What’s new with the LPGA in 2018? When it comes to the tournament formerly known as the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout—the answer is darn near everything.

Today, LPGA officials and event managers descended upon the Lone Star State to announce some formidable changes—including a new name, location and date.

We’ll start with the basics:

The tournament’s moniker is now the 2018 Volunteers of America LPGA North Dallas Classic. The name is so new that tournament officials are still finalizing the updated logo and branding, all of which will be unveiled shortly after the first of the year.

Old American Golf Club is ready to welcome in the 2018 Volunteers of America LPGA North Dallas Classic. Photo by Patti Putnicki

The venue is moving from Las Colinas Country Club in Irving, Texas, to Old American Golf Club in The Colony, a northern suburb of Dallas. The course, located on the shores of Lake Lewisville, pays homage to the “Golden Age of Golf Architecture,” and combines elements from courses like Shinnecock Hills, Pinehurst and Prairie Dunes. Although this Tripp Davis-Justin Leonard creation has played host to the Texas Women’s Open, the NTPGA Professional Championship and a U.S. Open qualifier, the North Dallas Classic will be the first elite professional tournament hosted at Old American.

Developer Jack Matthews, president of Matthews Southwest, is hard at work, getting the property ready for spectators, international media and the eyes of the world—and is nothing but confident that the already picturesque property will be ready for its close up when the time comes.

The tournament dates are changing, as well, moving back a week to April 30-May 6, 2018. This change means that the LPGA North Dallas Classic is now after the NFL Draft, which will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. A smart move in a very football-centric Metroplex.

The goal is to make sure all eyes are fully focused on the tournament at Old American when the first player tees off—and not just because of the impressive golf.

The whole tournament vibe has changed.

Food, Fun and Festivities for All

“This is going to be a community event—where people bring their families, they bring their friends, whether they’re golfers or not,” said Ricki Lasky, the LPGA’s senior vice president of tournament business affairs and LPGA properties. “Inside the ropes, we’ll take care of that. It’s going to be amazing golf—with a field that includes some of the best women golfers in the world. But, it will also be ‘the place to be,’ April 30th through May 6th.”

Ricki Lasky, Senior Vice President of Tournament Business Affairs and LPGA Properties. Photo by Patti Putnicki

In addition to golf, the North Dallas Classic is going to offer live music, events for juniors and families; as well as a variety of culinary experiences during competition week.

Although tournament organizers won’t release details until after the first of the year, one of the events will involve famed celebrity chef and Texas Food Bible author Dean Fearing, known locally as “The Father of Southwestern Cuisine.”

No word yet on whether or not his all-chef band will be part of the entertainment lineup.

Keeping the Quality and the Qualifiers in Tact

Although a lot is changing with the Volunteers of America LPGA North Dallas Classic, the great parts of tournaments past are remaining fully intact.

The Volunteers of America is still the sponsor and benefactor of the event. This national, nonprofit, faith-based organization has been around since 1896, offering hundreds of human service programs to America’s most vulnerable groups, ranging from veterans and seniors to at-risk youth, recovering addicts and persons with disabilities.

The tournament will still feature 144 of the world’s most notable female golfers, competing in a four-day, stroke-play event with a $1.3 million purse. So, the golf, as always, will be second to none.

Organizers will also keep the Amateur Qualifier as part of the event, which enables two high school or college golf hopefuls to play their hearts out to earn a tournament exemption. One of last year’s exemptions, OSU senior Maddie McCrary, is now entering Stage 3 of LPGA Q-school—so, it’s clear this opportunity does have a very positive impact on the future of golf.

Kudos to organizers for keeping this in the mix.

Tanisha Smith, Vice President of Marketing for Volunteers of America. Photo by Patti Putnicki

The Times They Are A-Changing

World Hall of Fame golfer and 88-time LPGA tournament winner Kathy Whitworth was on hand for the press event announcing the tournament changes.

So, how does this undisputed golf superstar feel about the new approach to this LPGA event?

“Anything that helps women’s golf, I’m all for, as long as the tournament stays in Texas,” Whitworth said. “I’m very glad it stayed in Texas.”

We are too, Ms. Whitworth.

With any luck, this revitalized approach to the Volunteers of America LPGA North Dallas Classic will bring more sponsors, more attention and more growth to women’s golf—in Texas and throughout the United States.

After all, everything is bigger in Texas. Here’s hoping the new Volunteers of America LPGA North Dallas Classic is a gigantic success.