LPGA Vet Juli Inkster Hopes Swinging Skirts Sticks Around
Feb. 4, 2014
Veteran Juli Inkster wants to make sure that the upcoming Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic at Lake Merced Golf Course isn’t a one-time deal.
The now 53-year-old Santa Cruz native and San Jose State alum recently told the Associated Press that she believes the LPGA Tour can be long-term success in the Bay Area.
“It’s great to have it back here,” said Inkster of the Swinging Skirts, which will mark the LPGA Tour’s first event in the region since the 2010 CVS/Pharmacy LPGA Challenge at Blackhawk Country Club in Danville. “We just need something to stick. We need something to stick for 10-15 years. I’d love to have this established for a long time. I think we can build a fan base, start from the bottom and build up, for years to come.”
Inkster said the Swinging Skirts (April 21-27) will be one of about 12 events she plays in this year. Among the LPGA Tour players with Northern California ties who could join her are Mina Harigae, Christina Kim, Natalie Gulbis, Paula Creamer, Pat Hurst and Dorothy Delasin.
As for attracting players, the event will have a robust $1.8 million purse, with $270,000 going to the winner. The LPGA also recently announced the introduction of a season-long points race with a $1 million payout. The Swinging Skirts will be part of the race.
There’s also the history of Lake Merced GC. The course was one of the first in the nation without gender restrictions and routinely has hosted U.S. Open qualifiers and NCGA championships.
“I think it’s going to be a great venue,” Inkster said. “It’s tough, it’s going to play like an Open. It’s important for the LPGA to be in this area. Women’s golf has changed so much the last 8-10 years. It’s a different LPGA than it was 10 years ago. It’s important for young girls to come out here and see role models. ‘Hey I can do that.’ We just don’t have a lot of that around here.”
Tournament executive director Kevin Hopkins noted that the goal is for the Swinging Skirts to reach a long-term deal with Lake Merced GC. Tickets for the event are now on sale at www.swingingskirtslpgaclassic.com.