When enough people clamor for something it usually happens, maybe not right away, but the will of the people cannot be denied for long. That’s especially true when you have a dynamic leader who understands how to fill a need.
There’s no better example of this than the announcement today of a new LPGA event that will be played at Midland (Mich.) Country Club in July 2019.
The Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, a 72-hole event to be played Wednesday through Saturday of the same week as the men’s Open Championship, will be the first official team event in LPGA history. The field will consist of 72 two-player teams, who will compete in foursomes and four-ball portions (with further details forthcoming).
“Our players and fans have consistently asked about a team event on the LPGA,” said LPGA commissioner Mike Whan. “I know our players will enjoy this event, as much as our fans. I’m excited and honored to have Dow expand its partnership with the LPGA family and launch this incredible event. Personally, I can’t wait for 2019 when we debut the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational to our fans from around the globe.”
Whan has talked about this concept for years, since before Zurich Insurance transformed the New Orleans PGA Tour event into a team competition. The players have been all but begging for it, especially after seeing the success of Charley Hull and Georgia Hall in the European Tour’s GolfSixes event last week in England.
He also still preaches the virtues of a future mixed-team tournament where, in Whan’s words, “fans can see Lexi Thompson and Bubba Watson partnering and reading putts for each other. That’ll be great.”
In the meantime the new event will be a complement to the Open Championship, giving fans live Wednesday golf as well as afternoon viewing on Thursday through Saturday once play concludes at Royal Portrush.
There have been unofficial team events in the past, most recently the Wendy’s 3-Tour Challenge, which included players from the PGA Tour, the LPGA Tour and the PGA Tour Champions. But this new tournament, which will have a $2 million purse, could set the stage for more creative formats in the future.