The First Coast has hosted PGA Tour, PGA Tour Champions, Korn Ferry Tour and LOCALiQ events.
It’s now adding a women’s professional tournament to the mix — which will be played under two formats.
The Orca Golf Bags Women’s Match Play Championship will be held at the two World Golf Hall of Fame courses Oct. 26-Nov. 7 of 2021, an official event of the Women’s All-Pro Tour.
A field of 64 players will compete in 54 holes of stroke play at the King & Bear, which will seed the players for the match-play portion of the event the following week at the Slammer & Squire.
There will be separate champions, chasing a total purse of $50,000. The WAPT has been a stepping-stone to the Symetra and LPGA Tours and has produced players such as Yealimi Noh, currently 63rd on the LPGA’s Rolex Rankings, and Symetra Tour winners Sarah White and Matilda Castren.
In addition to the competition, there will be a pro-am, junior clinics and other community activities.
There also will be leadership forums, executive networking and educational seminars provided by GenerationW, a national non-profit based in Jacksonville Beach by former PGA Tour executive and WNBA president Donna Orender.
The idea for the tournament began with MediaShare Consulting Group managing partner Mark Berman, whose daughter is former Jacksonville University player Hannah Berman. When the Symetra Tour was shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the only alternative for many female professionals was a hodgepodge of mini-tours and state opens around the country, which was expensive, to say the least.
Berman got Orca Golf Bags, one of his clients, on board as the title sponsor and in short order, the two tournaments became part of the schedule of 14 official WAPT events for the 2021 season.
“From the get-go we loved the vision of this tournament and knew we had to help make it happen,” said Erica Bennett, co-founder of Orca Bags, in a statement. “As a women-owned business, we always root for the underdog. Our whole message is to support the up-and-comer. We know what it’s like to fight for a seat at the table, so putting our name on this event matches our mission.”
Information on elevated hospitality, the pro-am, tickets, sponsorships and volunteering is available at TheOrcaGolf.com.