The future of Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) golf tournament at the Robert Trent Jones (RTJ) Golf Trail in Prattville, Alabama is at risk after title sponsor Navistar withdrew from the event.
“Navistar has been proud to be the lead sponsor of the Navistar LPGA Classic for the last six years and we’ve maintained a strong relationship with both the LPGA and the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail,” Navistar spokesman Stephen Schrier said in a news release.
“However, our current business climate requires a reduction of our sponsorship activities, including our sponsorship of the Navistar LPGA Classic.”
Stacy Lewis, who this year became the first American to win the LPGA’s Player of the Award since 1994, won this year’s tournament in September by two shots over teen-ager Lexi Thompson.
According to LPGA Chief Communications Officer Kraig Kann, the LPGA is working on continuing the event in Prattville in 2013.
“The LPGA appreciates and applauds all that Navistar has done to support the Tour and Alabama. While they won’t return to partner with us in 2013, to say that the LPGA, the Robert Trent Jones Trail, and RSA won’t return to Prattville next year is premature, stated Kann.
“We’re all committed to continuing the tradition of women’s professional golf in Alabama and the city of Prattville and are working together to deliver on those goals in 2013.”
The SunBelt Golf Corporation and the Robert Trent Golf Trail is in search of a new event sponsor.
Jonathan Romeo, tournament sponsor and SunBelt Golf Corporation Director of Business Development, is in Florida for the LPGA annual tournament owners and director’s meeting.
When asked recently what type of sponsors they might be looking at, Romeo stated, “The LPGA is a world brand and it takes a world company to get the benefit of everything and there are a lot of those here.”
“We are working on a daily basis with the LPGA and with business in the state of Alabama and have for 12 years in a row,” said John Cannon, Sunbelt Golf Corporation President.
“We are working on these events and actually pursuing a new title sponsor and committed, if possible, to continue doing an LPGA event both in Mobile and Prattville.
“We can’t do it ourselves. It requires community and business involvement to make it happen.”
When asked what the deadline would be to have a title sponsor for an event to played in 2013, Cannon indicated that you would get a different answer depending on who you asked.
“In an ideal world, the LPGA would like some answers now,” Cannon said.
The LPGA traditionally announces its partial or full event schedule for the upcoming year in November.
The SunBelt Corporation said it is committed to pro golf in the state but would not rush into anything moving forward.
“We’re not going to jump into a commitment without knowing we can accomplish it and do the event the way we have done it,” Cannon said.
“It’s an expensive proposition. We are working with third parties and groups that have not done something with us.”
Romeo said the event costs about $3.5 to $4 million annually. According to a study conducted by the Prattville Area Chamber of Commerce, the event has a $7 million impact on the region.
Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail
The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail is a collection of championship caliber golf courses, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., distributed across the state of Alabama, as part of investments by the Retirement Systems of Alabama. The Trail started with 378 holes at eight sites throughout the state, and has grown to 468 holes at eleven sites.
The concept was created and executed by Dr. David Bronner, CEO of the Retirement Systems of Alabama.
Keep your eyes on the horizon and blaze a trail.