Thornberry Creek Readying for LPGA Classic in July
28 Jun, 2017
With 70,000 spectators expected for the LPGA Classic in July, GCSAA member Steve Archibald is putting finishing touches on Thornberry Creek at Oneida.
The LPGA Classic is the first event of this magnitude for Thornberry Creek, and the last year has brought several facility renovations for Archibald, superintendent at Thornberry, and his staff.
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The golf course in the village of Hobart was announced as a host site by LPGA commissioner Michael Whan during a press conference in 2015.
According to a 2015 news article in the Green Bay Press Gazette:
The Oneida LPGA Classic will be the first time a sanctioned LPGA or PGA competition is held in the Green Bay metro area. The Green Bay Country Club hosted the Great Lakes Classic in the Women's Senior Golf Tour from 2000-2002.
Thornberry Creek, a course owned by Oneida Nation and managed by the Oneida Golf Enterprise Corporation, will play host to the LPGA event in the summer of 2017. The exact date for the competition is expected to be announced next year.
“It’s pretty rare for us to announce an event 18 months before it plays,” Whan said to Press-Gazette Media in a phone interview. “But in this case we were done. They were done. There was a lot of excitement to get it out there. We were afraid people were going to start talking about it before we did.”
The Oneida LPGA Classic was the only new event announced for 2017. Friday’s announcement came after the LPGA released its 34-event schedule for 2016.
The Oneida Nation has agreed to a three-year deal with the LPGA Tour. The event will feature a full field of 144 players, who will compete for a $2 million purse, tied for the largest domestic non-major purse on the LPGA Tour.
The last time the top professional women were in Wisconsin was July 2012, when the U.S. Women’s Open was played at Blackwolf Run in Kohler.
“This is the first time the LPGA tour is partnering with a Tribal Nation, so that was part of (the LPGA’s) excitement to in wanting to release this,” Thornberry Creek general manager Josh Doxtator said. “It’s monumental for both us and them. It’s a great fit.
“The economic impact we’re going to be looking at the in Green Bay market is going to be massive. We did some economic-impact studies in similar markets and it’s upwards of $15 million. To be able to push those kinds of funds through the Green Bay market in a week’s time is going to be pretty incredible.”
Doxtator said it’s a multi-million dollar investment to obtain hosting rights for a LPGA Tour event.
“The investment itself (to host) is not small,” Doxtator said. “But in order for us to retain all the revenues coming in, that’s what’s necessary to do that. It’s unique because we don’t have a title sponsor. We’re doing it all ourselves. We feel our partnerships in the Green Bay market and the surrounding areas are very strong, so we know we’re going to have plenty of sponsorships and opportunities to our vendors and partners.”
Whan feels the Oneida LPGA Classic could draw between 35,000 and 55,000 spectators. The four days of play will be televised on the Golf Channel and broadcast to 160 countries.
“Every time there is an event in Wisconsin, we love the turnout,” Whan said.
“We looked at Green Bay and said that’s a market where we really feel like we can become part of the fabric of the (community). We’re not competing with 75 other things that go on in the same week in the same summer. It just feels like the kind of place where we’re going to meet the volunteers, and the volunteers are going to meet us, and we the opportunity to do something long term.
“I think it’s going to be a great market for us. There’s no doubt that the Oneida Nation is going to be great with our family. They’re quality people, we’ve loved everything about getting to know them.”
Thornberry Creek at Oneida is the official golf course of the Green Bay Packers.
Ideally, Whan hopes the Oneida LPGA Classic can be scheduled for July or August with the hope it can cross over with the attraction of Green Bay Packers training camp.
“This new-found partnership between the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and the LPGA couldn’t be more exciting,” Doxtator said. “The world will have an opportunity to see what the Oneida Nation has to offer; world class gaming, superior lodging, retail to tourist interests and of course the best golf course in Northeast Wisconsin. We’re confident this event will be a favorite amongst the players and spectators alike and we look forward to setting a precedent for entertainment and hospitality in the professional arena.”