Meijer LPGA Classic Presented by Kraft Reveals #GRgyle [Video]
LPGA pros Morgan Pressel and Nicole Castrale might not have quite arrived with a fashion suggestion revealed this morning, but they both embrace the reasons behind the red argyle that's popped up around Grand Rapids since May 9.
Those somewhat iconic red argyle socks have been showing up in greater Grand Rapids at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, Rosa Parks Circle, at other downtown Grand Rapids locations and even the Tulip Time Festival last month in Holland.
The campaign is all tied to the inaugural Meijer LPGA Classic Presented by Kraft, which is teeing off Aug. 7 to 10 at Blythefield Country Club. Consider the red argyle campaign with the #GRgygle hashtag as Walker-based Meijer's nudge for a community-focused LPGA tournament with all proceeds to benefit Meijer's Simply Give food pantry-supporting and hunger-fighting program.
Tickets for the Meijer Classic, which will have a 144-player field vying for $1.5 million in prize money, went on sale today.
Available online, general admission tickets are $35 weekly and $15 daily apiece; with a limited number of daily reserved tickets $50 apiece. The upgraded tickets include admission on a specified day to premium viewing on the 17th green and discounted food and beverages. Children ages 17 and younger get free admission to the Meijer LPGA Classic with a ticketed adult.
Meijer President J.K. Symancyk, Meijer Senior Director of Communications Frank Guglielmi and LPGA Chief Communications Officer Kraig Kann all came fashionably appointed with red argyle ties -- and Guglielmi also with red argyle socks -- for a morning news conference announcing Meijer LPGA Classic details at Blythefield's clubhouse.
Pressel is a 26-year-old from Boca Raton, Fla., who has been an LPGA pro since November 2005. Last year, she had three top 10 finishes and earned $504,188; and she has two LPGA Tour titles to date.
"I'm excited to come to Michigan, my adopted home state, to play," said Pressel, who considers herself "as essentially Detroit-born and -bred and whose spouse, Andy Bush, a senior vice president with Octagon, has Jackson ties. "I've never played Blythefield, but I'm looking forward to it ... because it's old-school golf and I like courses like that. ...
"But I don't want to come here in the winter. No offense, but I'm a Florida girl."
Castrale is a 35-year-old from Glendale, Calif., and University of Southern California grad who turned pro in 2002 and whose husband, Craig Castrale, has been her caddy for "11 seasons and we still get along." The Castrales have a 2-year-old daughter, Eleni. Last year, Nicole had two top 10 finishes and earned $209,915; and she has one LPGA Tour title to date.
She points out that in Grand Rapids, "we're not only here to play golf. We're here to make an impact."
The impact of the 72-hole, stroke-play event is that it's the LPGA Tour's first Michigan stop since 2000, when the Oldsmobile Classic ended a nine-year run in East Lansing.
The 75th Senior PGA Championship Presented by KitchenAid was held May 22 to 25 at Harbor Shores Golf Club in Benton Harbor. This is Grand Rapids' first professional golf event since 2004, having hosted a Champions Tour event for 19 years.
This is the first regular pro golf tour stop in Michigan's Lower Peninsula since 2009, when the PGA Tour's Buick Open was held in Grand Blanc.
Located in Belmont, Blythefield's 18-hole, 6,859-yard layout has hosted prestigious golf events including the 1953 Western Amateur, 1961 Western Open and 2005 Western Junior. Its pro and director of golf and club operations is Patti Butcher, who was 2010 LPGA National Golf Professional of the Year.
The other impact and focal point for the Meijer LPGA Classic besides it being one of 32 stops this year on the LPGA Tour is feeding the hungry. Meijer's Simply Give program has donated more than $6.5 million for food pantries in the communities it serves through its 207 stores in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Kentucky.
"We believe this is a sustainable event with a commitment" to financially supporting Simply Give, Symancyk said. "Hunger relief is a part of the philanthropic focus ... and all proceeds will benefit Simply Give."
Besides the tournament's four-day run, there is an Aug. 4 qualifier at Blythefield, practice rounds on Aug. 4 and 5 and a pro-am event Aug. 6. Other events are also expected to be announced, including ones tied to runners and foodies, Guglielmi said.
Daily coverage of the Meijer LPGA Classic is slated 5 to 7 p.m. EST Aug. 7 to 10 on the Golf Channel.
"Tell all your friends we want them to come out," said Kann, a former sports anchor at WWMT-TV, NewsChannel 3. "But if they can't, watch on the Golf Channel."