By: Greg Johnson
Michigan and the Ladies Professional Golf Association are becoming regular golf partners.
Earlier this month, the LPGA and The Dow Chemical Company, or Dow, announced a partnership that will bring a new LPGA Tour event to the state as of 2019. Michigan, already home to two regular tour events and two LPGA Symetra Tour events, is now adding the first official team event in LPGA history known as the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational to its collection of professional golf events.
Jim Fitterling, chief executive officer-elect of Midland-based Dow, said the impact of the event extends beyond the golf course.
“We are so thrilled to bring this event to the region to further showcase all that the Great Lakes Bay area has to offer,” Fitterling said in a May 2018 press release. “This unique partnership offers a great platform to build our community and explore the intersections between golf, our business, and life—especially in the areas of careers and inclusion.”
Dow Chemical Company has partnered with the LPGA for an initial period of five years and will sponsor the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, which is a 72-hole team event. Midland Country Club will help make LPGA history as its hosts the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational from July 17 to July 20, 2019.
The tournament is unique as it features 72 two-player teams competing in both foursomes and four-ball, also known as best-ball and alternate shot, for a $2 million purse.
LPGA golfers Juli Inkster, Katherine Kirk, Brittany Lincicome, Jenny Shin, and Angel Yin were on hand at the recent press conference at Midland Country Club in Midland announcing the tournament, and were joined by Dow, LPGA, and community leaders and representatives.
While the 2019 event is the first official team event in LPGA history, the tour has had unofficial team events like the Hot Springs 4-Ball Invitational from 1955 to 58; Women’s World Cup of Golf in 2000, and from 2005 to 2008; and has partnered with the PGA and PGA Tour Champions for the Wendy’s 3-Tour Challenge from 1992 to 2013, and for the Hyundai Team Matches from 1994 to 97 and 1999 to 2002.
The tournament is also a first at Midland Country Club, which was originally designed in 1928 by Gilbert Currie. It was redesigned in 1970 by Larry Packard, in 1990 by Jerry Matthews, and in 2009 by Craig Schreiner.
The other two LPGA stops in the state are regular stroke play events: the Volvik Championship at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor from May 24 to 27, and the Meijer Classic at Blythefield Country Club near Grand Rapids from June 14 to 17.