The Janesville Country Club turns 125 next year.
And what better way to help celebrate the occasion than by bringing women’s professional golf to the state’s oldest country club?
Tentatively titled the Janesville Golf Classic, the 54-hole tournament Aug. 4-6, 2019, will be one of 21 scheduled tour stops on the LPGA Symetra Tour next year.
The mission of the Symetra Tour is to prepare young women professional golfers for careers on the LPGA Tour.
Christine Rebout, the executive director of the Janesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the tour event stop is a coup for Janesville.
“We expect at least a half a million dollars easily as far as the economic impact it will have,” Rebout said. “You’ve got the players, their families, spectators, vendors that will be coming in ahead of time.
“And what’s neat about Janesville compared to some of the other larger venues they play at is that the girls are just minutes away from other things to do. They don’t have to get in a car and drive 45 minutes in traffic to get somewhere.”
The tournament will feature a 144-player field competing in a 54-hole stroke play format for a purse of $150,000. After 36 holes, a cut will be made to the top 60 players and ties.
In addition, 30 LPGA Legends Tour members will join the field Sunday to compete for their own $150,000 purse over 18 holes.
The event will mark the first time Symetra Tour and LPGA Legends Tour players compete with each other since the 2016 Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial. The Legends field could include Hall of Famers such as Laura Davies, Juli Inkster and Pat Bradley.
Janesville Country Club General Manager Derek Intinarelli thinks Janesville and the country club provide the perfect venue for the Symetra Tour.
“This club is ideally located and set in a golf course that is a perfect match for the Symetra ladies,” Intinarelli said. “We can take the green speeds down, can shorten the length, and it works so well with how the holes go back and forth. You’re never away from the club for more than three holes.
“And because we’re celebrating our 125th anniversary, as well, we’re going to go big on a band for our Friday night party, and that will be a community event.”
Intinarelli said the Janesville Golf Classic will be fan friendly, with vendors sprinkled throughout. Parking will be available at three remote locations, with Van Galder Bus providing transportation to and from the event.
The event serves as a springboard for all those whose ultimate goal is to play on the LPGA Tour. The winner of the Janesville Golf Classic would get an automatic exemption into certain LPGA tour events in 2020, while the top 10 finishers on the money list on the Symetra Tour for each season graduate onto the LPGA Tour the following season.
Inbee Park is currently the No. 1-ranked women’s golfer in the world and got her start professionally playing on the Symetra Tour.
“On average, 15 of the players on the Symetra Tour each year will move on to the LPGA Tour the following year,” said Mike Nichols, the chief business officer for the LPGA Symetra Tour. “Some can graduate through the qualifying school, but the majority come from the Symetra Tour.
“People may not recognize the majority of the names playing here, unless it’s somebody locally, but in time, they will. And when you add in the 30 players from The Legends Tour playing in their own tournament on Sunday, it makes for a great environment for the players, fans and the city of Janesville.”