Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Here's an Idea: Make LPGA Part of Fiesta San Antonio

The Duramed Futures Tour makes its first visit to San Antonio this week for the Hill Country Classic at The Dominion. And while the weather so far during tournament week has been soggy, and this is the inaugural tournament, my guess is that the Futures Tour players will leave San Antonio believing this is one of the better tournaments on the tour. Playing in a big-time city and at an exclusive club that has previously been home to PGA Tour and Champions Tour events is not something the women on the Futures Tour get to do too often.

But I hope the Futures Tour leaves San Antonio. As long as it is replaced by the LPGA Tour, that is.

Several years ago there were rumors that Buddy Cook and Bill Rogers were trying to bring an LPGA event to Briggs Ranch Country Club. Nothing came of it, mostly because they (reportedly) had trouble drumming up big-dollar sponsors. San Antonio already had PGA Tour and Champions Tour tournaments, after all, and most of the companies in San Antonio at that time that were interested in sponsoring golf were already committed to one or both of those events.

Then, just last year, the folks behind the Texas and Mexico GolfTec franchises landed the Futures Tour. They got a three-year commitment to play the tournament in San Antonio, but they also said their ultimate goal is an LPGA tournament in the Alamo City.

Is the landscape better for an LPGA presence in San Antonio now that it was a few years ago when Briggs Ranch was in the hunt? Well, no, because of the lousy economy.

But here's an idea: Make a future LPGA stop in San Antonio part of Fiesta San Antonio. An official Fiesta event.

The Hill Country Classic this week is being played just a week after Fiesta ended. So our future, theoretical LPGA tournament would only have be moved one week earlier to get into the Fiesta scene. That would have the added benefit of putting a little more space between such an LPGA tournament and the PGA Tour Texas Open, which is now played in May. (Fiesta usually takes place over two weeks in mid-April.)

The LPGA players (and women touring pros in general) are far more willing to sell their tour and its events than are PGA Tour pros - because they have to. They know how to get out there and drum up support. Imagine the early part of tournament week being filled with LPGA players hitting other Fiesta events around town.

They could design their own Fiesta medals and trade them around town with other partygoers. The LPGA could have a float in one (or more) of the parades through Downtown San Antonio (some of which are attended by a quarter-million revelers.) They could model Coronation gowns and visit schools with El Rey Feo.

Imagine the boost in marketing the tournament would get from being tied into Fiesta and the dozens of daily Fiesta events around town. A whole lot of eyeballs would have the LPGA tournament put before them - hundreds of thousands of San Antonians - and probably as many tourists - flock to Fiesta events every year. It's a two-week party, a family-themed Mardi Gras.

And the LPGA tournament could get into the party spirit, too, with on-site Fiesta-themed parties, and with a couple holes designated the "party holes," ala the 16th hole at the PGA Tour's Phoenix tournament. The LPGA could even set up hospitality tents to mimic the biggest Fiesta events - an Oysterbake tent here, a NIOSA tent there.

Think about it. It could work.

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