Press Release: Dubois County Free Press
By: Matthew Crane, May 15, 2023

A year ago, when the final hole was being played in the Legends of the LPGA tournament in Salinas, Kansas, fans lined the entire fairway as Karrie Webb and Annika Sörenstam battled for the top spot in the 2022 tournament.

Webb prevailed over the hard-charging Sörenstam, but the level of golf being played at the Salinas Country Club had drawn the fans in for the final round of play.

Organizers at Sultan’s Run, as well as the City of Jasper and Dubois County government, are making plans to anticipate a similarly large crowd when the Legends begin 2023 tournament play on June 29 through July 1 at the Jasper course.

According to Chris Tretter, co-owner of Sultan’s Run, the course was chosen after he was contacted by the LPGA on a referral from Dave Harner, director of golf operations at French Lick Resort. In October, a contingent from LPGA toured the course. Tretter told them after the tour if they had any questions, he’d be glad to answer them, but they had already made a decision to come to Dubois County.

At a special media event held at Sultan’s Run last week, Matt Clark, Manager of Tournament Business Affairs for the LPGA, noted that the course is great, but that isn’t the only factor considered when making a decision on where to host the tournament.

“Great facilities, great community and the support from the community is really what makes it go,” Clark explained, adding that he had heard there were more than 250 volunteers signed up for the event. “It really takes the whole community.”

Jasper Mayor Dean Vonderheide said it is an honor to host the tournament, and they are making every effort to be prepared for the golfers and fans that are coming from all over the country. He acknowledged construction will still be underway downtown. Still, events are planned for the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center, and a special “Golf Swings & Baseball Things Night” (Meet the Legends of the LPGA) at League Stadium was included in the itinerary for the week. “We’ve been preparing for this and the city’s gonna be in its best shape ever — except fro some construction,” he said, adding there are plenty of other tourism opportunities for everyone visiting.

“If you are a tourism-based business here, get ready cuz they’re coming.” CHRIS TRETTER

According to Tretter, they have had inquiries from spectators from Pennsylvania and Atlanta as well as Chicago.

As host, Tretter and his team have been working against the clock since the decision. “Normally, you get about a year to prepare for an event like this, but we were on a short timeline,” he said.

Tretter said he is planning for up to 10,000 visitors to the tournament, and it will also be live-streamed. “If you are a tourism-based business here, get ready cuz they’re coming,” he said.

The long-term impact of hosting a tournament like this is felt when golfers add that course to their bucket list of ones to play and then base their travel plans on checking off those lists.

“I got an inquiry from a guy in Myrtle Beach right after we announced we were hosting,” Tretter said. “He’s coming. He’s going to stay in a hotel room and go to a restaurant; that strengthens our community.”

Tretter also noted a certain amount of pride comes from hosting a major tournament. “You know there are only 250 courses in the United States that can even say they’ve hosted a pro golf tournament,” he said. “and here we have a pro golf tournament that is a major championship. There is a lot to that.”

He said he was looking forward to seeing this level of golf played at Sultan’s Run. “These women can flat-out play,” Tretter said. “We’ve hosted some nice events here that have challenged some players in the past, and it’ll be interesting to see how they score out here. I look forward to watching them compete.”

Though the registration is still open, currently, the no-cut international field will consist of up to 78 professional women golfers.

“The Field List is still currently preliminary at this point as entries are still open, but there are combined 16 major championships in the preliminary field,” said Clark, the manager of tournament business affairs for the LPGA.

Current entries include Juli Inkster, a seven-time major champion; Hollis Stacy, a four-time major champion; and making her championship debut this year will be Angela Stanford, who just a few years ago won the Amundi Evian Championship on the LPGA Tour. Trish Johnson, who’s a two-time champion of this event, will also be in the field.

“So lots of major championship-winning experience,” Clark said. “I know this will be an incredible test here at Sultan’s Run golf club. We’re looking forward to bringing this event here to Jasper here about a month and a half from now.”

Two pro golfers were on hand for the press conference.

Lori Atsedes, originally from Ithaca, New York, is now the head pro at the Donald Ross Course in French Lick. LPGA golfer Jackie Gallagher-Smith now lives in Florida but is originally from Marion. She teaches preschool and is dedicated to raising her sons, whom she joked have no interest in golf.

During the press conference, both women reminisced about the camaraderie they developed during their days competing in the LPGA and how they look forward to seeing those players they used to compete against.

But, on the greens, the competition should be fierce, with the top golfer taking home $60,000 of the $400,000 purse.

Parking is still being coordinated but will likely include shuttles for the spectators. Tretter said tickets are $15 daily or $40 for a three-day pass (kids 12 and under are free). An announcement will be made on the Legends of LPGA website and by Sultan’s Run when those go on sale. They will be also sold in person at Sultan’s Run.

“This is awesome for a community,” said Jasper Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Nancy Eckerle. “I encourage people to volunteer and to embrace it because this is such a fun thing to do.
Area restaurants and attractions are encouraged to welcome the visitors and show them Hoosier hospitality at its finest.”

Ferdinand News Editor Kathy Tretter contributed to this report.

Unfortunately, we didn’t check a transcript of the names of the LPGA golfers mentioned and completely fumbled their names. We apologize for the mistake, and it has been corrected.