The final edition of the major women’s golf tournament first known for its association with the late entertainer Dinah Shore to be played in Rancho Mirage began Thursday.
The LPGA and IMG, the global sports, events and talent management company which owns the tournament, announced in October that the Chevron Corp. would be the title sponsor of what was known as the ANA Inspiration from 2015-21.
The six-year agreement included a more than 60% increase in the tournament’s purse from $3.1 million to $5 million, but also its move, “most likely” to a course in the greater Houston area starting with the 2023 edition.
“We do not make the move lightly,” LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan said. “Since David Foster and Dinah Shore created this competition in 1972, it has held a special place in the hearts of our players and fans around the world. No matter where it is held, Dinah and her influence, along with the history built at Mission Hills, will be an integral part of The Chevron Championship.”
Foster was the CEO of the Colgate-Palmolive Co. when the tournament began play in 1972 as the Colgate-Dinah Shore Winner’s Circle, one of the first sporting events with a corporation as its title sponsor. Colgate-Palmolive used LPGA stars in its “Madge the Manicurist” commercials, where women would be unknowingly sinking their fingernails in Palmolive dishwashing liquid.
The tournament was known as the Colgate-Dinah Shore Winner’s Circle from 1972-80, the Colgate-Dinah Shore in 1981, the Nabisco Dinah Shore Invitational in 1982 and Nabisco Dinah Shore from 1983-1999.
The tournament became what was then one of women’s golf’s four championships in 1983. There are now five.
The tournament dropped Shore’s name following the 1999 edition to become the Nabisco Championship. It was known as the Kraft Nabisco Championship from 2002-14. The winner continues to receive a trophy named for Shore, who died in 1994.
The tournament has been played at Mission Hills Country Club throughout its existence. The only LPGA or PGA tournament to have been played longer at a single venue is the Masters.
“It’s definitely unfortunate that it will be moving from this special venue at Mission Hills,” said Lexi Thompson, the tournament’s 2014 champion. “I think we’re all about a bit bummer out about it, but at the same time, we’re not losing the event, we’re just losing the location. Hopefully something will happen out of it. Maybe we have another event here.”
The tournament is best known for the champion’s leap into Poppie’s Pond, located adjacent to the 18th green, a tradition begun in 1988 by Amy Alcott.
Neither the 1989 champion, Juli Inkster, nor the 1990 winner, Betsy King, made the leap. But when Alcott won for the third time in 1991, she was part of the most famous leap, joined by the then 75-year-old Shore and her caddy, Bill Kurre.
The champion has leaped in annually since 1994, except in 1998 when non-swimmer Pat Hurst waded in.
“The biggest thing about this event is Poppie’s Pond,” said Lydia Ko, who performed her iconic “I love you” heart sign as she took the leap after her victory in 2016. “I’m going to miss the tradition of that and every year hoping to be the one that gets to make that leap.”