CoBank Colorado Women’s Open Swaps Dates with Seniors

Lexi Hawkins
2018 CoBank Colorado Women’s Open champion Lexi Harkins

Schedule change portends stronger competition.

The CoBank Colorado Open Championships are putting ladies first. And, as the show tune goes, it’s so nice to have them back where they belong.

After six years of taking place the week before Labor Day, the next CoBank Colorado Women’s Open will be held May 29-31, 2019, according to Colorado Open Golf Foundation CEO Kevin Laura.

The change marks a return of the event to its longtime spot on the calendar. It will once again lead off the annual three-event CoBank Colorado Open Championships, which also consists of the CoBank Colorado Open (July 25-28) and CoBank Colorado Senior Open (August 28-30). Green Valley Ranch Golf Club in Denver will host all three championships.

Laura says the change resulted from discussions with the Colorado Open Golf Foundation’s tournament committee, which consulted with members of the LPGA and the head coaches of local college programs.

Becca Huffer (Photograph by Scott A. Miller/LPGA)
Becca Huffer won the 2013 Colorado Women’s Open, the first year the event was played in August (Photograph by Scott A. Miller/LPGA)

“The tournament committee recommended switching the Senior and Women’s Open dates to what they were before 2013,” Laura said. “The committee then presented that recommendation to the Board of Trustees, who approved it. With this change in dates, we avoid overlap with events on the LPGA and Symetra Tours and can attract college players right after they play in the NCAAs. The result will be a much deeper and stronger field.”

Elevating the event

In March, 2017, Laura and the event organizers took the first step in elevating the caliber of players in the field when they doubled the purse from $75,000 to $150,000, making it the wealthiest women’s state open in the U.S.

Highlighted by a $50,000 winner’s share, the increased payout should theoretically have attracted the strongest possible players. But the dates of the championship conflicted with events on both the LPGA Tour and its developmental Symetra Tour.

Further complicating matters, the timing of the CoBank Colorado Women’s Open precluded the participation of many out-of-state college stars who had already gone back to campus.

Jennifer Kupcho after qualifying for the LPGA Tour in November.
Jennifer Kupcho after qualifying for the LPGA Tour in November.

Laura believes the timing of the new dates is perfect. “There’s no Symetra event,” he says, “and the NCAA Championships will have just ended (May 17-22), which means the Jennifer Kupchos of the world could make their professional debuts at the CoBank Colorado Women’s Open.”

Kupcho, a Colorado native, is the Wake Forest University senior ranked No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. However, the last two days of the Colorado Women’s Open overlap with the first two of the U.S. Women’s Open (May 27–June 2), and Kupcho has an exemption by virtue of winning the Mark McCormack Medal—if she remains an amateur at that point (although she breezed through LPGA Qualifying Series, she deferred getting her TOUR card until graduating).

Kupcho also could make the U.S. Open via USGA Sectional Qualifying and then compete as a professional.

Catch the Rising Stars

Still, qualifying ends May 9, so the ranks of talented pros who didn’t advance or missed out on an LPGA exemption have time to sign up or qualify for the CoBank Colorado Women’s Open. That also goes for newly minted college grads like the runner-up in last year’s event, Colorado State’s Katrina Prendergast, who’ll likely be looking for their first paycheck; LPGA rookie Becca Huffer, who’d be seeking her second CoBank Colorado Women’s Open championship; and star amateurs like DU’s Mary Weinstein.

“The field could be the strongest yet,” Laura says.

And how do the seniors feel about the switch? “Most of them are extremely flexible,”  he says, referring to their schedules.