KINGSTON — Start clearing your calendar for the second week in June — the legends of the LPGA are coming to White Horse Golf Club.
The inaugural Suquamish Clearwater Legends Cup will take place from June 6 to 10 at the golf course and will welcome the likes of Jane Blalock, JoAnne Carner (a native of Kirkland), Jan Stephenson, Pat Bradley, Betsy King, Rosie Jones and Liselotte Neumann, some of the LPGA’s most successful golfers.
The Legends Cup is a stop on the Legends Tour, a professional golf tour for women aged 45 and older. There are nine Hall of Famers in the field of 30 golfers. Combined, they have over 30 LPGA major championships between them, not to mention hundreds of tour wins. They will tee it up in a 36-hole stroke-play competition over the course of June 9 and 10.
It also marks a return to the Pacific Northwest for women’s professional golf. The LPGA Tour participated in the SafeCo Classic in the Seattle area from 1982 to 1999. The Legends Cup field features five past winners of that event, including Carner and Patty Sheehan.
“This is quite the opportunity for the Suquamish Tribe and Kitsap County,” Irene Carper, Chief Operating Officer of Port Madison Enterprises, the business arm of the Suquamish Tribe, said at a recent news conference in Seattle formally announcing detailing the event.
But there will be far more going on at White Horse than just the tournament. On June 6, there will be a Scramble Women’s Amateur Tournament. The two-woman team with the lowest score will get to play alongside one of the legends in the June 8 Legends Cup Pro-Am. June 7 will be dedicated to practice and VIP rounds.
All events will be open to the public for spectating.
“It’s so exciting for all of us, and we believe we will be embraced by the entire community,” said Blalock, the founder and CEO of the Legends Tour as well as an active player. Blalock still holds the world record for most consecutive cuts made on a professional golf tour with 299.
The Suquamish Clearwater Legends Cup will also mark the debut of Wendy Ward, who turned 45 on May 6 and is now eligible for the tour. Ward is a Texas native, but now calls the Pacific Northwest home. She and her husband, Nate Hair, are cattle ranchers in Edwall, a small community about 35 miles from Spokane. She is excited to get a chance to play close to her adopted home.
“Golf in the Northwest is like none other,” Ward said.
The event is certainly an important showcase for Kitsap County. Chris Archunde, the director of marketing for Port Madison, said the goal was to have between 1,500 and 1,800 people per day at the various events, with an aggressive goal of 2,500 to 3,000 people per day.
“The most important thing is the residual effects of getting people to come out and experience the amazing things we have to offer in Kitsap County,” Archunde said. “And you still have a 30-minute ferry ride back [to Seattle] or a 45-minute drive back to Tacoma.”
The Legends Cup may also prove to boost the prestige of White Horse, which was once in foreclosure along with the surrounding property until its rescue by the Suquamish Tribe in 2010. And the fact that it’s first event of this magnitude is a Legends Tour event is fitting, since the course was designed by a woman, Cynthia Dye McGarey.
With legal issues long gone, White Horse now has a sterling reputation with the local community as a great place to play golf.
General manager Bruce Christy said the tee and pin placements for the tournament will lead to a course that is “more than fair” and should be plenty of fun for both golfers and spectators.
“We’ve been there, we believed in [White Horse], it has great bones,” Christy said. “This is the type of event we had envisioned at this golf course years and years ago.”
Parking for the various events will not be available at White Horse, and spectators should instead park at the Clearwater Casino. Shuttle buses will run with great frequency to bring people to and from the golf course. Tickets are $15 per day or $20 for a two-day pass to the tournament. There will also be special rates for kids and seniors. Visit clearwaterlegendscup.com for more information.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.