The new site of this week’s LPGA Drive On Championship is owned by women, run by women and inspired by women, who account for about 35 percent of total play. “We are very women friendly at Superstition,” said Marian McGill, Assistant General Manager at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club, in Gold Canyon, Arizona.
“Our two courses are very playable, and we have lots of activities and golf tournaments for women. They have taken up the game more and we just make it fun for various groups of ladies with different skill levels,” added McGill about women’s involvement at Superstition Mountain and the general increase of female participation.
According to the National Golf Foundation, around 12 million women are playing golf off and on the course, and “the female/male balance on-course seems certain to shift in the future, as more than a third of 6 to 17-year-old players are now female, up from 14 percent in 1986”.
Superstition Mountain is clearly ahead of its time under the leadership of Susan Hladky, who had to take over ownership and control of the club after the accidental death of her husband of 44 years.
“Susan Hladky is the driving force for what goes on at the club and she treats us all more like family than staff,” said Matt Brooks, Superstition’s Director of Golf, in charge of implementing the ideas of the female members and accommodating the eight LPGA Tour players who also feel part of the club’s family.
“It is just a really great environment. The members are really good to us LPGA girls out here,” said Jennifer Kupcho, runner-up at the 2021 Drive On Championship and winner of the 2022 Chevron Championship. “Having the LPGA Tour in Arizona is exciting, and then being here at our home club is super awesome.”
Kupcho is one of eight players who have set their permanent or seasonal home around Grand Canyon, along with Carlota Ciganda, Jaclyn Lee, Charlotte Thomas, Caroline Inglis, Brianna Do, Mina Harigae, and Dana Finkelstein.
“I am so honored to be a member at Superstition Mountain, to have access to two golf courses always in great shape and members being so welcoming. They have always been super supportive of women’s golf,” said Harigae, runner-up at the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open.
“It feels amazing to have such support for women’s golf. You can go down to the pro shop and half of it is women’s stuff, which you don’t really see a lot in other pro shops,” explained Harigae, adding that the community is embracing the LPGA Tour coming back 15 years later.
Superstition Mountain was the venue for the 2004-2008 Safeway International, with a Hall-of-Fame list of winners in Annika Sorestam (2004, 2005), Juli Inkster (2006) and Lorena Ochoa (2007, 2008).
“My golf career started here when I was 12 or 13 and my dad drove me to Superstition Mountain to caddy in the pro-am at the Safeway International,” said Dana Finkelstein, born and raised in the area, and part of the LPGA Drive On Championship field.
“Now for me to be a pro, play the event and meet other little girls out here watching is kind of full circle,” added Finkelstein, proud of the female engagement at Superstition. “I have gotten to know a lot of the women members and they are very supportive of the LPGA.”
That support and inspiration of women will be on display at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club during the LPGA Drive On Championship, with a giant jumbotron showcasing the tournament broadcast and women’s March Madness action, the soundtrack of local women DJs Javin and Aja Cruz, and a field led by Rolex Rankings No. 2 Nelly Korda and 2023 LPGA Tour winners Brooke Henderson, Jin Young Ko and Lilia Vu.WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?