SAMMAMISH, Wash. – Sahalee Country Club has played host to big golf events before, but none like the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, which will be held June 9-12 of next year.
At least that was the message of LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan, whose organization puts on this LPGA major along with the PGA of America, which also conducts the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup.
Whan, who was at Sahalee on Monday for the Kickoff Evening, said it will be like an Olympic event, with players from 30 different countries and people from 170 countries watching on television. But it was another difference Whan really emphasized.
"The accessibility and the interaction of the players is different," he said. "Our players will stay in people's homes. They will live with you, and when you yell at Christina (Kim), she'll yell right back at you."
Kim, who has won three times on the LPGA Tour and has played three times for the U.S. in the Solheim Cup, was one of three players to attend the event. Also appearing were LPGA rookie Sadena Parks, the former University of Washington and Bethel High of Graham star, and former Southern California star Lizette Salas.
"I was very, very, very, very excited," Parks said of when she heard the tournament, one of five LPGA majors, was coming to her home state. "I've played the course a few times, so I know it well."
Parks expanded on Whan's theme that local golf fans can expect a different experience than they have had at men's tournaments.
"They will get to know the girls a little better and they will see how we connect with our fans, and how we show appreciation that they are watching us," she said. "You'll see a lot of smiling faces, you'll see a lot of creativity. You'll see our friendships out here and how supportive everyone is."
This will be the LPGA's first event in the area in 16 years. The Safeco Classic was held at Meridian Valley Country Club outside Kent from 1982-99, but folded when Safeco pulled out as title sponsor.
Sahalee first entered the national scene when it held the 1998 PGA Championship. It also had a World Golf Championship event in 2002 and the U.S. Senior Open in 2010.
"We were thrilled when we were invited to host this event," said Steve Oaks, president of Sahalee Country Club, who said his only concern is the weather. "Our members have proved that they step up and really get behind these championships."
Parks is happy her LPGA competitors will get a better chance to learn about her native Northwest.
"They will see the great courses that we have and all the wonderful people here that will support us," said Parks, whose best finish this season was in June with a tie for 22nd in the Women's PGA Championship, where 98 of the top 100 players in the world were in the field.
"Ready or not, the best players in the world are coming," Whan said.
This article was written by Scott Hanson from Seattle Times and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.