September will mark 20 years since the Boston area was a regular stop on the LPGA Tour.
There might not be a regular Champions Tour stop here anymore — tomorrow is the nine-year anniversary of Jeff Sluman winning the final Bank of America Championship at Nashawtuc Country Club in Concord — but the seniors have returned to the area recently in a big way. Belmont Country Club hosted the Senior Players Championship two years ago, and the 38th U.S. Senior Open will begin June 29 at Salem Country Club in Peabody.
The PGA Tour has swung through Massachusetts every year since 1968 at Pleasant Valley Country Club in Sutton or TPC Boston in Norton, with the exception of a brief window between 1999 and 2002. The blow of not having an event in ’99 was eased by the electrifying Ryder Cup, won by the Americans at The Country Club in Brookline.
The LPGA had an 18-year run from 1980-97 with the Boston Five Classic at Ferncroft Country Club in Danvers before heading to Blue Hill Country Club in Canton, where the event had a few different names until the final edition of the Welch’s Championship was won by Liselotte Neumann.
Cristie Kerr was in the field of that last tournament in Canton, finishing in a tie for 31st place, and is one of many players who would welcome another LPGA event in the Boston area.
“The golf courses are fantastic, they’re old-school,” Kerr said following Monday’s CVS Health Charity Classic at Rhode Island Country Club in Barrington. “The crowds love golf. It’s fun to play here.”
LPGA stops in Massachusetts have been few and far between since the Welch’s. From 1995-98, the Friendly’s Classic took place at Crestview Country Club in Agawam, and in 1999, the tour held an event at Pleasant Valley to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the 1974 LPGA Championship. The U.S. Women’s Open was staged at Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley in 2004 and at Newport Country Club (R.I.) in 2006.
Since then, nothing.
“I would definitely love to (return here). There’s so many great golf courses in New England, some great old-school designs,” said Morgan Pressel, who tied for 28th at the Open in Newport as an 18-year-old in her first full year as a pro. “(Rhode Island CC) is certainly one of them. I know they played the U.S. Women’s Amateur here (in 2011). It’s such a great venue for that, and we would love to come here.
“Hopefully in the near future, we can get an event in this area. Seeing the support that we get from the crowds here, I have no doubt it would be a success.”
Said Brooke Henderson, who reached match play in that 2011 U.S. Women’s Am: “It’s always nice to be back here. I’ve played a lot of amateur and junior events here. Great people, great fans, and the golf courses are really good.”