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LPGA’s return to Arizona features a stellar field, DJs on the driving range, flat-screens for March Madness, selfie stations

SUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN, Ariz. — The LPGA is finally returning to one of golf’s hotbeds.

The Drive On Championship, the first full-field event in 2023, will be held at Superstition Mountain Golf Club, March 23-26. If the name of the course sounds familiar, the LPGA’s Safeway International was played at Superstition Mountain for five years, last visiting there in 2008 before moving to Portland.

The LPGA staged other events around the greater Phoenix area for the next 12 years, only missing 2010. The Founders Cup got its start in Arizona, and golf ball maker Volvik was named the title sponsor for the 2020 event, but that never came off as the COVID pandemic knocked it and several other pro golf events off the calendar that year.

So it’s been since 2019 that the LPGA last competed in Arizona. Jin Young Ko made the Bank of Hope Founders Cup her third LPGA win and first in the U.S. at Wildfire Golf Club that year.

Now the LPGA is back at a popular location near the Superstition Mountains, which provide a stunning backdrop from all vantage points around the property.

The 18th green during the final round of the 2008 Safeway International at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club in Superstition Mountain, Arizona. (Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

“I think it’s amazing. Really important. This is a warm-weather hub,” said owner by Susan Hladsky.

She and Superstition Mountain general manager Mark Gurnow had been working for several years to bring a tournament to the venue. They first tried landing the KMPG Women’s PGA. There were also talks with the PGA Tour Champions.

“I figured either the ladies or the senior players are the ones this golf course is going to fit,” said Gurnow.

In the end, the best fit was the LPGA, although the announcement didn’t come till November 2022. It’s a been a mad dash to get the course ready ever since.

An ace in the hole for Superstition Mountain: director of agronomy Scott Krout has been there since the place opened in 1999.

“He was here when the first shovel went into the ground and was here when we [LPGA] played here last, so he’s got it dialed in,” said 2023 tournament director Scott Wood.

Fans coming out to watch the golf and enjoy the sunshine will also experience what tournament officials are calling a sports-bar atmosphere with the 19th Hole Beer Garden near the driving range, where Arizona-based DJ’s DJ Javin (Wednesday to Friday) and DJ Aja Cruz (Saturday and Sunday) will crank up the tunes.

In addition, there will be large flatscreens with Golf Channel’s coverage of the golf but also the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournament games.

There will be another hangout spot at the 17th hole featuring the theme “You Glow Girl” where specialty drinks served in souvenir cups. Concessions will be available there.

Fans can get up close and personal with the LPGA golfers, who plan to visit “Selfie Stations” around the course.

The bottom line: fun for fans.

“They can watch some golf, eat some good food, catch up on their brackets. We’re going to have a family fun zone for kids,” Wood said. “Just trying to bring some different energies to the golf course in certain places.

“We feel it’s important to do some different things, to try some different things, since we basically are our own title sponsor for this week. Why not try it, right? We can only yell at ourselves,” he continued. “Overall, we just want people to have a good time. We know the golf is going to be great.”

The Drive On is owned and operated by the LPGA. The event is scheduled at Superstition Mountain for just this season, but all parties involved are hoping to secure a long-term partnership.

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