After three years, the future of the LPGA tournament played at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor appears in doubt.
Sponsored by Volvik for the first three years of its existence, the tournament entered the off-season without a title sponsor secured and is not included on the LGPA’s 2019 schedule, which is set to be announced Thursday.
However, that doesn’t mean the end is certain. According to tournament officials, director Keith Karbo still is working to secure sponsors and the LPGA Tour is open to still adding the event at a later date to next season’s schedule, which will be unveiled at 6 p.m. Thursday during "Golf Central" on Golf Channel.
“When the organization publicizes the Tour schedule, the Ann Arbor event will not be on the announced calendar,” tournament spokesman Bruce Madej said in a statement. “Even though it will not be listed, tournament director Keith Karbo is currently in talks with interested parties for a 2019 event. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan is aware of these discussions and has dates available for our tournament.
“Having held this tournament successfully for three years, our organization is prepared to operate the event once a title sponsor is confirmed.”
The future of the tournament has been in question for some time.
On the eve of this year’s event, Whan and Volvik USA president Don Shin talked about what was to come after the initial three-year agreement came to an end. Shinn made it clear Volvik — a golf-ball manufacturer based in South Korea — wanted to continue to be involved in the tournament but would not commit to re-upping as the title sponsor.
Whan was optimistic the LPGA in Ann Arbor would continue.
“If I could hand you guys a headline, I would hand you, ‘LPGA commissioner confident in Ann Arbor long term,'” Whan said in May. “I feel comfortable about our plans here long term. I don’t have anything to announce this week and we're not telling you about what our X number of years is, but I think the LPGA and Ann Arbor probably have a long (future) together, we just have some work to do in the months that follow this event.”
The Volvik Championship began in 2016 and joined the Meijer Classic played at Blythefield Country Club near Grand Rapids as regular LPGA events. Next season’s schedule will include a new LPGA Tour event, the Great Lakes Bay Invitational in Midland, as well as the long-standing tournament in Sylvania, Ohio,
They all are part of an expanding schedule of professional golf in Michigan as the Champions Tour began play this year with the Ally Challenge at Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club and the PGA Tour returns next summer as the Rocket Mortgage Classic will be played at Detroit Golf Club. The Senior PGA Championship also is on even-numbered years at The Golf Club of Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor.
Where the Ann Arbor event might turn for a title sponsor remains to be seen and there is no timetable for when the tournament would need to secure a sponsor in order to land a spot on next year's schedule.
“Whether you talk about a partner like Volvik that I know will be involved in this tournament at any number of various levels,” Whan said in May, “and the number of people we're talking to that want to take on a real significant role here, I think all the ingredients are here for a long-term solution.”