LPGA returns to Sugar Grove
Rich Harvest Farms to host 2016 LPGA International Crown event
by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove resident and businessman Jerry Rich will soon take it up a notch for those who enjoyed the excitement of the Solheim Cup in 2009.
Rich’s private golf course, Rich Harvest Farms, will host the newly created International Crown in 2016. The event is a global Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tournament that will feature not just the best female golfers from the United States and Europe, but from Asia and other countries around the world.
“At the Solheim Cup we had the largest event (the LPGA) ever had,” Rich said. “We had 120,000 people in Chicago—the greatest golf city in the world. Maybe this (new) event won’t approach the Ryder Cup that we just had at Medinah, but it will be huge.”
The International Crown is a match play tournament that will begin next year. The tourney will feature teams from eight countries competing for the crown that will signify the world’s best golf nation. Each of the eight countries will be represented by four players.
The four-day tournament will net the winners a total purse of $1.6 million, $100,000 of which will go to each member of the winning team.
Sugar Grove Village President Sean Michels said that convincing the LPGA to hold the international tournament in Sugar Grove was due in large part to how successful the Solheim Cup had been.
Michels said Rich didn’t waste any time beginning the conversation with the LPGA. The day after the Solheim Cup was over, Rich was already talking with LPGA representatives about the possibility of hosting another LPGA event.
When Michael Whan became LPGA Commissioner in 2010, Rich brought him to Chicago.
“I told him, ‘We’ve got to do something special,’” Rich said. “The greatest players aren’t just from America. They’re from Asia and around the world.”
If teams for the International Crown were selected according to the current Rolex Rankings, South Korea, U.S., Japan, Sweden, Australia, Spain, Taiwan and England would battle for the inaugural title next year.
“The International Crown will take women’s golf to the next level and allow fans to rally behind their homelands,” Whan said. “This is the first time we’ll pit country versus country for global bragging rights. In sports, there is simply nothing greater than wearing your nation’s flag, fans singing your national anthem, and bringing the crown home.”
Top-ranked American professional golfer Stacy Lewis agrees with Whan’s sentiment.
“Representing your country is the ultimate thing,” she said. “Getting announced on the first tee when you are representing the USA, it doesn’t get any better than that. It’s a goal of mine to be in the event.”
Rich Harvest Farms, owned and co-built by Rich, is a private, members-only club consistently ranked on Golf Digest’s list of America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses. The 18-hold course has been described as a 1,820-acre showcase of nature and agriculture.
“With the experience we garnered from the Solheim Cup, we’ll be able to make the 2016 event even bigger and better,” Michels said. “It’s great for Sugar Grove and it’s great for the region. We will be working with the Aurora Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to ensure that local businesses benefit.”
The inaugural tournament will debut in July 2014 at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md., located just outside of Baltimore.