This week, the LPGA Tour kicks off its 2023 season with the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions in Orlando. It’s the first of 33 events spanning 11 countries with over $100 million up for grabs. All good signs of growth for the women’s game, but digging a little deeper into the 2023 schedule reveals some areas for improvement and a few head-scratching stretches. Here’s a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly:
Shadow Creek and the U.S. Open aren’t back-to-back. The gauntlet of five days of match play in the Las Vegas heat finally gets some distance from the U.S. Open. No doubt there were other factors at play in the schedule change, but I’m giving credit to Shanshan Feng conceding her consolation match in 2021 because she was “really, really tired” and needed to rest before the U.S. Open.
An updated West Coast swing. The International Crown at TPC Harding Park in May not only offers team golf, which the LPGA needs more of, but also occupies exactly the right spot in the schedule, with the L.A. Championship at Wilshire the week before. That’s two weeks of primetime West Coast golf and a chance to see an absolutely stacked South Korean team attempt to defend its 2018 International Crown title.
Who’s sponsoring the Portland Classic? According to the LPGA website, no one is. [Ed. note: The head of The Fried Egg’s Oregon bureau is officially concerned about this.]
A strange start. Maybe the LPGA’s schedule makers thought the TOC would make everyone as tired as Shanshan at Shadow Creek. What other reason could there be for taking an entire month off after only one event? The Asian swing begins in late February with stops in Thailand, Singapore, and China. The event in China could easily be canceled, as it has been since Covid, which would mean we’d get to the end of March with only three sanctioned tournaments completed. How about adding an event in Australia, or co-sanctioning February’s Vic Open? It’s a brutally long layoff for players who don’t qualify for the TOC or the Asian events and kills the tour’s momentum leading into the spring.
The Chevron moves to Houston. By moving from Mission Hills to Carlton Woods, the Chevron Championship—formerly known as the Dinah Shore, the Nabisco Championship, and the ANA Inspiration—lost a big part of its history and identity. The new venue is uninspiring, and the one-week detour to Texas mucks up what used to be a fairly coherent Hawaii/West Coast swing. The silver lining is that the first major and ANWA won’t be on the same weekend competing with each other for viewers.
The three real majors. Unlike the Chevron, the true women’s majors—the U.S. Open, the PGA Championship, and the Open—are set to deliver the goods with heavy-hitting first-time hosts. Pebble Beach, Baltusrol, and Walton Heath are elite venues and will elevate their respective events. And yes, my omission of the Evian here is intentional.
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