Lots of Golf in Orlando This Week!

Orlando is the place to be this week with Lake Nona Golf & Country Club hosting the LPGA HGV Tournament of Champions January 18 - 21, the 71st PGA Show in town January 23-27, and GWAA Championship at Mission Resort + Club January 21-22.

ORLANDO, Florida – PGA Tour Champions opens its season in Hawaii and the PGA Tour has shifted its events to California, but — for the next couple weeks, at least — Orlando is where most of the action is in professional golf.

The Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions – first event of the Ladies PGA Tour season – tees off on Thursday at Lake Nona. The Golf Writers Association of America Championship starts its two-day run on Sunday at Mission Resort + Club. https://missioninnresort.com/. The 71st PGA Merchandise Show begins with a Demo Day on Tuesday at Orange County National and then moves to the Orange County Convention Center for three more days.

After that flurry of activity the LPGA begins its regular season just a few miles away, with the Drive On Championship at a new site, Bradenton Country Club.

The LPGA’s Tournament of Champions, in its sixth staging, starts it all with an event that includes celebrities, but Canadian Brooke Henderson dominated last year with a wire-to-wire four-stroke victory.

LPGA Tournament of Champions at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club January 18-21.

Legendary Annika Sorenstam, a Lake Nona member who can still play with the best women, will be competing in the celebrity division. The 72-hole no-cut event has a record 36 LPGA players competing. Only those who won tournaments in the last two years get invitations.

“We’re really, really excited,’’ said tournament director Aaron Stewart, son of the late, great Payne Stewart. “We’re thrilled to have the Tour represented in a little deeper field (the previous high was 29), but that means there’s been a lot more first-time winners.’’

“Winning last year was a huge boost for my confidence,’’ said Henderson. “This is a great way to start the season. It’s an amazing atmosphere and a lot of fun.’’

Sorenstam has contended for the celebrity title in the past and entered several women’s senior events in recent years. She’s not sure what her competitive schedule will be going forward, however.

The 71st PGA Merchandise Show is at Orlando Convention Center January 25-27.

“I’m going to take it week by week,’’ she said. “I’m not playing the U.S. Open. I’m not playing any LPGA events. I’m not playing in the LET (Ladies European Tour). Nothing like that. If it’s a celebrity event, I appreciate the invites.’’

Now starting her 10th LPGA season Henderson changed virtually all her clubs in the last two months and continues to struggle with a thumb problem that has hampered her off and on since 2017. A bad omen for her is that none of the previous Tournament of Champions winners won any tournament in the following year.

The PGA Merchandise Show has recovered from a few lean years caused by the pandemic. The industry-only event is being held for the 71st time with a staggering array of new equipment and apparel. Over 1,000 brands of golf and golf lifestyle products will be on display.

Mission Resort + Club is hosting the Golf Writers Association of America Championship January 21-22.

Rather than analyze the newest products I’ve decided to take the easy way out and play the name game. Catchy names are nothing new in the golf industry, and this year’s best are the Zoom Broom, a fun-to-use product that is used to blow leaves away from hard-to-find golf balls, and the Caddy Daddy, a cart bag.

The 2024 GWAA Championship will be played at Mission Resort + Club, luxury destination resort that is just a 35-minute drive northwest of Orlando or an 80-minute drive northeast of Tampa, It’s home to two championship golf courses which are wonderfully complementary.

El Campeón (The Champion) layout, built in 1917 by George O’Neil, is one of the oldest courses in the South with a classic design featuring unusually sharp elevation changes in the typically flat Florida terrain. It has played host to multiple high school, college and professional tournaments.

In contrast, Las Colinas (The Hills) was created in 1992 by former PGA TOUR winner Gary Koch, and it lives up to its name with wide fairways rolling over gentle rises. Both courses at Mission Resort + Club feature undulating greens surrounded by tropical vegetation and incorporate large water hazards on many holes.

With two impressive golf courses Mission Resort & Club offers golf packages that offer many perks such as deluxe accommodations and unlimited time on the greens,

The two-day tournament opens on Las Colinas while El Campeon will host the final round and will play host to a field consisting of many of the most respected golf writers in the country in the Orlando area to cover the PGA Show which is presenting sponsor of the GWAA Championship.

After all that the LPGA will hold its first regular season event at the Bradenton Country Club’s Donald Ross-designed course. The club is celebrating its 100th anniversary and the LPGA player turnout is excellent.

Lilia Vu, Ruoning Yin and Celine Boutier – the top three players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings – will be there. So will 31 players who competed in the 2020 Olympics including all three medal winners – Nelly Korda (gold), Mone Inami (silver) and Lydia Ko (bronze).

Inami won the Japan Classic on the LPGA Tour last year but didn’t immediately turn pro. She made her official LPGA debut at Lake Nona.





Len has been covering golf for over 56 years. He was the golf columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times for 41 years and has been in the same role for the Daily Herald and several regional newspapers since 2009... Len is also a regular contributor to the Chicago District Golfer magazine and his travel pieces are regularly published in Pro Golf Weekly, New England.Golf, eSouthernGolf and the Ohio Golf Journal. His works for all publications are available at LenZiehmOnGolf.com. It is in its 15th year of operation and has been enhanced by the photography provided by his partner Joy Sarver... An inductee into the Illinois Soccer Hall of Fame in 2004 (for his reporting and youth coaching, not as a player), Len was also inducted into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame in 2019. He is also on the Advisory Board of the International Network of Golf, is a lifetime member of the Golf Writers Association of America and a member of the Golf Travel Writers of America.

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