Not too far down the interstate there’s an exit. The exit ramp leads to the “Road to the LPGA”. What this means is that the 2023 Epson Tour is about to begin their season. For those that are unaware or that have little to no familiarity with the Epson Tour is to the LPGA Tour what the Korn Ferry Tour is to the PGA TOUR.
The list of graduates is impressive, including world-class golfers like Nelly Korda, Brooke Henderson, Lorena Ochoa, Dottie Pepper, Solheim Cup Captain in 2023 and 2024 Stacey Lewis, and World Golf Hall of Fame member Laura Davies. Currently, there are over 300 Epson Tour graduates with LPGA status.
The Epson Tour is going to be overseen in 2023 by a new Chief Business and Operations Officer. Jody Brothers takes over the reins from his predecessor Mike Nichols. Brothers brings to the Epson Tour a great golf mind and a lot of experience.Brothers has been in several leadership roles with the PGA Tour since 2007 including a period of time where he was the VP of the PGA TOUR.
The title sponsor of the Epson Tour, Seiko Epson Corporation has been a blessing for the tour making a huge impact. Because of this title sponsor, assistance has been given to members of.the tour. Among the help given was lower entry fees and large purses. Instead of players paying $30-$35 per yardage book, Epson is covering the cost of the books for all of the players. Over the course of 22 events that’s very helpful. Players that rank 11th-35th on the official money list that make it to the final stage of LPGA Q-School will have their entry fees covered.
The Heather Wilbur Spirit award is one of two awards that the Epson Tour will be handing out. \previously, the player that won the award received $2,500 USD however in 2023 Epson is doubling that amount to $5,000. Also, the Epson Community Achievement Award will be given to the athlete who goes above and beyond serving their community and the cities that the tour stops in. The winner of this reward will also be receiving $5,000.
Descending on the Country Club of Winter Haven are 132 players that are beginning their race for their LPGA Tour cards. The first tournament of the year, Florida’s Natural Charity Classic, has no shortage of firepower in the field. Eleven of the nineteen winners in 2022 are in the field. Also in the field are current LPGA Tour players Pernilla Lindberg and two-time Major Champion Brittany Lincicome.
In 2022, Kum-Kang Park defeated Alanna Uriell and Frida Kinhult by two strokes.The Country Club of Winter Haven dates back to 1923 and was known as the Lake Region Country Club. The course was designed by golf architects Bill Bergin and Rees Jones. Players will navigate this tree-lined parkland-style golf course. The golf course is nestled on the shores of Lake Hamilton and the Par 72 6,572 yard golf course is a shotmakers delight.
The Road to the LPGA begins in Winter Haven. Happy New Year.
Until The Next Tee!!