Westchester Country Club drew rave reviews Monday as the PGA of America and LPGA began ramping up preparations for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship to be played on the club’s West Course June 11 to 14.
The comments came as luminaries of the event addressed media to kick off the tournament’s buildup.
“Having grown up in this area, when you talk about the quality of golf courses in the Met Section, you can’t go five miles without bumping into one of the best golf courses in the country—but Westchester Country Club is special,” said PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua. “Look at the championship pedigree of this golf course. I think back to coming here and watching the greatest players in the world. I remember shaking Seve Ballesteros’s hand right outside this room when I was about 11 years old.”
Bevacqua added another important reason: “They wanted to host the event. They wanted to be a part of this. I don’t think you could pick a better venue for this event than Westchester Country Club.”
Westchester Country Club hosted the PGA Tour from 1963 to 2007, and the Senior Players Championship in 2011. Grandstands, broadcast booths, concession tents and all the other infrastructure of a major golf tournament started going up this week for the club’s first major tournament.
Also praising the course was Stacy Lewis, two-time major winner and spokesperson for tournament sponsor KPMG. “It definitely looks to me like a shot-maker’s golf course,” she said. “You’re going to have to hit shots to keep it in the fairways, hit into certain spots on greens. I think it’s going to be a great test. It’s going to be a long walk, I know that, but it’s going to be a really good test of golf. As a major, it should be, but I think the rough and hitting fairways is going to be at a premium.”
Lewis said she has been consulting with KPMG as they developed their relationship with golf, and has been very pleased at their response to her suggestions. “KPMG asked me what we needed and I said we needed a big venue, a big purse, and network TV. Those are kind of the three big things that I thought if we could get to all of our majors, really, eventually, that would really put us on the map. The big thing with this tournament I was most excited about was the venue.”
Jean Bartholomew, four-time LPGA Teaching & Club Professional National Champion, remembered growing up on Long Island and playing junior events at the club. For the LPGA today, she said, “I always felt like we deserved to play on courses like this. And we do play on them; we are not putting down other tournaments. But coming to Westchester Country Club and seeing it and this whole event just has an air to it. There’s a feel to it that it’s just going to be beyond first class.”
Bartholomew had some advice for golfers playing the course for the first time: “You have to manage your way, you’re going to have to work your ball into some of the pins, and I think it’s going to be difficult if you miss greens to get up and down because the greens are so undulating. It’s going to be a great test.”
Also speaking at the kick-off event were LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan, KPMG Global Chairman John Veihmeyer, Zurich North America CFO Dalynn Hoch, and Inbee Park, the winner of the championship in 2013 and 2014.