Women’s golf tour goes south, from Concord to Goffstown
By ALLEN LESSELS New Hampshire Union Leader
Brooke Pancake, from Chattanooga, Tenn., chips on the fifth hole during the Symetra Tour’s Northeast Delta Dental International at Beaver Meadow Golf Course in Concord last August. The tournament is moving to Stonebridge Country Club in Goffstown this summer. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
The Symetra Tour — a golf series for young, top-caliber female golfers that bills itself as the “Road to the LPGA” — is hitting the road in a quest for more sponsors.
It’s staying in the state and moving back a few weeks, too.
The tour, full of young women trying to make it to the LPGA, plans to begin its second decade in New Hampshire at Stonebridge Country Club in Goffstown, with the tournament being staged from Aug. 5-10 this summer.
The tournament has been known as the Northeast Delta Dental International in recent years and was played for the ninth consecutive year at Beaver Meadow Golf Course in Concord in mid-July last summer.
The tournament debuted at Canterbury Woods in 2004 and was there one year.
“I’m pleased,” said Mark Coen, a Concord city councilor who has been connected to the tournament since its inception and was a co-chair of the event last year. “It’s sad to see it leave metropolitan Concord, but it shows there’s still strong support for it in New Hampshire.”
Coen said he will stay involved in the tournament, though not in the same capacity.
Northeast Delta Dental will remain as a major sponsor, but will not be the title sponsor, Coen said.
He said it takes about $200,000 to run the event, in which 144 players compete for a purse that totals $100,000.
A need to beef up the list of sponsors led to the change of venue, Coen said.
“The whole thing is driven by sponsors and we pretty much tapped out the Concord market for sponsors,” he said. “Companies in Manchester and Merrimack and into Massachusetts were interested in participating, but felt strongly it should be at a location closer to them, which drove it to Stonebridge.”
Coed said he did not believe a contract had yet been signed between Symetra and Stonebridge, but he’s very confident that will be done shortly.
Nationally, events have been added to the Symetra schedule, which resulted in moving the tournament to August, Coen said.
The changes, he feels, are all for the good.
“The draw the tournament got in Concord and the support it had considering the demographics here was pretty awesome,” he said. “Now we’ll see what it can do pulling from a larger pool of people in Manchester and southern New Hampshire. It’s all positive stuff.”
The Symetra Tour regularly sends players on to the LPGA.
Thailand’s P.K. Kongkraphan defeated Michelle Shin on the third playoff hole to win the 2013 event. The win helped Kongkraphan earn Player of the Year honors for the season. She finished in the Top 10 on the money list and earned her way onto the LPGA.
She’s making her mark on the LPGA tour these days: She finished in a tie for seventh in last week’s event in Bermuda.