Pelican Women’s Championship, a masterpiece in the making | LPGA

BELLEAIR, FLORIDA | Even in the whimsical world of modern art, with its underlying rumors of money laundering and tax shelters, this piece has garnered attention. And not just the high-browed critic wearing crumpled pants and those hip new red-soled shoes, but the look of ordinary people, the guy in the striped shirt Peter Millar who couldn’t pick a Monet from a range and could confuse Georgia O’Keefe with a player on the field this week at the Pelican Women’s Championship. This guy also did a double take, looking at the original piece, acrylic on canvas with red and blue swirls and splash of white stars; undoubtedly Old Glory in windblown flight with the touch of an artist who spent some time in his youth watching Jackson Pollocks, just as those who walk past this work stand up and linger. But the guy in the golf shirt asked a question the most cultured reviewer almost certainly would have missed. Why is it hanging outside the men’s restroom?

The answer does not come immediately. But with a little more time to wander around, you realize that it’s just one touch of the Pelican Golf Club that lets you know there is no need to skimp here.

The piece of art in question hangs in the learning center, a white wedding cake of a structure with three typing bays, two at the bottom and one stacked at the top, where one would expect may the most capricious of Florida come for an hour on the TrackMan or to test the last round of Grand Bassara. This is the middle building, between the clubhouse and the villas, which features two eight-bedroom layouts and a 12-bedroom boutique hotel where out-of-town members can spend a night or two while enjoying the amenities of one of the best in this area. find.

“It’s not typical Florida golf,” said Sarah Kemp, who will play her first Pelican Women’s Championship this week. By that, she means that the Pelican Golf Club does not have a serpentine path with water on one side of each hole and condos on the other. No one put a garbage bunker near a T-shirt to steal grass. And you won’t find a cart path beyond the driving range. It’s content and contiguous golf, an easy walk that puts a smile on your face and makes you think that’s what the game is meant to be.

“We bought this golf course in June 2017,” said club owner Dan Doyle Jr. “The town came to us to ask for a donation for an infrastructure project, and jokingly we said : “You have this golf course. We will buy the golf course. This covers your infrastructure project. We would like to own the golf course. ‘”

Doyle is one of the region’s most successful entrepreneurs. He is the CEO of DEX Imaging, the digital document company found in Staples across the country. He also grew up two miles from what was once called the Belleview Biltmore, a Donald Ross course opened in 1927, when Florida was closer to the panther and bear infested wilderness of a novel. of Margorie Kinnan Rawlings as the Tampa-St. Pete metroplex you find today.

“When I was a kid you paid $ 120 and you could play unlimited golf in the summer from 2:00 pm,” Doyle said. “You would arrive here at 1:30 am, have a hot dog, you would wait and at 2:00 am you will take the start. Afternoon thunderstorms were coming for you to find the tallest tree to hide under. Mom would pick me up when it was dark. I’ve been doing this for probably three or four summers in a row.

The Belleview Biltmore had long seen its best days. The neighborhood was no longer a remarkable winter retreat for wealthy industrialists who rode their own wagons south after the first snowfall. The golf course had become like a beautiful woman living on the street, ragged and worn down with dirt entering her pores.

“We kind of wanted to bring back that old world chandelier,” Doyle said. “But we also wanted to make the game fun. We have a great women’s golf group that play Tuesdays and Thursdays. They play on Saturday morning. They actually get early morning tee times. Then we have a bunch of young girls, young girls, all in high school, about six of them, playing here phenomenally. I love to take them out and play golf with them because you’ll have a cocky man who thinks he can beat them, and these girls are hitting the ball. It’s just fun to watch.

The club is structured for everyone, with a lot of effort to make women feel comfortable. Three professional staff played high-performance college girls’ golf. And the ladies’ locker room overlooks the 18th green, leaving the men without a view beyond the three televisions hanging on the wall.

“When it came to hosting the tournament, our golf director Justin Sheehan called me when we literally had a trailer parked on the side of the street, it was a pile of dirt, these buildings weren’t there. ‘didn’t exist, and Justin called. and he said, ‘Hey, I have a great idea. What if we had an LPGA event? ‘ I think he expected a debate, which led to, “Okay, what do we have to do? He said, “Well, I’m going to set up a meeting.” “

Now, the penultimate week of the LPGA Tour calendar appears to have found a home.

“The idea is that we want to make it an amazing event. We’re not there yet, but we’ll get there, ”Doyle said. “But when we get there, I’ll tell you we’re going to take it to the next level.

“What we would love to do with it is a ladies tournament that they come to every year. The only way I could assimilate it would be, you have the Masters, and they play it in Augusta every year. We want this to be the female version of the Masters. It would be, “Hey, we got what we wanted. “

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