The Loop

Is the LPGA preparing to partner with a Top Gun?

July 26, 2009

Rumors persist that the new LPGA tournament in the Los Angeles area scheduled to debut in 2010 will head to Industry Hills Golf Club at Pacific Palms Resort in the City of Industry, Calif. It's a 36-hole facility that played host to the LPGA's Olympia Golf Classic in 1981 and '82 (each won by Sally Little).

In January of 2006, the resort began renovation of its courses with the idea of enticing the LPGA to return there.

"More women are playing golf, and that's a whole segment of the population that we would like to attract to our courses," John Semcken, a co-owner of the resort, told the Los Angeles Times in October of 2005. "We think an LPGA event would be the perfect way to do it."

Semcken incidentally, is a Naval Academy graduate and a former Top Gun pilot who served as a technical advisor for the Tom Cruise film, "Top Gun."

In February, the LPGA announced that JoongAng Broadcasting Corp. of Korea had agreed to a five-year commitment to underwent a new event in the Los Angeles.

Industry Hills makes sense on a couple of fronts. The Los Angeles area has a large Asian population, much of it located in the San Gabriel Valley, of which the City of Industry is a part. In April, the resort hosted the third ELORD KoreAm Pro-Am, which featured 20 LPGA players, most of them part of the tour's Korean contingent.

Semcken, moreover, is a heavy hitter in Southern California; he's a right-hand man to billionaire Ed Roski, a real estate developer who built the Staples Center and is a part owner of the Lakers basketball team and the Kings hockey team. Roski and Semcken are attempting to bring a National Football League team to the Los Angeles area, with a new stadium that would be built in the City of Industry.

El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana, site of the Office Depot Championship hosted by Amy Alcott, also reportedly is interested in getting the event.

But for a beleaguered tour, partnering with a billionaire and his top gun would be a positive step after a series of missteps that led to commissioner Carolyn Bivens' resignation recently.

-- John Strege