The LPGA may have taken a major championship out of California’s Coachella Valley after 51 years, but women’s professional golf is poised to return to the desert with the biggest event on its developmental tour.
The Indian Wells city council will vote Thursday whether to spend as much as $100,000 to sponsor and host the Epson Tour Championship in the fall of 2024 at the city-owned Indian Wells Golf Resort. The Epson Tour Championship is the final event of the developmental Epson Tour’s season, with the top 10 players from the tour’s money list earning LPGA exemptions for the following year.
“After discussing funding options, the time during the year when the tournament is played, the consumption of existing tee times, and negotiated Resident Benefits, the Finance Committee recommends the Council consider the $100,000 Host City Sponsorship,” a city staff report to the city council suggests.
The event, to be played Oct. 3-6, would be the first Epson Tour event held in the desert, though the tour does play an annual tournament in March at the Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet in Beaumont. The championship has been held in Florida every year since its inception in 2008, with the lone exception of 2020, when it was played at River Run Country Club in Davidson, North Carolina.
“The chance to bring women’s golf back to the Coachella Valley and the chance to bring championship golf to the city is something that we look forward to,” said Christopher Freeland, city manager for Indian Wells who prepared the staff report. “And the idea that at the end of the week 10 players will get their LPGA cards is great.”
The LPGA has a long history in the Coachella Valley dating back to an event in 1953 at Tamarisk Country Club in Rancho Mirage. The best-known LPGA presence in the desert was the 51-year run of an event hosted by television and recording star Dinah Shore under various sponsorship names at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage. That tournament, which started in 1972 and was elevated to a major chainpionship in 1983, ended its run in the desert in 2022 as the Chevron Championship before moving to Houston for the 2023 season.
While the proposal to be voted on Thursday is a one-year deal, Freeland said be believes the city and Troon would be interested in extending the Epson Tour’s deal to play at the city’s golf resort. He added that by showcasing the resort and the Coachella Valley in October, it might be possible that a successful…