Road to the LPGA: The Island Resort Championship returns


HARRIS, Mich. (WJMN) – Women’s professional golf will take center stage this June during the Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass.

“This is probably the highlight of the golf season in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan,” said Tony Mancilla, the General Manager at the Island Resort & Casino. “It kicks off our golf season.”

144 players will compete for a share of a $200,000 purse.

“You know, ten years ago when we first rolled out the Island resort championship our tour was a lot different,” said Tim Kramer, the Director of Tournament Business Affairs at LPGA Symetra Tour. “We undertook some new leadership back in 2013. We had 15 events that were on our schedule and the largest purse was $150,000. Our average purse was about $103,000. Fast forward to 2021, and again, a lot of it because of what Tony and his team have taken in pushing purses up, We now have over twenty of our events and half of them are offering a $200,00 purse. Our average purse is up to $190,000. So, really the strides that the tour has taken have been unbelievable. The Island Resort has been upfront leading us in that direction.”

Players will also have some extra incentive to bring their ‘A’ game.

“The Island Resort is a part of the Potawatomi Cup which is a unique element that we introduced a couple of years ago,” said Kramer. “We’ll have three events that will be a part of the Potawatomi Cup that will offer a bonus pool of $30,000 to players competing in each one of those events. So it’s kind of a nice player side competition that we can introduce year in and year out.”

The top 10 money winners at the end of the tour will automatically earn LPGA membership next year.

“Just the passion and the folks up there show towards the event, the red carpet that they roll out for our players, you know, and then obviously the quality of the golf course, really make it an LPGA-type of experience four our players that they’ll experience when they go on to the next level,” said Kramer. “For us, we know that year in and year out we’re going to get the best of the best of the Island Resort Championship both from a golf course and a hospitality standpoint and know that our players are going to experience that.”

According to past participants, the Island Resort Championship is known to be the preeminent stop of the Symetra Tour. A few first-timers are excited to see what the hype is about.

“I can’t wait to get up there,” said Sierra Brooks, who began her professional golf career in 2020. “All the girls I’ve been talking to have been super excited about the event. So, I can’t wait to see it.”

“I’m really excited about the opportunity,” said Kaitlyn Papp, who turned pro just this year. “It sounds like a really fun and really great event. The golf course sounds amazing and I can’t wait to get up there.”

The 2021 Island Resort Championship will be open to spectators.

“The Covid protocol outside is you don’t need a mask,” said Mancilla. “We just ask that everyone stays apart and keep their hands clean. It’s a huge, huge golf course. It sits on 320 acres. There is a lot of space out there. Everything on the course is $2 or less, so it’s very family-friendly. It’s $10 for the three days to get in and our website has all the details on that.”

The Island Resort Championship tee’s off June 11-13. For more information on the event, CLICK HERE.

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