GOLF

Soldier Hollow Stop Will Have Biggest Purse In LPGA Epson Tour History

May 19, 2023, 10:35 AM | Updated: 10:41 am

Soldier-Hollow-Golf-Course-2020...

Golfers compete for the 5A state championship at Soldier Hollow in Midway on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. (Courtesy of Deseret News)

(Courtesy of Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – Black Desert Resort intends to become a major player in professional golf in Southern Utah. Their impact will start in September in Northern Utah.

The Black Desert Resort Championship presented by Marcella Club, offering by far the biggest purse ($375,000) in LPGA Epson Tour history, will be played Sept. 7-9 with a Saturday finish at Soldier Hollow Golf Course in Midway.

The Epson Tour is the official qualifying tour of the LPGA Tour, the women’s equivalent of the Korn Ferry Tour. The Soldier Hollow stop will have major influence on the list of 10 graduates in 2023, as the fifth-to-last event of the season with a purse that’s $40,000 bigger than any other tournament on the schedule. The winner will earn $56,250.

“Our event is positioned in a great way, as the battle for an LPGA Tour card starts to heat up at the end of the season,” said Championship Director David Viveiros.

The event also will provide charitable support to the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of Utah and The First Tee of Utah. A one-hour tournament documentary will be produced for Golf Channel programming.

A volunteer recruitment dinner is scheduled Tuesday May 23 at Alpine Country Club in Highland. For information, contact Gina Higbee, director of volunteers.

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LPGA Epson Tour officials sought to add the Northern Utah market to the 2023 calendar, which included a Southern Utah stop in April. They enlisted Viveiros, who was instrumental in the other event’s instant success in 2021 and ‘22.

The new tournament offered Black Desert Resort a marketing opportunity to golfers in Northern Utah, with its Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course opening May 27 and the entire project scheduled for August 2024 completion in Ivins, Utah.

Marcella Club, a sister-resort, is developing a 36-hole facility with a Tiger Woods-designed course in Park City.

“There is a shared vision with ownership from the beginning to have the largest purse on the LPGA Epson Tour,” Viveiros said. “Black Desert Resort’s message is that we want to offer the best resort to our patrons, while at the same time supporting women’s professional golf in an unprecedented way in the state of Utah.”

With the title sponsorship enabling such a significant payout, “We want to highlight women’s golf and show how much Black Desert Resort and Marcella Club embrace the women’s side of the sport,” said Black Desert Resort managing partner Patrick Manning. “We’ll be able to showcase our world-class resorts, coming out with just spectacular courses.”

In turn, the 120 contestants in the Black Desert Resort Championship will experience Soldier Hollow’s Gold Course, the home of Utah’s only United States Golf Association event and by far the most frequent site of the State Amateur in this century.

In 2006, PGA Tour star Tony Finau won the first of the seven State Amateur tournaments conducted at Soldier Hollow. The field of the 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links in Midway has gone on to claim a collective 20 PGA Tour titles, including eight for Bryson DeChambeau and seven for Xander Schauffele. In 2020, Grace Summerhays, a member of one of Utah’s most prominent golf families, won the Women’s State Amateur.

With much of the layout built on ledges overlooking the 36-hole property, the Gold Course is “unlike any other course in Utah,” said Scott Strong, deputy director of Utah State Parks and Recreation.

For the past 15 years, Strong has sought to use the four state-owned courses to encourage the growth of women’s golf. In addition to showcasing the Epson Tour pros, the Black Desert Resort Championship will include a Junior Pro-Am on the adjacent Silver Course on Championship Saturday.

When the state was offered the host’s role, Strong said, “I was just ecstatic. … This quite honestly is a dream come true for me. This is just a great way to promote golf and I’m just so excited to have the caliber of players that are coming to be showcased.”

Epson Tour alumni have shown the ability to make an immediate impact on the LPGA Tour. Grace Kim, a 2022 graduate, won the LOTTE Championship in Hawaii in April in only her third LPGA Tour start.

The Black Desert Resort Championship comes 60 years after Kathy Whitworth collected one of her record 88 LPGA Tour victories at Ogden Golf & Country Club, during the LPGA Tour’s three-year run in Northern Utah. Organizers intend to add even more history-making layers.

“This is just the beginning,” Viveiros said. “Professional golf in Utah will reach heights it’s never seen before. What Black Desert Resort is about to do is nothing short of historic. Stay tuned.”

For more information, see the Black Desert Rock Championship website: bdrchampionship.com.

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Soldier Hollow Stop Will Have Biggest Purse In LPGA Epson Tour History