There is really no reason to be critical of the announcement Tuesday that the ANA Inspiration will now be known as the Chevron Championship.
In fact, the LPGA Tour would have risked criticism had it not accepted Chevron U.S.A. Inc. as the new title sponsor of what is usually first major of the season.
The six year partnership will see the purse rise to $5 million, starting in 2022, a big step for the tour and its players in the ongoing search for bigger paydays, although there is still room to grow when compared to their male counterparts on the PGA Tour.
“We look forward to partnering with the LPGA and IMG to further champion women in sports, the workplace and society,” said Michael Wirth, chairman and CEO of Chevron Corporation.
“Welcoming another leading global company to our portfolio of sponsors that believes in the power of the LPGA to inspire women leaders, to showcase human performance at the highest level and to highlight the importance of diversity and inclusion in all facets of life, is truly game-changing for us,” added LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan.
The new major replaces one that has been a game-changer back for 50 years. The Chevron Championship will move to a later date in the spring and will relocate to a new home in the Houston area starting in 2023, when there will be a different feel to the event and understandable mixed feelings among many.
No longer will it be played at the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., near Palm Springs, as it has been since 1972. No longer will the champion leap into Poppie’s Pond, off the 18th green, after Amy Alcott began that tradition in 1988.
Over the years, the tournament was also known as the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the Nabisco Championship, Nabisco Dinah Shore, Nabisco Dinah Shore Invitational, Colgate Colgate-Dinah Shore and Colgate-Dinah Shore Winner’s Circle. If you notice a common thread in those names, it’s the name of a glamourous entertainer and many still refer to the event simply as the “Dinah.”
Founded by Colgate-Palmolive executive David Foster, who Poppie’s Pond was named after, and Shore, the tournament quickly became the standard for women’s events. A statue of Shore, who died in 1994, stands by the 18th green at Mission Hills, and she and Foster not only put the tournament out there, but the entire LPGA Tour, as well.
Players were seen in Colgate-Palmolive commercials, the tournament was nationally televised, big galleries observed from behind the ropes and pro-am participants included Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Glenn Campbell, Joe DiMaggio and former U.S. president Gerald Ford, among others.
With the richest purse in women’s golf, one wonders why the Dinah wasn’t a major in the early days when Canadian Sandra Post won consecutive Dinahs in 1978 and ’79. Major status didn’t come until 1983.
It has been ever since with all of its quirks, star power and a colourful history second to none on the tour.
“We have all made some lovely memories at Mission Hills over the years which we will enjoy celebrating in 2022 and take with us to the Chevron Championship’s new home, where I know we will make many more,” said 2016 ANA champion Lydia Ko,
““We do not make the move lightly. Since David Foster and Dinah Shore created this competition in 1972, it has held a special place in the hearts of our players and fans around the world,” said Marcoux Samaan.
“No matter where it is held, Dinah and her influence, along with the history built at Mission Hills, will be an integral part of the Chevron Championship,” she added.
Moving forward, let’s hope that’s the case.
May the Chevron Championship be as much a game changer as the tournament it’s replacing.