The Women’s PGA Championship was known as the LPGA Championship from 1955 through 2014. Since its inception, the event had a penchant for staying a while at the same course or club. In 2015, the tournament aligned with the PGA of America, and transitioned to the WPGA. Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s have a list of all the sites that you can access, membership free!
Known then as the Sheraton Hotel Resort Club, the town of French Lick, Indiana, has been known for its golf, longer than as the home of Larry Bird. The eponymous resort offers two courses, the old and the new. The old is a classic, Donald Ross course from the golden age of golf course architecture. It was a beast when it opened in 1917. That translates to playable with today’s technology. The new course is a Pete Dye monster, the equivalent of what the Ross course was in the the WWI years. Neither is forgettable, and both will leave you with stories to tell.
Sensing a theme here? A lot of “Known then as” courses across the history of this august event. The Stardust Country Club rebranded a few times after the LPGA Championship left town; since the late 1990s, has been known as LVN. In a town known for high rollers, and even higher golf rates, the National won’t set you back nearly as much money as the other area names. For county residents, the rate is less than half the visitor’s fee.
At the time, the Concord Resort was one of the big ones in the Catskills. As we now know, the region fell on hard times, including the shuttering of the massive hotel that featured at Concord. The International and the short course were also closed, but The Monster remains open to this day. If you’ve not played the Monster, imagine a fish hatchery then imagine a golf course built around its ponds, fairways between its tributaries, with green sites in nearly-impossible places to reach. The Monster is a stunner, but be sure that you bring plenty of unloved golf balls when you play; you may not return with a full pocket.
According to Rees Jones (golf course architect) website, the Monster and the International will combine holes, to reveal a Modern Monster. Stay tuned!
North of Baltimore, on the shores of the Loch Raven Reservoir, the Pine Ridge golf course might be the best deal you’ll get, on a former LPGA/WPGA site. Other than peak hours for visitors, green fees are on the south side of $50, and that includes a power cart! The LPGA championship spent two years at Pine Ridge in the mid 1970s, crowning Kathy Whitworth and Betty Burfeindt as champions. The majority of holes offer direct or tree-lined views of the reservoir, making Pine Ridge a tantalizing option for mid-atlantic golf.
Known then as the Jack Nicklaus Sports Center, the Cincinnati area hosted the LPGA Championship for over a decade in the 1980s. Originally home to a multiple courses, the center has reduced operations to the championship course and a 4-hole beginners layout. Rebranded for the town in which it lies, The Mason golf center matches Pine Ridge for affordability, and discounts rates even more during the shoulder season and winter months.
This entry comes with an asterisk. Insiders tell us that the DuPont Country Club, located in Wilimington, Delaware, offers access to the paying public. The website makes no mention of such access, so a phone call or email is the most logical first step, if you’re in the area. Another site that hosted the flagship event of the ladies tour for over a decade, DuPont was designed by Alfred Tull, a disciple of legendary architect A.W. Tillinghast.
The final, public-access course to host the LPGA Championship, Bulle Rock opened in 1998, part of the wave of high-end, public-access courses demanded by the Baby Boomer generation’s thirst for golf. Also designed by Pete Dye (see French Lick Resort entry above) Bulle Rock has hosted a number of top-shelf championships. Much like The Monster (also mentioned above) you won’t come away with a lot of birdies, nor a personal-best scorecard, but you will test your game against one of the most challenging courses to ever host this storied championship.