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The Score - Anthony Schoettle

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Sports Business

LPGA returns to Brickyard Crossing with star-studded field

August 30, 2017
KEYWORDS Sports Business

The massive tents going up at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are not early construction for next year’s glamping infrastructure for the Indianapolis 500.

Many of the world’s top women’s golfers—including 10 of the 12 members of this year’s U.S. Solheim Cup team—will tee it up Sept. 7-9 at Brickyard Crossing Golf Course, marking the return of the LPGA Tour to central Indiana after a nearly two-decade absence.

The Mayflower Classic was the last LPGA event to play here. It took place at the Country Club of Indianapolis in 1988. Professional women’s golf hasn’t been played at the Speedway’s course since the 1960s.

The Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim is expected to draw a full field of 144 players, featuring such stars as Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, PGA Championship winner Danielle Kang and world No. 2-ranked Lexi Thompson. The players will compete for a $2 million purse, with the winner pocketing $300,000.

Tournament spokesman Kevin Wyman isn’t surprised the tournament is drawing a star-studded field in its first year.

“There’s such a rich history at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s course,” he said, noting that the PGA Tour and PGA Senior Tour have played on the course. “We call the Brickyard the most unique venue in golf.

“When the players were told we were coming to this iconic venue, they were really excited—ecstatic—to play the Brickyard."

The tournament ends on Saturday, Sept. 9, to give players the opportunity to fly to the next tour event in France. PGA and LPGA events usually conclude on Sundays.

This isn’t a one-time deal. The LPGA and tournament organizers have signed a three-year deal to hold the tournament at the Brickyard.

The local tournament will be preceded by a qualifying tournament and two days of practice. The qualifying tournament is closed to the public, but the practices are free and open to onlookers.

In addition to drawing the world’s top players, event organizers are hopeful the first-year event will draw thousands of spectators. It will also be televised on The Golf Channel.

A few modifications were made to the course to accommodate hospitality offerings and the TV broadcast. 

What are normally holes 7 through 10 will be changed to holes 15 through 18, so the tournament finishes on the infield of the Speedway’s 2.5-mile oval. 

Two hospitality suites are being built at the reconfigured 18th hole and one at the 17th, with a public viewing deck going up at the 15th tee. 

Tournament organizers started constructing the huge tents last week and hope to be done by Monday.

Wyman said attendance is difficult to predict for the first year.

“It’s a little tough to know, but with good weather, we think we’ll have a very strong crowd,” he said. “Walk-up ticket sales could account for 50 [percent] to 75 percent of total attendance, so weather will be the No. 1 factor in determining attendance this first year.”

Tickets start at $17. For an additional $20, there’s an all-inclusive food package.

In addition to Guggenheim, an insurance company, the tournament has drawn dozens of sponsors either based in Indiana or with a significant presence here, ranging from Allegion, Allison Transmission and Browning Investments to Eli Lilly and Co., Meijer and Rolls-Royce.

 

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