By Matt Hombach
Baltimore-area golf fans are in for a treat as the first of three professional golf tournaments comes to central Maryland next week with the 2006 McDonald’s LPGA Championship kicking off at Bulle Rock Golf Course outside Havre de Grace. The Booz Allen Classic at the TPC Avenel follows on June 19-25 and the Constellation Energy Classic comes to Hayfields Country Club in Hunt Valley September 11-17. All three tournaments will feature some of the world’s best golfers and give area fans the unique opportunity to see all three major tours in person in just over a three-month span.
The LPGA Championship promises to offer some awesome golf action at an outstanding venue. An added bonus for patrons at the LPGA Championship is the opportunity to check out this renowned golf course without having to pay the regular price of nearly $150 for 18 holes. Grounds passes for the LPGA Championship will set you back $25 or less (depending one which day you attend) – all considered, a pretty good deal.
Host Course with Thoroughbred Connections
With the LPGA Championship taking place only a few weeks after Maryland’s largest professional sporting event, the Preakness, it’s only appropriate that the tournament will be played on a course with some thoroughbred connections.
James Samuel Patton brought a stud horse named Bulle Rock to North America in the mid-1700’s that was known as the “Father of All Thoroughbred Horses in America.” Decades later, Patton’s granddaughter, Cassandra Durbin, received a male colt from that same bloodline (also named Bulle Rock) as part of her dowry when she married Richard Sappington, owner of Blenheim Stud Farm in northern Maryland – the site where the golf course is now located.
Widely seen as the best golf course in Maryland, Bulle Rock was designed by legendary golf course architect Pete Dye. Bulle Rock measures 7,375 yards from the black tees, but is shortened to just less than 6,500 yards for the LPGA Championship.
Now in it’s second year as the home of the LPGA Championship, Bulle Rock certainly has the pedigree and conditioning to host a major championship, but was given a bit of a facility upgrade before the 2005 LPGA Championship. A new short game area and practice putting green were added to the center of the complex and the clubhouse was upgraded and expanded.
Sorenstam to Defend
“(Bulle Rock) puts a premium on driving and a short game which I think you should have at a major championship,” Defending Champion Annika Sorenstam said after playing at Bulle Rock last year. “I thought the rough was really tough and the greens were really fast.
“The par-5s were a lot more difficult on this course than at DuPont (Country Club, the previous home of the LPGA).”
Last year Sorenstam fended off two young upcoming stars, Michelle Wie and Paula Creamer, down the stretch to win by three strokes with an 11-under total of 277. She stumbled a bit on the final day, shooting 73. Wie and Creamer carded strong rounds of 69 and 67, respectfully.
“For me, to be out there and see them (Wie and Creamer) climbing, it's fun, not just because it's two great people making birdies, but they are the future,” Sorenstam said. “You know, I felt like when I come out here as a rookie, I was the future, and now I'm seeing another generation. The Tour is really in good hands, it's fun to see.”
Sorenstam capitalized on her chance in 2005, but will have a tough time defending against a hungry field of the top 150 female golfers in the world on a difficult tract at Bulle Rock.
Matt Hombach works for Nevins & Associates, a marketing and public relations firm that handles several clients in the golfing industry.
LPGA Championship Schedule of Events:
MONDAY, JUNE 5
LPGA Pro-Am Bulle Rock
TUESDAY, JUNE 6
LPGA Pro-Am Bulle Rock
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 7
LPGA Practice Round
THURSDAY, JUNE 8
LPGA First Round
Erikson Senior Day
Age 50+ admitted free
FRIDAY, JUNE 9
LPGA Second Round
SATURDAY, JUNE 10
LPGA Third Round
Military Appreciation Day - all active duty members in all branches of the services, the National Guard and Reserves, plus retirees, and veterans admitted free
SUNDAY, JUNE 11
320 Blenheim Lane
Havre de Grace, MD 21078
For more information and for tickets, visit www.mcdslpgachampionship.com.
Issue 1.6: June 1, 2006