The Ladies Professional Golf Association’s International Crown pits eight countries against each other on the golf course, each team featuring the four players with the highest spots in the Rolex World Rankings. Spain took home the inaugural trophy this July in Baltimore, and will have a chance to defend it when the event moves to Illinois in 2016.
Michael Whan, LPGA commissioner and Naperville native, said he’s thrilled to bring the event to Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove.
“We talked about giving Chicago the Olympics that it didn’t get, and we’re going to bring that to you in July of 2016,” said Whan. “If you think I’m wrong, show up. I promise you it will feel like no other golf event you’ve been to before.”
Rich Harvest Farms hosted the LPGA’s Solheim Cup in 2009, and the course left a great impression on many of the tour’s best golfers.
“I’ve yet to see a Solheim Cup that has more spectators than we did in 2009,” said Anna Nordqvist, LPGA golfer and team Sweden member. “That makes me happy to know that we will be coming back, because we do have such a big following here.”
The players aren’t the only ones happy with this announcement, as the tournament will bring people from all over the globe to businesses in the west suburbs. Naperville hotels sold over 8,000 room-nights during the Solheim Cup in 2009.
“The economic impact, as you can imagine, with all those people, is huge,” said Christine Jeffries, President of the Naperville Development Partnership. “We set up concierge, we make sure that, while they’re spending the night here and enjoying the day at the golf course, that they’re seeing the finest restaurants in the Chicago-land area, and those happen to be in Naperville.”
More than 40,000 people attended the first International Crown. Mike Gronek, marketing director of the Naperville Development Partnership, was in that audience, and said he believes the event’s popularity will skyrocket.
“It being the first year, it wasn’t as high of attendance as it could be,” said Gronek. “Now that we’ve had one under our belt, they saw what it could be like, they saw the competition. There’s no reason that when it comes here, it’s not going to be twice as big.”
THE LPGA announcement came at the Hotel Arista, in the heart of the Calamos Investments corporate campus. Calamos will sponsor the next International Crown.
“There was a lot of excitement, you can see the excitement and the energy there,” said John Calamos, founder and CEO. “So, it really made me even more excited about what’s going to happen here in a couple years.”
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