by Allie White.

It was a big week in Sioux Falls, South Dakota for women’s golf. 144 of the Symetra Tour’s finest golfers came to do battle for the inaugural GreatLIFE Challenge Trophy.

And the champ? Well, heading into Sunday, Sydney Clanton, an experienced Symetra Tour winner, Rachel Rohanna, a regular contender, and Caroline Westrup (pictured above) all had a share of the lead. Before today, Westrup only had one top ten on the season. Not anymore. Westrup held off all challengers and won not only the big trophy but also the winner’s check, the Symetra Tour’s highest ever, $31,500. Westrup more than tripled her season earnings.

Nice! I think everyone would love a week like that! But I’m not complaining, I also had a solid tourney, finishing with a little 69 on Sunday to keep those feel good vibes rolling. A good Sunday always keeps you coming back for more. Check out the symetratour.com to read more about the tournament!

Speaking of coming back for more, the Symetra Tour was blessed with a visit from one of golf’s best ever, 6-time major winner, Kathy Whitworth. Miss Whitworth stopped by Sioux Falls to join Symetra standout Lee Lopez for the GreatLIFE Pro-Am tournament.

Kathy Whitworth
LPGA Great and 88-time winner – Kathy Whitworth

I had the good fortune of speaking with the 88 time LPGA Champion, Miss Whitworth after the event.
Yeah, 88 wins! That’s more than any other LPGA player or PGA player ever. As the first LPGA player to earn one million dollars in her career ever, she is more than a legend.

Miss Whitworth, had nothing but positive feedback about our Symetra event in South Dakota. She thinks that “the Symetra Tour provides a great place for players to be competitive and learn what to work on”. She also added that having an event in a “small community” like Sioux Falls that “really gets it” was a winning concept and that she would love to see the LPGA host more full field events in the United States in order to help American players grow.
Miss Whitworth was full of good advice for today’s generation of golfers. Her biggest piece of advice? “Enjoy trying to win, and never ever give up.”

kris tschetter
Kris Tschetter

The same sentiments were echoed from another one of the LPGA’s Legends players who also came out to play the Pro AM. Kris Tschetter, one time LPGA Champion, played a significant role in helping the GreatLIFE Challenge find its way to Sioux Falls. Having lived in the Sioux Falls area, LPGA Legend Tschetter really helped rally support for the tournament from all over.
Like Miss Whitworth, Tschetter emphasized that young players need to “enjoy the journey” out on tour. She added that “Sioux Falls is a great golf town and that the LPGA often does better in smaller communities when they are the one big thing that comes to town”.

Much of the credit for the success of the GreatLife Challenge needs to go to tournament sponsor Tom Walsh for having the foresight to host such an event. Walsh’s strong character was key to bringing in sponsorship money and star power.
Among other stars that buzzed over to South Dakota to make an appearance was David Feherty who showed up to do a little Feherty live. Naturally I did a little gawking and snapped a pic. Pretty fun stuff!

symetra tour group
Hanging with friends at dinner! Symetra pro Portland Rosen, Long drive man Mike Dobbyn, Me. Mike’s coach Charles Kallassy, David Feherty,  Symetra pro Michelle Piyapattra.

And just when I thought there couldn’t be anybody else coming clear out to South Dakota to see us… 6’8”, 310 pound, Mike Dobbyn strolled into the room. Dobbyn, the world record holder for the longest drive ever at 551 yards hung out all week with us- watching golf and doing demos. Boy, can he crush it. I watched him hit a few shots and let’s just say that he hits his wedge 220 yards. I suppose I can still outdrive 220 with my driver so no worries! It was beautiful to watch.

Needless to say, South Dakota was the place to be this past week. A big thank you to all of the folks who worked so hard to host the Symetra Tour’s most lucrative event in history! And congratulations to Caroline Westrup!

 

Images: Courtesy LPGA/Symetra Tour media and Allie White

Allie WhiteAllie White from Lancaster, Ohio, is a professional golfer (and a cracking writer!) playing on the Symetra Tour (The Road to the LPGA). She is an English Major from the University of North Carolina.