What Kemper Lakes is doing to prepare for the KPMG Women's PGA Championship
By Kim Mikus
In a few weeks, Kemper Lakes Golf Club in Kildeer will host the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, the second time in a year the tournament will be held in the Chicago area.
With a $3.65 million prize fund for the players, the tournament purse is among the highest in women's golf. The champion will earn $525,000.
The tournament, set for June 26-July 1, marks the first pro tour event for Kemper Lakes since it transitioned to a private facility in 2007. The tournament is scheduled to open Tuesday, June 26, for practice and Pro-Am rounds with competition beginning Thursday, June 28.
We checked in with John Hosteland, PGA General Manager for Kemper Lakes, to find out more about the tournament and how Kemper Lakes is preparing for the event.
Q. What does it mean to Kemper Lakes to be selected to host the KPMG WPGA Championship this year?
A. We have received an overwhelmingly positive response to this championship from the membership, and we're honored to work with the PGA of America to host this prestigious major championship. It is a rare opportunity to showcase our club and our membership on an international stage and we could not be more proud to welcome the best players in women's golf to Kemper Lakes very soon.
Q. What is unique about the Kemper Lakes Golf Course that players may find interesting or challenging?
A. The name Kemper Lakes is certainly fitting, as water comes into play on 10 of the 18 holes. It creates some risk-reward opportunities on holes 7 and 11.
However, I think the players will enjoy the challenge presented by the last three finishing holes, known as The Gauntlet at Kemper Lakes. It is great finish and water plays a large role leaving little margin for error off the tee and on the approach shots on each of the last three holes.
Q. Have any changes been made to any of the holes in advance of the Championship? What is being done at Kemper to prepare for the tournament?
A. Over the last few years, we've made enhancements to both the clubhouse and to the course to prepare this club for a major championship. We recently completed a major three-year bunker renovation throughout all 18 holes on the golf course to elevate playing conditions. It has resulted in better positioning of the bunkers, better quality sand and enhanced course aesthetics. The course is in championship condition and will provide a strong but fair test for the best players in women's golf.
Q. What's the most challenging hole and why?
A. I think the 16th hole is the toughest at Kemper Lakes. It is a long par-4 with water down the entire right side, which requires an accurate tee shot. The hole also has two deep fairway bunkers on the left in the landing area and water on the right.
The approach shot plays long and entirely over water to a tough green with a large bunker protecting the back left portion. The 16th hole was ranked as one of the toughest holes on the PGA TOUR Champions when Kemper Lakes hosted the Ameritech Senior Open.
Q. Tell us a little history of the golf course.
A. Kemper Lakes has a long history of hosting professional tournaments and prominent amateur events. In fact, we are one of only three courses in Chicago to host a major championship since 1934.
When golf fans think about the history of Kemper Lakes, they always remember the thrilling conclusion of the 1989 PGA Championship, which we hosted with the PGA of America. The late, great Payne Stewart came from behind that year to win the first of his three Major Championships. He birdied four of the final holes to win by just one stroke.
We have also hosted multiple PGA Grand Slams and the 1992 U.S. Amateur. The course was designed to host major professional events and we have experience executing Major Championships. The KPMG Women's PGA Championship will add to the rich history and prestige of Kemper Lakes.
Q. What is one interesting fact about Kemper that most may not know.
A. In addition to the storied history and events mentioned above, we have hosted the Illinois PGA Section Championship for the past 20 plus years.
Q: Do you have any "pro tips" for people planning to attend?
A: The grandstands on holes 1, 9 and 18 will provide fantastic views and great opportunities to watch the best women golfers in the world compete for a major championship.
-- Kim Mikus, editor
Q. What big draws (players) are playing?
A. For consecutive years, the top 100 players on the LPGA Official Money List have played in this Championship, including 24 major champions. And, this championship boasts one of the highest purses in women's golf.
Notable names for this year's championship include Lexi Thompson, Michelle Wie, KPMG Brand Ambassador Stacy Lewis and defending champion Danielle Kang.