The Rising Stars of Women’s Professional Golf Hit the Links at Myersville’s Musket Ridge Golf Club on the Symetra Tour’s Road to the LPGA
By Michael Vyskocil
In an arena dominated by individuals with names like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, lavish locations like Augusta National Golf Club and publicity surrounding the Ryder Cup, men’s golf certainly receives a considerable amount of attention in the sports world. After all, when was the last time you watched a women’s round of golf from start to finish on television? Upon walking into a sporting goods store, have you noticed the rows and rows of men’s clubs – and enough accoutrements to entice any guy with a weak spot in his wallet – but a comparatively small section of women’s golf equipment?
Speaking of money, one merely has to examine the leader board of men’s and women’s professional golfers to get an even greater sense of the disparity between the sexes. July USA Today figures for 2012 PGA tour winners reveal that top-ranked Tiger Woods has played in 12 events and won three as of July 6. His winnings total more than $4 million. Second-ranked Jason Dufner has competed in 15 events and won two, netting just over the $4 million mark himself.
You have to drop down another 60 places on the men’s list to find the equivalent of the female money leaders for 2012. Top- ranked LPGA golfer Ai Miyazato, who has participated in 12 events and won only two, has received just a little more than $1 million in tournament action so far this year. Yani Tseng occupies second place with her earnings of slightly more than $1 million after winning three of 12 events.
And here’s another curious prestige factor from ESPN.com. Stats and bios abound for all 314 golfers on this year’s PGA money leaders list. But that isn’t the case for the LPGA money leaders; the only information displayed on their list consists of ranking, name and earnings. Despite this disparity and lack of hype, no doubt the ladies of the links will drive some attention to Frederick County as it becomes the host site for significant LPGA Futures action this summer when the inaugural Challenge at Musket Ridge debuts at the Myersville golf resort Aug. 20-26.
As Maryland’s only women’s professional golf tournament, the event will host 144 professional female golfers — some who are traveling across the globe to play in Frederick County — competing for the coveted spots in the LPGA as well as the $100,000 purse. The Challenge at Musket Ridge is part of the Symetra Tour, the official developmental tour of the LPGA. And it’s this tour concept that marks some of the major differences between the men’s and women’s golf world.
“The Symetra Tour has been designed to prepare its members for a successful career in the LPGA,” says Director of Tournament Marketing and Sales Chris Osche. “Musket Ridge is number 13 of 16 locations on the tour schedule, and those who finish in the top 10 of money winners receive [full equal status] in the LPGA Tour in 2013.” He further notes that female golfers, unlike their male counterparts, do not skip over the developmental tour level in their advancement toward the LPGA. Think of Symetra as a finishing school of sorts.
So why is the Challenge at Musket Ridge such a big deal for Frederick County and the 144 LPGA hopefuls?
The event, Osche explains, not only supports “professionals who are building their careers” with another opportunity to get closer to LPGA membership, but it also has tangible economic benefits for the host location.
He explains that the host markets benefit from an increase in hotel stays and the exposure provided by real-time scoring from the event location that’s seen by people across the country and around the world, elevating Frederick County’s visibility in Maryland and beyond.
The Challenge at Musket Ridge will also feature some amateur Maryland-based talent as well. Elyse Smidinger, 18, is one of two Marylanders who have been offered a spot in the competition. The Crofton native made waves at the 2011 USGA Women’s Amateur tournament when she won her first match 2 & 1 by defeating co-medalist and number one seed Jihee Kim. “It will be a great experience competing against women who might be the future of the LPGA,” Smidinger says of the Challenge at Musket Ridge. “My goal is to win it.”
And it can come down to a single stroke that separates the amateurs from the professionals on the Symetra Tour.
Damon DeVito, managing director for Affinity Management, Musket Ridge’s management partner, says, “We want the tour to be successful. One of the things that we also want to do is to help Frederick County shine in the eyes of the players, so we’re trying to do little things to make the players’ experience great.”
In addition, the fan environment is also different from that of PGA events. Not to knock the PGA, DeVito says, but the players of the LPGA have a certain level of “approachability” and embrace the fan-player relationship.
“I feel that the Frederick community also seems to be embracing the event,” DeVito says. “It’s the pride of the people in the community that can make this successful, and it is going to be a great opportunity to come out and watch some really great golf.”
Enter to Win
What do you think about the disparities between men’s and women’s professional golf we presented in this article? Share your ideas with us and enter to win tickets to the Challenge at Musket Ridge Symetra Tour event this August. Send us your ideas (no more than 600 words in length), along with your name, telephone number and email address, to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, Aug. 13. We’ll choose two readers who will receive a package of four, one-day admission tickets to the event.
Charities to Benefit From Challenge at Musket Ridge
Explore how local charities are benefiting from the Challenge at Musket Ridge event.
If You Go…
Challenge at Musket Ridge
Aug. 20-26 | First round of play begins Friday, Aug. 24
Musket Ridge Golf Club
3555 Brethren Church Rd., Myersville 301-293-9930
Tickets: $10 adults | Free for ages 15 and younger
By Liz Williams
The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Challenge at Musket Ridge golf tournament will bring more than just golfers and spectators to Frederick County. Proceeds from the five-day Symetra Tour event will bring three local charities the support they need to continue serving women and families of Frederick County.
Frederick Community Action Agency, Mission of Mercy and Heartly House, Inc. will each receive a portion of the money raised at the Challenge at Musket Ridge.
“It’s not mandatory for tournaments to donate their money to charity, but we very much encourage people to do so,” says Chris Osche, director of tournament marketing and sales. “It’s pretty much expected,” he adds.
In the months leading up to the tournament, the Frederick County Commission for Women (FCCFW) has worked closely with the LPGA to determine which local charities will receive a portion of the funds raised at the Challenge at Musket Ridge.
Osche and his team leave the decision of which charity or charities will receive the funds from the tournament up to those who know the area best: its residents.
“Because the Tour owns the event, we were involved in the process of working with the FCCFW,” says Osche, “but we wanted them to make the decision about where the money is distributed.”
The FCCFW is a non-partisan organization comprised of 14 elected commissioners whose mission is to create a stronger community within Frederick County by addressing challenges and fostering unlimited opportunities for all women. The group collectively voted on three charity organizations to receive funds from the tournament.
“We chose those three [Frederick Community Action Agency, Mission of Mercy and Heartly House, Inc.] because all three deal with issues affecting women and families,” says Sharon Dobson, president of the FCCFW. “After the tournament, we will then vote on the percentages to go to each charity,” she adds.
Because the LPGA is a women’s organization, the charities supported by Symetra tournaments are often geared toward helping women. However, Osche notes that it is by no means required for tournaments to select women’s organizations as their affiliated charities.
Heartly House, Inc., one of the local charities selected to receive funds from the tournament, is an organization that serves Frederick County residents who have been impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.
According to Roberta Geidner, CEO of Heartly House, Inc., the organization has recently lost funding for many of its services, including its emergency shelter. The emergency shelter at Heartly House is one of its most crucial services, as it provides emergency housing for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse within Frederick County.
“In this past year, we’ve been able to provide shelter services to 110 people. We’re hoping to increase that number next year to 125 clients, including both adults and children,” says Geidner.
The money that Heartly House receives from the Challenge at Musket Ridge will be pivotal in helping the organization to both restore and continue offering many of its services to residents of Frederick County.
“Any additional funding that we can get will help us get back those services that are so critical,” says Geidner.
The Challenge at Musket Ridge will be held Aug. 20-26 at Musket Ridge Golf Club in Myersville. The tournament is one of 16 that make up the Symetra Tour, the official developmental tour of the LPGA. This year marks the 32nd competitive season for the tour, but only the first to include Frederick County.
Learn more about the organizations that will benefit from the Challenge at Musket Ridge:
Heartly House, Inc.
P.O. Box 857
Frederick, MD 21705
Frederick Community Action Agency
100 South Market St.
Frederick, MD 21701
Mission of Mercy
22 South Market St., Suite 6D
Frederick, MD 21701
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