Hazeltine, city of Chaska welcome arrival of LPGA Championship

It’s been 40 years since women’s professional golf came back to Minnesota, but this week the LPGA Championship is coming to Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska.

After several years of preparation, the tournament is set to officially kick off Tuesday.

Both golf enthusiasts and local businesses are hoping another major in the area brings in the crowds.

So far, tournament organizers say ticket sales look good. They won’t release specifics, but they say they are ahead of what they expected to sell.

Unlike the Ryder Cup help there a few years ago, on-site parking and better logistics will give fans unique and intimate access to the course and some of the best golfers in the world.

In between a few sprinkles of rain, many of the top golfers on the tour got in some practice on the putting green at Hazeltine Monday.

“We haven’t had the women here since 1977 so it’s been over 40 years and it’s time to welcome them back and we couldn’t be more excited that they are finally here,” said Chandler Withington, Hazeltine’s head pro.

Last time Hazeltine hosted a major golf event was the 2016 Ryder Cup, which brought the usual glitz and glam, but limited access for fans to see their favorite players up close.

The LPGA Tournament will give locals more room to walk the course and cheer on golfers right beside them.

“I think what people traded off when they came to the Ryder Cup was huge crowds, not a lot of players, you didn’t get to see a lot of golf,” Withington said. “If you come out to this event, you see a lot of golf.”

The logistics for the KPMG LPGA Championship will also provide spectators with more opportunities for parking and to explore nearby communities like Chaska.

Local business owners are hiring extra staff and hoping to cash in on the influx of crowds throughout the week.

Jeff Flipek, the president of the Southwest Metro Chamber of Commerce, hopes the tournament will attract people to those nearby businesses.

“We have our farmer’s market, the curling center,” Flipek said. “It’s a little different than the Ryder Cup. I think more people will stay in town so I think our local businesses will really benefit by that.”

Practice rounds are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday with the major beginning Thursday morning. Big names like Michelle Wie are set to tee off before noon.