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LPGA will make its final stop in Rochester
by Patrice Walsh
Rochester, N.Y. -- The move from Locust Hill to Monroe Golf Club was hard for some long time LPGA fans, but they never dreamed the first LPGA tournament at Monroe would be the final stop for the event in Rochester.
Mike Zaremski is disappointed. He lives on Golf Avenue in Pittsford, just down the street from Monroe. He had hoped to see some of the golf during LPGA week and make some money letting fans park in his yard.
Heather Donahue is a longtime fan of the LPGA. She bought season passes for years. She said while she's sad to see the tournament leave Rochester, she isn't surprised. She said the move from Locust Hill made her think the event's days were numbered here.
When they moved to Monroe, I knew something was up, that they were looking to get out," she said. "I knew it was a money thing. They went downstate; they knew where the money was."
Tournament Director Linda Hampton said the move didn't signify the end of the tournament. She said this was a decision made by the LPGA leadership to elevate play to the next level. She said it's great news for the players but is bittersweet news for those who have worked hard to make the tournament a success in Rochester.
She said there wasn't anything local organizers could do to change this decision. She said the LPGA wanted a sponsor with a global footprint, and Wegmans wasn't interested in that. So the tournament had to make a change to benefit the level of play and the purse.
Local leaders said the departure of the LPGA tournament is both a financial and emotional loss for the community. County Executive Maggie Brooks said the tournament brings in $1 million per year for the community. She said it's a tradition that people don't want to lose but she said it is a business.
Pittsford Town Supervisor Bill Smith said businesses like restaurants and hotels will feel the loss. He said it's a sad day to lose something that has been around for almost 40 years.
Hampton said this is a loss of $400,000 to the charities that benefit from the LPGA. They include agencies like Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection, which works to ensure kids graduate from school. She is focused now on making this final tournament the best ever.
While she doesn't rule out a future stop in Rochester for the professional lady golfers, she said nothing is planned.
This year's LPGA runs from Aug. 11-18 at Monroe Golf Club.