After fifty-one years of exciting ladies golf and the first major of the year, the Mission Hills Country Club has hosted its final tournament. There is sadness here in the Coachella Valley that an iconic event will be leaving. Chevron took over the primary sponsorship of this from ANA this year and has decided that it needs to be moved to Houston starting in 2023.
This list of winners includes some of the biggest names in ladies golf including some of the founding ladies of the LPGA. Mickey Wright, Kathy Whitworth, and Judy Rankin to name a few. In 1983 it became a major championship and Amy Alcott became the first winner. Yesterday Jennifer Kupcho became the final winner here.
The tradition of jumping into Poppies Pond for the winners and their team happened one last time. It is one of the coolest traditions in sports and it will be missed. Chevron is being made out by some here to be the bad guy for moving this event out of town but he sad reality is that it has been dying a slow death by paper cuts for several years now.
My friends Ken, Kent and I attended on Thursday and we were shocked at how small the crowds were, especially knowing that this was the last year. Sunday, suddenly, the lightbulb went on for everyone and the crowds were large and noisy.
If all those people had been coming out for the past five years Chevron would have never had to consider moving it to Houston. I for one am going to miss seeing the ladies come here to play and I hope the LPGA can find another reason to come back.
Sunday also marked the end of another era. Judy Rankin will be stepping down as the primary voice of the LPGA golf coverage on the Golf Channel and will be replaced by Morgan Pressel. For those of us that have been watching golf on television for the past thirty years or so, Judy Rankin has been a constant for us.
She was the first woman to cover men's golf, she was the first woman to be an on course reporter, and she was the first woman to be a primary color analyst on network coverage of golf. She was honest, knowledgeable, calming, and insightful and she was one of my favorite golf announcers of all time. A doubly sad day for ladies golf.