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Copper Rock Golf Course to host Women’s Golf Doubleheader in 2024

A double green is one of Copper Rock Golf Course’s signature features. So a doubleheader seems like a logical, if ambitious, step in the venue’s evolution as a women’s professional golf host.

Following three successful years as an LPGA Epson Tour stop, Copper Rock is expanding in a major way. The Senior LPGA Championship will immediately follow the Copper Rock Championship in May, with two Saturday finishes creating a dual dynamic of rising stars and recognizable names of the past competing in Hurricane over a remarkable 12-day period in Utah golf history.

That’s twice the level of commitment for everybody involved with Copper Rock, including Director of Operations Darcy Horman and Volunteer and Event Coordinator Penny James-Garcia. They’re asking a lot of the volunteers who have distinguished the Epson Tour event, and those folks already are coming through. Only two weeks after the portal ( opened in October, 260 volunteers had signed up, with more than half of them committed to both weeks.

No wonder James-Garcia described herself as “pleasantly blown away” by the volunteer response, while sponsors also are “incredibly supportive and excited.”

The doubleheader opportunity stemmed from the way tournament administrators have performed and how southern Utah has supported the Copper Rock Championship. The LPGA Tour oversees the Epson Tour and operates the Senior LPGA Championship, considered one of the two senior women’s major tournaments, along with the U.S. Senior Women’s Open. LPGA administrators looked toward Hurricane among other possibilities in moving the senior event for golfers 45 and older from Indiana.

“Penny and Darcy and the whole team out there at Copper Rock have done a great job of growing the Epson Tour event,” said Tim Kramer, the tour’s vice president of tournament business affairs. “They were game to give it a go. …. All of the stars aligned.”

Kramer cited “kind of a unique twist” of staging two big tournaments in two weeks. That’s certainly unprecedented in nearly a century of pro golf in Utah.

As James-Garcia said, “If we’re going to do it, we’ve already got the structures on site. It just made sense. It’s going to be a lot of work, but it’s going to be a lot of fun too.”

Holman said, “These events are an incredible opportunity to recognize, support and promote amazingly talented female athletes.”

Savannah Vilaubi, 2023 Epson Tour Copper Rock Championship winner.

Copper Rock is contracted to host the Epson Tour through 2028, while promising to increase the purse by $10,000 annually. The 2024 Senior LPGA Championship is a one-year commitment by both parties. All tickets are good for both events. “We’re trying to give people a good value for their money,” James-Garcia said.

Copper Rock Championship supporters have enjoyed seeing players come through Hurricane on their way to the LPGA Tour. Jenny Coleman, a playoff contestant in April, is among the Epson Tour’s 10 graduates in 2023.

James-Garcia boosted Utah women’s golf by awarding sponsor invitations to the BYU (Lila Galea’i, who tied for 29th place) and Utah Tech (Jane Olson) programs in April. The Epson Tour honored that commitment by allowing a rare third exemption next year, when Southern Utah University will be included. BYU graduate Kendra Dalton also remains eligible for the Epson Tour after finishing 58th on the 2023 money list.

Utah Senior Women’s State Amateur Champion Nuny Kham-One has received an exemption into the 2024 Senior LPGA Championship at Copper Rock.

The Senior LPGA Championship will have at least one Utahn in the limited field of about 75 players. Nuny Kham-One earned a spot by winning the Senior Women’s State Amateur in September. “I’m still in awe,” she said of the opportunity. “I’m super excited. I can’t wait. It all sunk in after I won.”

Two pros and one amateur will advance through Monday qualifying. Kham-One and the qualifiers will join a field that features “a lot of names that people will be familiar with,” Kramer said.

Nobody’s promising an appearance by Annika Sorenstam, who has played in recent U.S. Women’s Opens. Regardless of who tees it up, the level of play will be high in the latest chapter of senior golf in Utah, where PGA Tour Champions conducted events from 1982-2002 and a women’s senior tour debuted in Salt Lake City in 1997.

2023 Senior LPGA champion, Angela Stanford.

Angela Stanford is the defending champion, having come from five strokes behind and shooting a final-round 65 to top Trish Johnson by one shot at Sultan’s Run Golf Club in Indiana and earn $60,000 in her senior debut. Karie Webb, the 2022 champion and a winner of seven LPGA Tour majors, finished third. Johnson is a two-time winner of the Senior LPGA Championship; Helen Alfredsson and Laura Davies also took titles.

The 54-hole (with no cut) event will be one of about seven Legends of the LPGA stops in 2024, a mixture of team and individual tournaments. Senior women’s pro golf is gaining some footing in this decade after a slow start in the late 1990s that included two stagings of the American Stores Challenge, a 24-player, pro-am event at The Country Club.

Nancy Lopez was the biggest name the first year, when she played with Gov. Mike Leavitt and finished second to Lenore Rittenhouse in the 36-hole tournament. Rittenhouse repeated as champion the following year, although the planned Medalist Tour never took hold.

No spectators were allowed in Salt Lake City. The atmosphere will be much different at Copper Rock, where the build-out on the Nos. 1 and 10 tees and the double green of Nos. 9 and 18 have created a setting that resembles an LPGA Tour event. Both the golfers who aspire to play at that level and those who have already been there will appreciate the scene in southern Utah.


Written by Fairways Media senior writer Kurt Kragthorpe. Republished with permission from the November issue of Fairways magazine. Photos by Fairways Media and the LPGA.