The Twin Bridges Championship increases its scholarship and wins the best musical artists

As of January 2015, plans for Albany’s stop on the Symetra Tour were failing to materialize. The tour – where professional female golfers compete for championship wins and secure a spot on the LPGA Tour – was on its schedule and Albany was not on it.

But local tournament director Jim Miller landed a title sponsor just in time that year – dodging another bump in the road he encountered during his 18 years organizing one of the main women’s sporting events in the region.

Driven by the success of last year’s tournament on his debut at Pinehaven Country Club in Guilderland, Miller is well ahead of his planning schedule for the 2022 event. The Twin Bridges Championship, which has a record purse of $ 200,000, will be held the week of July 5-10, avoiding any conflict with the Saratoga Racecourse season.

“This is probably the first date we have set in tournament history,” Miller said.

A country music concert – sponsored by 107.7 WGNA radio station – will continue to be a unique aspect of the tour stopover in Albany. Michael Ray, who performed at the Concert on the Course last year, and Maddie & Tae, will take the stage on Saturday, July 9.

Mike Nichols, Symetra Tour commercial director, said a 20-event schedule will be announced in late January. Rochester will no longer be sponsoring a tournament and players will have a week off during the July 4th vacation before coming to Albany.

“The players will be well rested before they get to Albany. The fact that there had been a natural hiatus the week before should ensure the same solid ground Albany has experienced every year, ”said Nichols. “The new golf course (Pinehaven) has been very well received by the players.

Albany is steeped in the history of professional women’s golf. This is the longest stop on the Symetra and the tour itself – originally called Futures Tour – was founded by Eloise Trainor from New Lebanon in Columbia County. Area LPGA stars Dottie Pepper and Laura Diaz attended the tournament.

The $ 200,000 purse for the Twin Bridges Championship will fall “just below” the average purse for the tournament, Nichols said.

“In the few years that I have been on the tour, the fact that Albany has essentially doubled his scholarships is a real tribute to Jimmy’s work and the support of the business community in Albany,” he said. declared.

Miller said that another of this year’s big initiatives is an effort to reach out to businesswomen in the Capital Region in support of the tournament.

“We have to try to convey the need to support this tournament and the women who participate in it. We have young women – usually between the ages of 18 and 26 – trying to get on the tour and you have to support them, ”he said. “We still have a way to go to make this tour equal to the men’s tour (Korn Ferry), in terms of scholarships.”

This is an understatement. On the Korn Ferry Tour, the qualifying circuit for the PGA, regular season purses will increase 66.7% from 2021 to 2023, increasing from $ 150,000 to a low of $ 750,000 in 2022 before reaching the minimum of $ 1 million in 2023, depending on the tour site.

Last year, the Twin Bridges Championship featured a purse of $ 175,000. In 2019, it was $ 125,000. Miller estimates that 95 percent of Albany’s sponsors come from businesses owned by men or operated by men.

“There are enough women-owned businesses in this region to help support this tour,” he said, adding that half a million scholarships were not out of reach. “Capturing this demographic – women – is something we’ve never been able to do. And that’s something we need to do to help this tournament reach its potential.

Reaching potential means not only more financial support for the golfers who play on the tour, but also for the charities who benefit from some of the activities held during tournament week.

Symetra week in 2022 will feature a women-only golf clinic at Normanside on Tuesday, July 5.

“We are also planning to organize a cocktail party, emphasizing the need for businesswomen in the capital region to ‘own’ the tournament and get more involved at all levels,” a- he declared.

Miller met Georgia Kelly, senior vice president of Merrill Lynch, one of the founders of a networking organization called Links for Leadership, which hosted its first golf tournament charity and networking event at McGregor last year. .

In its first year, Links to Leadership raised $ 36,000. Proceeds have helped support the Women’s Employment and Resource Center (WERC), a nonprofit that works to promote women’s success in the workplace by strengthening their economic and personal independence.

During the winter months, Miller will continue to meet with sponsors, solidify event plans, and set charitable goals. This is where groups like Links to Leadership come in.

Pinehaven has agreed to host the tournament for two more years with an option for another year. A strong association of women and a volunteer effort at Pinehaven contributed to the success of the tournament and was praised by the players of the 2021 tournament.

“Everything aligned perfectly this year, from the weather to the new facility to sponsorship. We had wonderful weather and overwhelming support. On the member’s side, Pinehaven came out and supported the event and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. The course was difficult and the players loved the setup. We’re in a good position right now at Pinehaven and we need to build on that, ”Miller said.

• This column is sponsored by Times Union Women @ Work, the network of business and professional women in the Capital Region. Register today at:

Among the players who participated in the Capital Region tournament were LPGA stars Cristie Kerr and Christina Kim; and most recently Patty Tavatanakit, who played Albany in 2019 and has already won a major tournament, the ANA Inspiration 2021, and made $ 1.5 million on tour.

It’s time to give our full support to these amazing athletes.

[email protected] • @ joyceb10bassett •

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