by Dave Andrews
Some of the greatest past stars of the LPGA competed alongside young pros hoping to make it to the LPGA in a first-of-its-kind event in Fort Myers, Florida in late April 2015.
30 players on the LPGA Legends Tour, including 8 Hall of Famers, teed it up at Cypress Lake Country Club in the $150,000 Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial. Also competing in the same event on the course were 144 members of the Symetra Tour. They battled it out for a separate $150,000 purse.
I had the pleasure of caddying for second-year Symetra Tour player Jessica Alexander. Jessica had an excellent event; finishing the four rounds at 2 under par and tied for 12th place (her best finish yet on the tour). In her third round she was paired with 13-time LPGA winner Rosie Jones. On the final day, Jessica played alongside Sherri Steinhauer. Both of the Legends players couldn’t have been more friendly or encouraging to Jessica out on the course. Rosie even gave Jessica a few pointers on the driving range after they finished their round. I’m sure Jessica will always remember those two rounds as she works her way up to the LPGA where Jones and Steinhauer had so much success and built such great careers..
Hall of Famers Nancy Lopez, Beth Daniel, Joanne Carner, and Donna Caponi were among the 30 Legends rubbing elbows and swapping stories with the rising young stars in women’s golf. The concept of combining the Legends Tour with the Symetra Tour worked excellently. A big crowd was attracted to the event to watch many household names in women’s golf. Golf Channel provided live coverage all four days of the event during its Morning Drive shows. The action was not covered live, but there were several interviews and feature stories focusing on the past history of the LPGA and the future prospects for women’s professional golf.
Women’s professional golf has been growing steadily in recent years. The LPGA has seen a major resurgence over the last five years under Commissioner Mike Whan. The Symetra Tour, the primary feeder tour for the LPGA, has seen its number of events rise to 23 this year. That is 50% more than the tour had just 8 years ago. Much of the success of the two tours goes to the Legends Tour players who built such a strong foundation for the women’s pro game when they were competing in their prime years on the LPGA.
Hopefully the combined Symetra Tour/Legends Tour event that came off so successfully in Ft. Myers will be repeated many times in seasons to come.
Dave Andrews is a retired television news reporter. He is also an avid golfer who has become a fan of the LPGA and the Symetra Tour.
He is the author of Pops and Sunshine, a novel and screenplay about a young woman pro’s dream and struggle to make it to the LPGA.
The screenplay has been optioned by a production company in Hollywood and the novel is available at Kindle Ebooks.
Follow Dave online on Twitter @PopsandSunshine
Also by Dave Andrews on womensgolf.com