This week, the LPGA announced the creation of a brand new major championship for senior women: the Senior LPGA Championship, scheduled to be conducted at the French Lick Resort’s Pete Dye Course in Indiana on July 10-12, 2017.
The Legends Tour, a competitive circuit for female players age 45 and over, will soon have two majors on the summer schedule. The USGA announced earlier this year that the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open Championship will be played at Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, Ill., in 2018.
So, just how significant are these developments for the 120-plus Legends Tour members?
“This is a huge breakthrough for us,” says Michelle McGann, a seven-time LPGA Tour winner and current Legends player. “It's just a long time coming. The guys [on the PGA Tour Champions] are so far ahead of us, as far as the senior division goes. I'm just glad to be part of it.”
The Senior LPGA Championship will feature an 81-player field comprised of LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame members, current LPGA members, and major champions over the age of 45. The ladies will play 54 holes with no cut, contending for a $600,000 purse.
“A $600,000 purse is huge,” says McGann. “Because I think our averages are maybe $200,000? Girls are talking about starting to work out again and get in shape. And if all of us do that, then maybe we can encourage other people to get out and play and come watch us.”
The tournament will be broadcast live on Golf Channel, giving the Tour and its players some much needed -- and deserved -- exposure.
“A lot of people don't really know about us,” says McGann. “So I think this will put us on the map. This [announcement] was like a big Christmas present to all of us. We're grateful for the opportunity and we all will do whatever we can to make it the best event possible.”