Zephyr Melton

January 20, 2023

Ally Ewing fist bumps NFL Corridor of Famer Emmitt Smith on the HGV Event of Champions.

Getty Photographs

ORLANDO, Fla. — Lake Nona is the place to be — and be seen — this week on this planet {of professional} golf.

Whereas the boys duke it out for hundreds of thousands within the Coachella Valley, the women are kicking off their season in Central Florida. And although there are solely 29 LPGA execs teeing it up, the sector is way from brief on star energy.

Nelly Korda is right here, outfitted in Nike gear and gaming her new TaylorMade golf equipment. Her fellow new TaylorMade-signee Brooke Henderson is on web site, too, pacing the sector as she appears for her thirteenth LPGA victory. And lest we overlook Danielle Kang, the fiery 30-year-old seeking to defend her 2022 title.

The celebs of ladies’s golf have assembled this week, however so too have a few of the greatest stars on this planet. The Hilton Grand Holidays Event of Champions is perhaps the primary occasion on the LPGA calendar, nevertheless it’s additionally the primary of many superstar pro-ams this season that can carry to golf some notable names from different walks.

John Smoltz. Vince Carter. Larry the Cable Man. Alfonso Ribeiro. Blair O’Neal. Check out the celeb leaderboard and also you’re certain to see quite a lot of names that you just acknowledge.

And that’s an excellent factor.

When celebrities tee it up alongside professional golfers, informal followers get invested (see: Pebble Seashore Professional-Am, The Match, and so on.) Higher but, when celebs play in golf tournaments, their attain brings new eyeballs to the game.

Take this week, for instance. Stroll the grounds and also you’ll see NFL jerseys (Emmitt Smith, Brian Urlacher), soccer kits (Taylor Twellman) and even grown males carrying baseball playing cards. That’s to not point out the groupies intent on snagging photos with Ben Higgins and Chris Harrison of The Bachelor fame.

If these athletes and celebs weren’t within the subject, followers would nonetheless be right here. However the clientele would seemingly be a bit totally different. Gone can be the bros searching for autographs from their childhood heroes, together with The Bachelor followers hanging by the 18th inexperienced.

That’s the wonderful thing about occasions like these — they increase the attain of what would in any other case be simply one other occasion.

“It’s actually cool that the HGV Event of Champions brings folks in yearly that will by no means have been to a golf match earlier than,” match director Aaron Stewart mentioned in an interview. “It exposes these followers of different sports activities to the sport of golf. They get to see the world’s finest feminine golfers compete alongside Corridor of Fame athletes and celebrities from music and leisure. In that method, it helps usher in a unique demographic of followers than who would attend different LPGA occasions all year long.”

Even higher, the gamers love the format. Getting to hold with celebs for 4 days straight isn’t one thing that comes round typically. It’s simply one other perk of profitable on the LPGA.

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Zephyr Melton

“You’re out right here competing with totally different celebrities, former athletes, present athletes,” Nelly Korda mentioned. “This occasion is so particular.”

It’s not solely the professionals who profit. The athletes additionally get an up-close-and-personal take a look at a few of the finest golfers on the planet.

Simply final month, Jordan Spieth (amongst different execs) marveled watching Korda play within the PNC Championship. With the grind of the PGA Tour schedule, it’s forgivable that a few of the male stars have been unfamiliar with Korda’s recreation. However sharing a enjoying subject along with her compelled them to take discover, and so they got here away impressed.

“I don’t understand how she doesn’t win each week,” Max Homa mentioned on the QBE Shootout after being paired with Korda. “It’s a testomony to those different girls that anybody might even sniff beating her as a result of that was wildly spectacular.”

That’s a typical sentiment amongst newbies watching the LPGA. These gals are good is one thing many celebs are studying this week. And due to the draw of the these athletes and actors, some followers are studying that lesson as nicely.

That’s an excellent factor.

Zephyr Melton Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for the place he spends his days running a blog, producing and modifying. Previous to becoming a member of the workforce at, he attended the College of Texas adopted by stops with Staff USA, the Inexperienced Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all issues instruction and covers novice and ladies’s golf.

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