The LPGA gets it.
When the women’s tour had some open 2018 dates it needed to fill, where did it look? California, of course. Tournaments were added at Lake Merced in San Francisco and at a Los Angeles-area course to be determined.
Both events will be in late April. The Hugel-JTBC Championship in L.A. will go off first on April 19-22 (the course will be announced early next year), and the as-yet-unnamed Lake Merced tournament is scheduled for a week later.
That’s not an ideal time for California golf – the rainy season still can be hanging around before the calendar turns to May. But chances are it will be beautiful and lush, a sight to be seen for television viewers back east who still are waiting for warmer, golf-friendly days.
As I have written before, California golf has been under-represented on the pro schedules even though the PGA Tour holds four tournaments here in January and February and comes back for the Safeway Open in October … even though the Champions Tour has a couple of events here in the fall … and even though there will be a lot of majors here over the next few years.
Sure, that’s quite a few events for one state, but I’ve never understood why there weren’t more during the best weather of the year. For many years, the PGA visited in the winter, often battling some weather delays, and then wouldn’t return.
Speaking of those winter events, it’s not too early to start planning for the 2018 Pebble Beach Pro-Am, scheduled for the week of Feb. 5-11.
Defending champion Jordan Spieth will be back, and Rory McIlroy will make his first AT&T appearance. Five of the world’s top 10 have committed, including No. 1-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 4 Jon Rahm and No. 8 Brooks Koepka. McIlroy is ranked 10th.
Other prominent players in the field include Adam Scott, Bubba Watson and Jason Day.
Country music star Dierks Bentley is the biggest new name among the celebrity participants. Mark Wahlberg, Carson Daly, Josh Duhamel, Toby Keith, Chris O’Donnell and Kelly Rohrbach all are scheduled to return.
The venue, as always, is part of the attraction. It will be the usual three-course rotation: Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula on Thursday through Saturday, then Pebble Beach alone for Sunday’s final round.
If you’ve never come for the practice rounds, it’s a great deal: A three-day pass is only $60 (valid Monday through Wednesday), and it includes admission to the Chevron Shoot-Out, Facebook Million Dollar Hole-in-One Challenge and 3M Celebrity Challenge.
The smaller early week crowds and the more casual, noncompetitive atmosphere make it a great time to see the players up close and interact with them.
Tickets for the days of the tournament are $60 Thursday, Friday, or Sunday and $70 Saturday. A pass for the entire week is $150 – a great deal when you think about it.
Tickets for the tournament are available in advance, as well as special hospitality venue access and group ticket packages, at www.attpbgolf.com and by calling the ticket office at (800) 541-9091 or (831) 644-0333.