Business

Symetra golf event is a win for LKN economy

Allison Emrey at the Symetra Tour’s Florida’s Natural Charity Classic PHOTO BY: Scott Miller

April 12. By Dave Yochum. ​The Symetra Classic at River Run Country Club is expected to pump between $500,000 and $750,000 into the Lake Norman economy next month. The overall economic impact will be considerably higher in light of spending at restaurants and entertainment.

Set for May 17-19, the Symetra Classic is one of the marquee events on the Symetra Tour, which is the official qualifying tour for the LPGA.

Nearly 150 players will compete over 54 holes Thursday through Saturday. Symetra brings in about 100 hotel guests each night.

The top 10 finishers automatically earn their cards for the 2019 LPGA season.

On the men’s or PGA side, the Web.com Tour is the equivalent of Symetra. Both feature professional golfers who are trying to earn enough money to graduate to the bigger tours.

The Web.com Chiquita Classic—a developmental tour for the PGA Tour—was held at River Run from 2013 to 2015. Since then the club has undertaken a thorough renovation of the course that has received national attention.

The last time the LPGA held a tournament at a Lake Norman course was the Fieldcrest Cannon Classic at The Peninsula Club, from 1995 to 1997. It was big news back then. The Home Depot Invitational on the Champions Tour was played at the Quail Hollow Club (1983-1989) and at the TPC at Piper Glen (1990-2001). The Symetra Classic was held at Raintree Country Club in Charlotte from 2012–2016 and moved to Atlanta National Golf Club in 2017.

Symetra Tour alums own a total of 418 LPGA victories and 39 major championships, highlighted by golfers like Christie Kerr, Stacy Lewis, Angela Stanford, Christina Kim, Lorena Ochoa, Stacy Lewis, Karrie Webb, Brooke Henderson, Mo Martin and Inbee Park.

The overall purse is $175,000; the winner gets $22,500.

“River Run is excited to add to our history of hosting professional golf as we welcome the future stars of the LPGA and Symetra Financial,” said Slade Goldstein, president. “Our community is looking forward to rolling out the welcome mat for these talented women to test their skill on our course.”

Volunteers are the backbone of any professional golf tournament, according to Jon Show, tournament director. “We’re excited to show the LPGA how well our region can support an event like this,” he said, explaining that the Symetra Tour pro-am is one of the special experiences in all of sports. He is looking for 200 volunteers to pull off the event, which is like a smaller ladies’ version of the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club.

Show himself is a sports marketing guru, with clients all over the country. His company, Show Sports Media, helps businesses, sports properties and athletes leverage media to grow their brands.

The 42-year-old Clemson graduate was a reporter at Sports Business Journal.

Sponsor packages include a “Meet the Pros” party, a golf shopping experience, VIP tickets to the tournament and all food and beverages. “There is no experience quite like entertaining clients alongside a professional golfer because you get to see how good they really are,” Show said.

 

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