Mission Hills Country Club has been synonymous with women’s golf for a half century, from hosting the inaugural Colgate-Dinah Shore Winner’s Circle in 1972 to the past 39 years of major-championship golf in the Palm Springs area.
“I get tears in my eyes when I walk across the bridge to the 18th green at Mission Hills,” said So Yeon Ryu, who won the 2017 ANA Inspiration, which will become the Chevron Championship starting this April, a year before the championship transitions to a new venue, likely in Houston.
“That course is so special to me and I’m very sad to leave. But I also trust that Chevron will be a tremendous partner for the LPGA Tour and has a good plan for the future of this major championship. I plan to help them make sure that the history and traditions we have built at Mission Hills will move with the championship to its new location.”
One tradition that is likely over, though, is the annual victory leap into Poppie’s Pond, which began in 1988 with Amy Alcott’s historic splash. LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan noted that the distinct celebration was something that came up in conversations with stakeholders and membership, but ultimately, Marcoux Samaan says that changes are necessary for the year’s first major to make a bigger splash moving forward.
“I think for the players, tradition is important and being a part of something bigger than yourself is what the LPGA has been about for 71 years,” Marcoux Samaan said. “[The leap into Poppie’s Pond], that’s something I know, personally, I always look forward to. Yes, people have brought that up, but again, I think recognizing that we are moving into new heights here for the LPGA, for women’s sports, for women’s leadership, for this tremendous partnership with such an amazing company.”
Added Alcott: “Well, I think now you have to find a player that will do cartwheels, but you know, change is all part of life. It’s very emotional … but I think that every place has its time.”
Before “The Dinah” finds a new home, it will be played one final time at Mission Hills next spring, along with a new name and a larger purse, $5 million, the largest haul on the LPGA.
There will also be one final leap – perhaps a giant one? – into Poppie’s Pond.
“This event will always have a special place in our history, no matter its name,” Juli Inkster said. “I’ll never forget seeing Dinah Shore’s smiling face on the 18th green as she handed me the trophy. Now Chevron is bringing in the next evolution of this championship, making Dinah’s dream even bigger. ANA was a great partner for the last seven years and we’ll throw them and Mission Hills a celebration to remember.”
So, let’s remember some of the past splashes: