The best women golfers from around the world will descend upon Chaska to compete for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship trophy in just over a month.
Course preparations at Hazeltine National Golf Club began this week, according to Championship Director Renee DeLosh. Tents to accommodate thousands of volunteers, workers, players and attendees will be erected on the site within the next six weeks.
There will be a fan zone, hospitality tents and concession stands for the major, set for June 18-23. Hazeltine’s pro shop will serve as the merchandise shop.
The behind-the-scenes prep work began nearly two years ago, when DeLosh was named director. There are currently seven people on staff, who work out of a makeshift office on Hazeltine grounds, off of Pioneer Trail.
They work closely with those working at the PGA’s headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
“It’s a two-year runway that we’ve been on site planning and preparing,” she said. “We’ve gradually built our team here, we have several people on staff and we’ve been working diligently.”
Interest in the tournament has been strong so far, DeLosh added.
The 1,500 spots open to volunteers during the tournament have already filled up. Those volunteers will be hole marshals, provide media center services, daycare for the children of athletes and more.
“Some of them do their work before the event, most will be during the championship. We’ve seen tremendous support for volunteers,” DeLosh said.
Volunteers themselves are a key part of the tournament.
DeLosh, who lives in Minnetonka, started her career at the PGA by volunteering for the 2002 PGA Championship at Hazeltine. Most recently, she worked as the corporate hospitality sales director for the 2016 Ryder Cup.
DeLosh said the job is a perfect fit.
“I’ve played golf since I was 5 years old. I am a personal fan of the sport, too, and it’s a bonus for me that I get to work in the industry.”
Residents can expect to see cars, bikes and even people walking to and from Hazeltine during the six-day tournament. Weather permitting, there will be onsite parking.
However, if it rains, there’s a backup plan that involves buses, DeLosh added. Attendees will be free to walk onto the course or use a ride-sharing app.
“We are in record pace in tickets and hospitality. Minnesotans are hungry for golf tournaments and we’ve seen good support.”
Grounds tickets are as low as $20 for practice rounds and $30 for competition play.
“I’m incredibly excited for June. It can’t get here fast enough,” PGA of America President Suzy Whaley said, at a May 6 media day event at Target Field.
“What makes this so special is the unique collaboration between the LPGA, KMPG and PGA of America. One that is so unique that comes together to really elevate women on and off the golf course, to get them on network television, and to showcase some of the best women athletes in the world in a way we feel they are deserving of,” Whaley said.
Hazeltine is one of only two golf clubs in the country to have hosted every premier championship offered by the USGA and PGA of America and the only club in the country selected to host the Ryder Cup for a second time.
The 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is the first major women’s event at Hazeltine since the U.S. Open in 1966 and 1977. In total, this is the fifth major women’s tournament hosted in the state of Minnesota.
“For us at the PGA of America, we always take our championships to highly contested, traditional, amazing venues. And that includes women,” Whaley said. “We’re very proud to have put women on courses where traditionally male championships were played. ... We couldn’t be more excited to be on a venue like Hazeltine.”
With the addition of the KPMG sponsorship in 2015, the championship event has seen an improvement in courses. Olympia Fields near Chicago was host in 2018.
At Hazeltine, golfers will experience fast greens, with the rough and fairways similar to previous men’s majors.
The course layout will resemble its normal order, with the signature hole along Lake Hazeltine at No. 16. Holes five through nine and No. 14 through 18 were flipped during the Ryder Cup.
“To move this event to such great venues, specifically here in Minnesota, it’s such a remarkable thing for this event. The way this community has supported the game of golf, it has given me some of the most most memorable moments in my career, specifically the 2016 Ryder Cup,” said famed PGA champion Phil Mickelson, a KPMG endorser. “I will never forget the feeling of being on the golf course. Being a part of the most exciting coming together of a crowd I’ve ever witnessed or been a part of. Something I will always cherish.”
Mickelson said the Minnesota community has come together with incredible support for every event he’s played in dating back to the 1991 U.S. Open at Hazeltine.
Stacy Lewis, an 11-time LPGA Tour winner, said she’s never played at Hazeltine, but after watching the course on TV for the Ryder Cup, she’s excited to get out and find out what she can before the tournament begins.
“That’s long. But I’m OK with that,” said Lewis of the 6,800 yardage for the championships. Like Mickelson, Lewis was at Target Field for the media event. “The harder the better. You want a championship that tests all aspects of your game.”
And Lewis and the other players hope for big crowds.
“You ask most players, this is the best tournament we have. When you show up on the grounds it feels like a major tournament. ... It feels like a major when the fans show up,” Lewis said.
The best in the world, back again at Hazeltine National.
“Every year we see a magnificent event elevated even further,” said LPGA Chief Brand and Communications Officer Roberta Bowman. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to see, not just the best players from NCAA, and the LPGA, but the folks who qualify for this event are the best in the world. It’s the Olympics coming to your community.”
“It’s a place where dreams come true,” she added.
Chaska’s special election is in full force.
Take a drive through the neighborhoods in wards 2 and 4 and campaign signs line residential yards. So far the city has received 67 absentee ballots, according to Communications Manager Kevin Wright.
The special election on Tuesday, May 14 will determine who will represent wards 2 and 4 on the Chaska City Council. Polling places will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Until then, residents have two ways to vote: early in-person voting at City Hall or by absentee ballots, which must be returned by 3 p.m. May 14.
“We’re hoping people take advantage of in-person voting,” Wright said.
Candidates vying for a seat on the council include Councilor Mike Huang, who is running for the Ward 4 seat, and was appointed by the council late last year. Councilor Nate Bostrom is running in Ward 2 and was appointed earlier this year.
Challenger Taylor Hubbard is running for the Ward 2 seat and Maggie O’Connor is running for the Ward 4 seat.
This will be Chaska’s first special election in nearly a decade. The last special election in the city was in 2010 for the mayor’s seat, between now-Mayor Mark Windschitl and former councilor Jay Rohe.
Candidates have had opportunities to win over residents.
Most recently, the candidates squared off in a forum put on by the League of Women Voters, in which they addressed their stances on issues including affordable housing and racism.
Some are door knocking, trying getting the word out they are running for Chaska City Council.
The election comes after former councilor Greg Boe of Ward 2 resigned earlier this year following his election to the Minnesota House of Representatives. Former Councilor Jay Rohe of Ward 4 resigned his seat last year, before his term was over, to move to Ward 2.
Later, a group of residents called for the council to hold special elections in wards 2 and 4.