palms. “We’re going to be able to create a tournament where they’ll have significant financial success and want to be back.
Next year’s 72-hole event is the first time the LPGA will play at Industry Hills since the Olympia Gold Classic in 1981 and 1982, which had a purse of $150,000 each year and was won by Sally Little both times.
The tournament also is the first LPGA tournament in the Los Angeles area since 2005, when Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes was the site of the Office Depot.
Industry Hills’ Dwight D. Eisenhower and Babe Zaharias courses underwent a recent $22 million renovation that included rebuilding several greens and redoing all bunkers and fairways, and Semcken said a goal of the project was to host another tour event. Industry Hills had talks with the Nationwide Tour, but those never panned out.
“When we redid the courses, we wanted a professional event,” Semcken said. “We felt the courses certainly were worthy.”
Next year’s Kia Classic will be played on a combination of both courses. It will start on the 10th hole of the Babe Zaharias and continue on the 11th hole and holes 3-9 of the outward nine before closing with the back nine of the Eisenhower course. The layout will play to a par of 73 and stretch to 6,700 yards.
“I rode it the other day,” Hyne said. “It’s a fabulous track and the players are going to love it.”
She also said tour players’ reaction to having a new event in the Los Angeles area has been overwhelmingly positive. Many players live in California, she said, and are looking forward to staying home for at least two weeks. The Kia Classic will
be held just before next year’s Kraft Nabisco in Palm Desert.”It’s a good 1-2 for us,” she said.
Michelle Wie, who won the recent CN Canadian Women’s Open and is sponsored by Kia Motors, said she has not played Industry Hills but is looking forward to the challenge, along with being back in the area.
“It’s always great to be back here in Southern California,” said Wie, who starts her fourth year at Stanford University, where she is pursuing a degree in communications, on Monday. She considers herself a “redshirt freshman” and hopes to graduate in 2012. “I love being here.
“I’ve spent a lot of time down here, and from what I’ve seen so far it looks like a really great venue.”
Dave Youpa, longtime director of golf at Industry Hills, said more than 800 volunteers will be needed during the tournament and is thrilled at the prospect of having the LPGA at the facility again.
“I’m excited, honored, a little bit nervous,” he said. “I haven’t been involved in running a tour event before, but I think we can do as well as anybody.
“This is the best tournament golfing facility in Southern California, as far as I’m concerned. We love and promote golf at all levels, but to have a tour event is a bonus.
“We’ll make it the best.”
For more information on next year’s event, go to the Website at www.kiaclassic.com.
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