Most people always think The Masters is the first Major of the year, but if you are a true golf fanatic you will know it’s The Chevron Championship, formerly called ANA Inspiration, Kraft Nabisco Championship and Nabisco Dinah Shore.
The event has changed sponsors over the years, but it is our equivalent to The Masters.
We have our own traditions; the tournament was always played at the iconic Mission Hills Country Club in Palm Springs, with the winner being draped in a white robe after her leap into Poppie’s Pond. However, this year was a bittersweet occasion for all of us who have played at the Major, as well as for the community of Palm Springs.
It was the last time the tournament was held at Mission Hills. The LPGA Tour and LET are always looking for ways to expand the women’s game and more importantly find a way for us to play for more money. We don’t have the luxury of playing for $9-million-plus every week. Most weeks we play for a total purse of what the winner of a PGA Tour event takes home, which would be around $1.5-million.
Chevron coming on board as a new sponsor and increasing the purse for this event from $3.5m to $5.5m is fantastic, but it comes at the cost of losing a long tradition. From 2023 the tournament will be moved to Houston, where Chevron has its headquarters.
Although we have been told that some traditions will be kept and new ones created, for most of us seasoned players on Tour who know the tradition of Poppie’s Pond, it didn’t quite feel right. I mean, would you move The Masters?
The answer is obviously a resounding ‘no’ but unfortunately with the desire for us to play for more money, traditions fall away.
I have played at this Major for the past eight years, although I don’t have the best track record of making the cut. I fade the golf ball and I think the course rather suits someone who draws the ball, so maybe the change of venue and new tradition will be in my favour in 2023.
– This column first appeared in the May 2022 issue of Compleat Golfer magazine. Subscribe here!