KILDEER, ILLINOIS | It’s been a consistent and near-universal theme. This is the best major in women’s golf. No question. Not close. Players up and down the driving range and out on the insanely difficult back nine at Kemper Lakes Golf Club said it over and over. Caddies echoed their bosses. From the selection of the golf course, to the conditioning, to the setup, the signage, the flow, entry statements, the size and breadth of spectator areas, and the food, amenities and general care and concern for the players, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship – in its fourth year under a partnership between the LPGA, PGA of America and KPMG – is the No. 1 major in the women’s game.
“It’s about attitude,” said one major champion who asked not to be named. “It’s like KPMG has said, ‘We’re about women and the women’s game and we want to do whatever it takes to make this event the best.’ In four years, they’ve done it. Every year it’s been better and better. And it started out (in 2015 at Westchester Country Club) being really good.”
“From the moment you turn onto the property, you’re treated better,” said Pete Godfrey, caddie for Karrie Webb and husband of LPGA player Jane Park. “And the golf course setup, it’s not close. They’ve had as much rain here (in the northern Chicago suburbs) as we’ve had anywhere this year and this course is great. Yeah, it’s wet but they’ve taken that into account. It’s really, really good. Top to bottom.”
A lot of this has to do with the brilliance of Kerry Haigh, the chief championships officer of the PGA of America, who has spent every minute of this week and many hours before on the course at Kemper Lakes. Haigh’s setups are notoriously fair. From Ryder Cups to PGA Championships to this event for the last four years, he has gotten it right almost every time.
Another multiple major winner said, “We want major championship courses to be difficult and we want the championships to be a challenge. That’s what makes winning them so special. But you can tell when someone has put a great deal of care and consideration into the setup; when they’ve worked out all the problems and made sure that every contact point with players and caddies and media and fans exceeds expectations. Look at the grandstands; look at the thought that has gone into player dining; look at how much has gone into getting this course into great shape and making sure the setup works. And look at where we’ve played. Westchester, Sahalee, Olympia Fields, here (at Kemper Lakes) … these are major-championship courses, courses with a history that people can look back on and compare us to. That’s what makes this the best major.”
Throw in the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit, which featured Dr. Condoleezza Rice; Admiral Michelle Howard (retired U.S. Navy); Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture; Lynne Doughtie, CEO of KPMG; and moderator Jenna Bush, and it’s hard not to agree. From the perspective of a woman in golf, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship has vaulted to the top rung of the major championship chain. And KPMG, the LPGA and the PGA of America have shown the rest of the golf world how to do things right.