A wise decision, moving the LPGA's Kia Classic from La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, Calif., to Industry Hills Golf Club in the City of Industry, a suburb of Los Angeles. This was the site to which the tournament initially was rumored to go, as was reported in this space more than a year ago.
The San Gabriel Valley, of which the City of Industry is a part, has the largest concentration of Asians in the U.S. In the City of Industry alone, one-fourth of its 360,000 residents is Asian. On a tour now dominated by Asians, with a tournament sponsored by an Asian concern, Kia Motors, that employs an American of Asian descent, Michelle Wie, as a spokesperson, it seems an astute move.
Blogger Geoff Shackelford disagrees, calling it "a place with zero golf karma" and an "utterly and unequivocably putrid grounds for golf. Two very long years are ahead for the LPGA's finest."
He is correct in noting that when the LPGA played there before (the Olympic Golf Classic in 1981 and '82, both won by Sally Little) the women weren't fond of it. It was too hard, which, incidentally, was probably an opinion shared by anyone who played it, including this writer. Legend has it that Fred Couples once shot a 71 on the Eisenhower Course, a course record that stood for 17 years.
The courses recently were renovated, however, to soften their rough edges. And in a difficult business environment, particularly for women's professional golf, it makes perfect sense to take your product to the heart of a large Asian population, in the suburbs of one of the largest Pacific Rim cities, however insufficient the locale's "golf karma" is.
-- John Strege