The Concession Golf Club reportedly seeking 2017 Solheim Cup

jdill@bradenton.comMarch 9, 2013 

MANATEE -- The Concession Golf Club was founded off a pivotal moment in the history of the Ryder Cup, the world's most well-known match-play golf event.

And the course was built with match play in mind.

The Concession co-designer Tony Jacklin has heard rumblings that the East Manatee course wants to be in the running to host the 2017 Solheim Cup -- women's golf's version of the Ryder Cup, a biennial match-play tournament pitting top players from the United States against their European counterparts.

He says the tournament would be a perfect fit for the course.

"The key is getting it. If we can get it, I am bound to think we can accommodate it," said Jacklin, a two-time major champion who was involved in the first Ryder Cup tie after Jack Nicklaus conceded a short putt to him in 1969.

"The golf course would be a great match play golf course. We built it ... really for match play, to attract match play golf. It would just be wonderful for us, personally. And then, secondly, for the area and the state."

Jacklin would not confirm The Concession's bid. Calls to the course were not returned this week.

The bid process is involved and takes considerable time, said LPGA communications executive Kraig Kann.

This year's event will be held in August at Colorado Golf Club outside Denver, and the 2015 tournament will be held near Frankfurt, Germany. The previous American venue was Rich Harvest Farms, located roughly 45 miles from Chicago, in 2009.

"What they are really looking for is two things," Colorado Golf Club director of marketing Tom Ferrell said. "They are looking for engagement and involvement of the membership, and they're looking for engagement and involvement of the community."

To win the bid, a course must stand out. That means having a top-notch venue in addition to the infrastructure needed to pull off a major international event.

"It goes on for years before the actual event," said Kann, who declined to identify which courses are bidding for the 2017 Solheim Cup. "And that's all for planning purposes -- not only for the venue that is ultimately chosen, but also for the tour. So that we can plan as well."

The Concession isn't a stranger to hosting top tournaments. It has played host to the Big Ten Match Play Championship and the Callaway Collegiate Match Play. And the course will host the NCAA Division I Men's and Women's National Championship in 2015.

If the Solheim Cup comes to Manatee County, it would mean a huge economic boon to the area. The 2009 tournament held in Illinois generated 120,000 spectators for the week as well as between $50 million and $70 million, Rich Harvest Farms owner Jerry Rich said.

Aiding a potential Concession bid is its location and reputation. Golf Digest named it "the best new private course of 2006." And the course sits on roughly 500 acres, and is well east in the county to give the venue plenty of space to accommodate the droves of people who turn out for the event.

Also, Manatee County isn't too far from bustling Tampa, another major factor to The Concession bid.

The majority of hotels from Sugar Grove, site of the 2009 Solheim Cup, all the way to downtown Chicago were booked, Rich said.

"We were able to impact the area quite heavily," Rich said. "We were able to bring a lot of dollars into all of the communities."

And should the event come to Manatee County, it would easily become the biggest golf tournament and possibly the biggest sporting event ever to grace the region.

"It'd be huge," Jacklin said. "It'd be great for the area, it'd be great for the state. Obviously, the Solheim has grown in stature. It's become the major women's event in golf. And it'd be an honor for us to host it."

Jason Dill, Herald sports reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7017. Follow him on Twitter @jason_dill.

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