LPGA Returns to Prattville in 2014, Renews Event in Mobile
The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail named Presenting Partner for both Alabama-based Tour events
MOBILE, ALABAMA, May 14, 2013 – Prattville, Alabama and the Senator Course at Capitol Hill will again be part of the LPGA's schedule beginning in 2014, as announced today by Dr. David G. Bronner, CEO of the Retirement Systems of Alabama and LPGA Tour Commissioner Michael Whan. The Tour will make two stops in Alabama next season, with a return to the Alabama LPGA Classic in Prattville and a renewal of the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic. Today's press conference, held in Mobile, also included Rolex Rankings No. 2 Stacy Lewis, Prattville Mayor Bill Gillespie Jr. and Mobile County Commissioner Connie Hudson.
The Alabama LPGA Classic Presented by the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail will mark the Tour's seventh visit to Prattville, a suburb of Montgomery, with past winners including Lewis (2012), Lexi Thompson (2011), Katherine Hull-Kirk (2010), Lorena Ochoa (2008, 2009) and Maria Hjorth (2007).
As part of today's announcement, The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail was named as Presenting Partner of both the Alabama LPGA Classic and the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic beginning in 2014.
"It is time to celebrate, Alabama," Bronner said. "We are delighted to bring two LPGA events back to Alabama in 2014. Not only will we get to see some of the world's best athletes compete, but the international exposure and economic impact are tremendous. Having the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail as the presenting partner for both events in 2014 will keep the eyes of the international golf community on America's original golf trail."
The RTJ Golf Trail opened in 1992 and was established to bring increased tourism and expanded economic investments in the state of Alabama while adding to the quality of life for its residents. In 2012, the economic impact of both the LPGA events in Mobile and Prattville exceeded $30 million.
"We're thrilled to return to Prattville for the newly named Alabama LPGA Classic," said Whan. "Adding this event back on the schedule is the result of a great partnership between the LPGA, Retirement Systems of Alabama and the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. It's no secret that Alabama has some of the best golf in America. In 2014, the best female players in the world will 'play the Trail' and we couldn't be more excited!"
Lewis took the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail by storm in 2012, completing the "Alabama Slam" with victories in Prattville and Mobile. Her wins in Alabama, supplemented by victories at the ShopRite LPGA Classic and the Mizuno Classic, helped vault her to Rolex Player of the Year honors. She was the first American since Beth Daniel in 1994 to win the award.
"I personally have a lot of great memories in the state of Alabama and am excited that we will get to play there twice again next year," said Stacy Lewis. "The courses on the Trail provide a true test of golf and do a great job of showcasing the talent on Tour."
Alabama officials also announced their excitement about the LPGA playing twice on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in 2014.
"I am thrilled to join tournament officials here at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic for this important announcement," said Prattville Mayor Bill Gillespie, Jr. "Many Partners of Prattville have inquired about the LPGA coming back to our great city. It is a true blessing that the world's best women golfers will be with us, again, in 2014 for the Alabama LPGA Classic. On behalf of the City of Prattville, I want to thank RTJ Golf Trail officials and the LPGA for all of their hard work in securing a sponsor to continue the tournament tradition in the cities of Prattville and Mobile in the coming year."
"It is great to hear that Alabama will again host some of the most talented golfers in the world twice next year," said Director of Alabama Tourism Lee Sentell. "In a short time, Alabama went from not being a golf state to become a destination that attracts some of the best tournaments and lots of fans. The substantial economic impact is important to our tourism industry."
"The return of the LPGA in 2014 is exciting news for River Region golf fans," said Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange. "The warm hospitality the golfers have received here in the past and our top-notch facilities likely made coming back to Central Alabama an easy decision. Seeing the world's best female golfers up close is thrilling. We are also excited about showcasing our community's natural beauty through national media coverage. This type of exposure is priceless. Dr. David Bronner is to be applauded for his vision and continuing leadership in making world-class golf a tourism magnet and economic development tool for our state."
This week's Mobile Bay LPGA Classic will be televised on Golf Channel and the LPGA's international television partners. Coverage in the U.S. begins on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Eastern.
ALABAMA'S ROBERT TRENT JONES GOLF TRAIL - PUBLIC GOLF AT ITS BEST
Funded by the Retirement Systems of Alabama, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail was built to help expand tourism, recruit industry and attract retirees, thus strengthening the state's economy while adding to the quality of life for all Alabamians. The concept for the Trail came from Dr. David G. Bronner, who, as chief executive officer, shaped the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) into one of the nation's best-performing pension funds. RSA has investments in Raycom Media, PCH Hotels, 55 Water Street in New York City, Community Newspapers and other interests.
Part of Dr. Bronner's investment philosophy hits home in its rationale for funding the Trail: "The stronger the Retirement Systems can make Alabama, the stronger the Retirement Systems of Alabama will be." The Trail has been a strong contributor to Alabama's economy: In the past 10 years, Alabama's tourism dollars have increased from less than $2.5 billion to more than 10 billion.
The Trail's artfully designed and beautifully landscaped courses, according to The New York Times, are "some of the best public golf on earth." The Wall Street Journal said the Trail "may be the best bargain in the country." The Boston Globe reported, "In Alabama, a genius in course design created 18 (now 26) jewels for everyone to enjoy at one-third the rate of comparable facilities." The Atlanta Constitution called the Trail "the finest public courses in the country."
More on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail:
• The Trail stretches from the rolling hills of northern and central Alabama to the wetlands and woods near the Gulf Coast. Each of the eight stops on the Trail is within a two-hour drive of the Trail course closest to it, and each is within 15 minutes of a major interstate. Courses are located in or near Anniston, Auburn, Birmingham, Dothan, Greenville, Huntsville, Mobile, Point Clear, Prattville (near Montgomery), Hoover and Muscle Shoals/Florence.
• The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail is the largest golf course construction project in history. Initial construction, which began in the late 1980s, was for 324 holes. More than 100 miles of courses have been built, with each course ranging from 4,500 to 8191 yards.
• Green fees along the Trail average $50; during peak season, the highest fee at most courses is $64.
About the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association)
The LPGA is the world's leading professional golf organization for women. Founded in 1950, the association celebrates a diverse and storied membership with more than 1,700 members representing 29 different countries. With a Vision to inspire, empower, educate and entertain by showcasing the very best of women's golf, LPGA Tour Professionals compete across the globe, while dedicated LPGA Teaching and Club Professionals (T&CP) directly impact the game through teaching, coaching and management. The Symetra Tour consistently produces a pipeline of talent ready for the world stage. The LPGA is headquartered in Daytona Beach, Florida. Follow the LPGA on its television home, Golf Channel, and on the web via: www.LPGA.com, www.facebook.com/lpga.official, www.twitter.com/lpga, and www.youtube.com/lpgavideo.