Why Dallas/Fort Worth is where so many LPGA players call home | Golf News and Tour Information
It was late 2020 and Annie Park had been contemplating a change since the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The then-Orlando resident thought he would shake things up by leaving Florida. His first choice was one that many of his touring peers had raved about: Texas. Specifically, Dallas. And with back-to-back events in the Long Star State for the first time since 1978, the six-year LPGA veteran, born and raised on Long Island, drove her packed car for the Volunteers of America Classic in Big D.
Three days after the US Women’s Open the following week at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Park knew enough to finish packing. “I feel like my life has gotten better since I’ve been living in Dallas,” she said.
Park is part of a growing group of LPGA stars who in recent years have moved to Big D. Entering the 2022 LPGA Tour season, seven of the last 14 majors have been won by players claiming residency. in Dallas. Among them are the 2021 LPGA Player of the Year, Jin Young Ko (2019 ANA Inspiration and Evian Championship), Jeongeun Lee6 (2019 US Women’s Open) and A Lim Kim (2020 US Women’s Open), who have all elected domicile. Last year. Before that, Sei Young Kim (2020 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship), Minjee Lee (2021 Evian Masters) and Mirim Lee (2020 ANA Inspiration) made Dallas their home in the United States.
Stretching to nearby Fort Worth, these are eight of the last 15 major championships won by LPGA players in the region, adding Texas native Angela Stanford (2018 Evian Championship) to the list.
The depth of talent in the metroplex extends beyond the circuit’s recent great champions. LPGA winners Celine Boutier, Mi Jung Hur, Brittany Lang, Cheyenne Knight, Mi Hyang Lee and In Gee Chun have also established their American roots in Dallas. Additionally, four-year LPGA veteran Lindsey Weaver lives in the area, and US Solheim Cup rookie Yealimi Noh moved to Dallas last summer.
So what gives? Why has the region become home to a growing community of top female golfers? For starters, like Florida, Texas is one of nine states that have no income tax, which makes it attractive from a simple financial standpoint.
Another motivator can be stated in three simple letters: DFW. Like Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the 17,183-acre resort offers players unique flexibility that cannot be found in other locations.
“DFW Airport is in the middle of the United States,” Lee6 said in an email. “There are a lot of direct flights to tournament sites. This makes it so convenient.
The longest domestic flights a player has to take to get to an LPGA tournament from DFW are approximately four hours (it takes 4:15 to get west to Portland for the Cambia Portland Classic and 3:15 to head east to New Jersey for the Shoprite LPGA Classic and Cognizant Founders Cup).
Park initially thought his friends lied to him when they told him about the reduced time it takes to get to the United States, but the short flights allow him to relax his travel schedule in 2021.
“If I had a tournament on the west coast and had to fly to the east coast, I had time to stop in Dallas, do my laundry, pack my bags and sleep in my bed for a day or two, fly out to the east coast and I still don’t miss a thing,” Park said.
Then there’s the convenience of direct flights to and from Dallas from around the world, which makes it attractive given the LPGA’s expanding international schedule. While COVID-19 has forced the cancellation of 14 of the 23 events scheduled overseas since the tour’s coronavirus shutdown in 2020, the tour’s original schedule for 2021 had 12 tournaments outside of the United States, totaling 35% of the season. DFW offers direct flights to several international stops, including Incheon International Airport, primarily serving the South Korean capital, Seoul. It also makes it easier for players’ families to come to the United States, as Lee6 hopes his parents will be able to visit his residence in Dallas in 2022.
Beyond the convenience of travel, the ability to golf in Dallas almost year-round and in a variety of climates provides added appeal. “The weather here in Dallas is changing so drastically,” said Richie Hare, general manager of Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas, where Park, Boutier, Jordan Spieth and other PGA Tour pros train. “You can have a 70 degree day and then a 40 degree drop in temperature.”
Dallas’ winter chill can greet players with 20 mph winds, setting them up for their mid-season swing across the Atlantic Ocean.
“Trinity Forest is a links course,” Park said. “It helps me prepare for going to Europe. I think that’s a huge bonus. Coming from Long Island, I have played links type golf courses which I miss. It reminds me of my childhood hometown.
The ease of traveling from all over the world to Dallas gives rise to many diverse communities near the city. Several Korean markets allow South Korean gamers to create a taste of home despite being thousands of miles away. The region’s diverse cultures allow players to explore other aspects of life outside of golf together in their spare time, taking on one of the most demanding challenges on the relentless tour.
“Even when we’re not playing,” said Su Oh, who lived in Dallas from 2016 to 2018, “we still feel like we’re on the road, meeting each other and doing things that aren’t Golf-related We’re talking about things that are definitely not golf…and I think that’s really important to get away from the constant touring life.
Getting away from the life of the tour and exploring the area allows bonds to flourish on the course. Lee6 and Hur’s friendship grew over time on and off the course together in Dallas. The genesis of “Team MI6” that finished T-6 at last year’s Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational team event came from practice rounds together.
“Since last year in Texas, we’ve been starting to book a tee time for practice rounds together,” Hur said after the first round of the LPGA team event, “We still played a bunch times until this tournament. Maybe in March, April, I asked him: ‘can I play with you in this tournament?’ and she immediately agreed.
Two weeks before playing together in the tag team event, Lee6 invited Hur and her family to her home in Dallas over the July 4 holiday after the Volunteers of America Classic. Korean markets allow her to indulge in one of her favorite hobbies, cooking from home. She prepared an impressive spread and, in turn, one of her happiest memories from her time in Dallas.
“The reason I would like to say it was memorable is because my time with MJ Hur is always happy,” Lee6 said.
Oh cooked and shopped with Mi Hyang Lee and So Yeon Ryu while returning to Texas for weeks. The three worked with Cameron McCormick at Shady Oaks Golf Club and played golf together. Oh and Ryu first met at the Evian Championship in 2015, but their friendship blossomed when they realized their apartments were only a two-minute walk apart .
When their schedules aligned, the trio ventured to the Northwood Mall near downtown, shopping at Lululemon and other stores. They would then prepare dinner together, preparing Oh’s mother’s Shabu-shabu, a hot pot dish, and other Korean dishes. The simplest memories were the happiest for Ryu, who recently left Dallas after living there for five years.
“I think just having an ordinary life with them is the most memorable memory for me,” Ryu said. “Because they were like my family in Dallas. The family does ordinary things together, right? »