Every so often you hear about a tournament being “retired” or shut down for various reasons, mostly financial. But a tournament being revived, particularly one that had been dormant for 22 years?
At the end of May, the Pennsylvania Women’s Open will be held for the first time in nearly a quarter century, the event set for Valley Country Club in Sugarloaf, Pa.
There are a lot of pieces that came together to bring the event back to life. Strangely enough, it starts with a struggling golf course. The Valley C.C., designed by A.W. Tillinghast, was founded in 1909. The course recently faced financial problems, until a local resident, Tony Salvaggio, chairman and founder of Computer Aid, an IT services company, purchased it in 2016.
“It is an absolute gem of a golf course,” Salvaggio said. “It also was important to me to maintain this great course and complex for the people of the Hazleton area, which I have a deep family and personal affinity for.”
Subsequently, another local, Symetra Tour pro Kate Scarpetta, played Valley C.C. with Salvaggio, and the idea arose about hosting a tournament in order to help revitalize the course.
“Nothing brings life to a course like a tournament,” Scarpetta said. “The guys were talking about a Pennsylvania Senior Open. But I was like, we should get the women’s back first.”
Salvaggio liked the idea, and Computer Aid became the title sponsor.
“The opportunity to support and help create a Pennsylvania Women’s Open is extremely exciting for me,” said Salvaggio.
With support from sponsors, help from the Pennsylvania Golf Association, and the rent-free workspace of her parents’ kitchen table, Scarpetta has been working since December to pull the tournament together. Competitive rounds will be held May 26 and 27, with a pro-am on May 25. Players on the Symetra Tour, including Madison Pressel, Morgan Pressel’s younger sister, have committed to the event.
Making the event’s return even more notable is what the 60-some players in the field will be competing for—a sizable $100,000 purse. By comparison, notable state opens around the country often have purses in the five-figure range. The prize money is also more than double the $40,000 up for grabs in the men’s state Open, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016.
“The purse isn’t crazy,” contends Scarpetta. “It’s what these players should be playing for.”
The tournament also has a cause its promoting—autism. The Autism and Developmental Medicine Institute, which provides care for people with autism and other developmental disorders and is located in Lewisburg, Pa., has been designated the beneficiary of the event. Scarpetta said they chose ADMI as the foundation they wanted to support because of how difficult it is for rural residents with autism in the state to receive care.
“One in 68 kids have autism,” says Scarpetta. “This is a real problem in this area, and we want to help the local community.”
The cause aligns well with the title sponsor, Computer Aid, Inc., which has an Autism Initiative Program, where adults with autism are trained for careers in IT.
Scarpetta, who hopes the event can return on an annual basis, believes it can once again be a mainstay on the state’s competitive calendar, as well as do a lot of good for the Valley C.C. and ADMI in the process.
Said Scarpetta, “The perfect team of people came together at the right time.”