Another major golf event held in the Pacific Northwest is in the books.
The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, held at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash., produced a great champion in Brooke Henderson,
another exciting finish in a major, looked great on TV, was pulled together in less than a year’s time by the organizers, administered in historic fashion with the collaboration between the PGA of America and the LPGA, and embraced the community during the entire championship week with various fundraisers, junior clinics and player appearances.
What does all this mean for the Pacific Northwest? What does it say about the golf community here?
The number of tickets sold for this championship was 60 percent higher than last year’s championship, when it was held at Westchester Country Club, which is located within a stone’s throw from New York City (i.e. the most densely-populated area in the country).
The pro-am (a significant source of revenue for any event) for this championship was sold out, something which last year’s championship cannot say.
The volunteer base, already strong from last year’s U.S. Open at nearby Chambers Bay, showed up in full force.
Once again the TV networks loved the event being on the West Coast, as it would be aired on prime time on the East Coast.
Once again, as it was last year at the Open, the beauty and majesty of the region was shown on TV to a slack-jawed viewing audience that is largely unfamiliar with what goes on in the “moss covered upper-left corner of the country.”
Once again, the golf industry’s cognoscenti learned what magnificent golf courses exist here.
The region’s history is littered with examples of fits and starts of conducting regular professional tournaments.
From 1982-1999, the LPGA held a tour stop – the Safeco Classic – at nearby Meridian Valley Country Club, which was one of the tour’s most successful and popular events. The demise of the event came when Safeco decided to end its title sponsorship in order to give its name to Safeco Field, the newly-opened playpen of the MLB’s Seattle Mariners.
The PGA Championship was held at Sahalee in 1998, and the PGA of America had promised to return that championship to Sahalee in 2010, but reneged, citing all kinds of excuses, from the course being too small to hold major championships, to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C. taking sponsorships away, to Tiger not liking the layout.
The old Merrill Lynch Invitational was held for a handful of years at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge, which paved the way for the Boeing Classic, the PGA Tour’s senior stop which is still an annual event at the course.
Will the U.S. Open come back to Chambers Bay? Will it come back to the Northwest? What will be the next significant championship to be held in our neck of the woods? Nobody knows yet. But the LPGA, the USGA, and the PGA of America all know this: People in the Northwest love the game, they support the game, and they play the game.
Let’s hope the game keeps coming back.
More WSGA coverage of the 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship:
Brooke Henderson wishes there were more championships in the Pacific Northwest.
Henderson says she has never experienced anything like the crowd at Sahalee CC.
Lydia Ko says the crowd at Sahalee CC was one of the biggest they’ve seen this year.