LPGA players dealing with inferior facilities at Tournament of Champions – Sports Illustrated

LPGA players dealing with inferior facilities at Tournament of Champions – Sports Illustrated

Editor’s Note: On Wednesday night, 36 additional lockers were installed at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club ahead of Thursday’s first round. A Hilton Grand Vacations official said this would ensure every woman – both LPGA players and celebrity players – will have their own locker.

Past LPGA winners arrived at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club for this week’s Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions to find a less than ideal setup.

According to Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols, players were told they would not have private locker rooms available for the LPGA’s season opener.

Aaron Stewart, vice president of sports marketing at Hilton Grand Vacations, explained that a plan to provide temporary lockers for the week fell through. Players have access to the women’s restrooms and showers, but there are no storage facilities for the 29 golfers attending the event.

“I don’t know why they canceled the lockers,” Stewart told Golfweek.

LPGA venues typically offer the men’s locker room for the week on the field, but a tour official said that at Lake Nona, the men’s locker room needs to be available for use of the restroom. The HGV Tournament of Champions is a Pro-Am event that brings together winners from the last two LPGA seasons and celebrities.

“I’m not mad at the club, I’m not mad at the sponsor, I’m upset with the LPGA because that’s just an overlooked factor,” Ryan O’Toole, a four-time LPGA Tour winner, said Tee It This Week.

When asked for comment on the Lake Nona locker room, the LPGA made the following statement.

“Hilton Grand Vacations has been an incredible partner in helping the LPGA expand and improve the facilities and housing for our players. With hospitality returning this year, the tournament informed us that due to the need for public restrooms, a private and secure locker room would not be available for the LPGA players this week. An option was offered to add temporary lockers in a room within the clubhouse that did not include a bathroom area,” the statement said.

“Due to a prioritization of the space for use by other players, our tournament team has determined that it is not in the best interests of the players and the event to pursue this option. Players have access to a locker room, although the space isn’t entirely private. We are always open to player feedback and are working with our tournament partners to allocate limited space. We will continue to do so with our amazing Hilton Grand Vacations partners,” the statement continued.

The Group of 29 in the Tournament of Champions field also includes defending champion Danielle Kang, world No. 2 Nelly Korda and her sister Jessica Korda, who won the 2021 event.

Jessica Korda chimed in on Twitter, noting the field didn’t have access to lockers in 2022 either, but they have in years past. The lack of locker room availability in 2022 was not due to the COVID-19 protocols.

“Last year we didn’t have lockers either,” Jessica wrote. “But we had lockers at TOC a year earlier. Important to clarify and have all the facts so people don’t think it’s just this year.”

Another issue with the structure of the tournament concerned the restrictions on practice facilities. Players have been advised that for practice rounds on Sunday 15th January they will not be permitted to use the practice areas more than an hour before their scheduled start time. There was initial confusion among players that this rule applied to every day of the tournament, but was later clarified as a restriction only for Sunday’s practice round.

“The guys would never agree to one hour of practice a day,” said Matilda Castren, another LPGA player who was in the field this week.