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John Reitman

By John Reitman

Historic Cincinnati course on the clock for new LPGA event


Kenwood Country Club in Cincinnati will be the site of a new LPGA event in September. Photo by Kenwood Country Club

Kenwood Country Club, a 36-hole facility in Cincinnati, will be the site of a new LPGA event, and the club's new superintendent will have just a few short months to prepare the club's championship course for the event.

The inaugural Kroger Queen City Classic presented by P&G, a new LPGA event scheduled for early September at Kenwood Country Club, has added two key members to its tournament brain trust. The club hired Nate Herman as director of agronomy and grounds.

"Launching and administering a new tour event requires a cast of thousands, but Nate and (tournament director) Emily (Norell) will steer the ship when it comes to successfully presenting the tournament, and the course itself," said Dylan Petrick, the CEO at Kenwood CC. "The Kroger Queen City Classic is a brand new tour stop, but Emily and Nate bring extraordinary tournament experience to the table. Everyone agrees the event could not be in better hands."

Herman arrives in Cincinnati from Harbor Shores Golf Club in Michigan, site of the PGA Champions Tour's Kitchenaid Senior PGA Championship. Herman also spent four years as head golf course superintendent at  Victoria National Golf Club in Newburgh, Indiana. Before being a head superintendent, Herman prepped at such venues like Pine Valley, Oakland Hills and Crooked Stick.

He will need that experience at Kenwood, where he has 10 months to prepare the recently restored Kendale Course for a championship event.

"That's just the way life is: I arrived at Harbor Shores less than a year before the 2018 Senior PGA, as well," said Herman, who replaced longtime Kenwood superintendent Kent Turner. "Tournament preparation, especially at these rarefied tournament levels, is all about preparing a course to peak at the right time. And, to be honest, that's as true for an LPGA event as it is for the club's member-guest. The Kendale course here at Kenwood is an amazing golf course, newly renovated. We'll have it looking and playing its best when the best players in the world arrive in September."

Donald Ross originally was retained for design work, but the club eventually settled on architect Bill Diddel to design the Kendale and Kenview courses, which opened in 1930. The club was the site of the 1954 Western Open and the 1963 Women's Open. The recent restoration project was completed by Fry/Straka Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design of Dublin, Ohio.

"I've joked that we should a statue in honor of Jason Straka," Herman said. "He was on the phone with me the day I was hired, and he was here in Cincinnati the next day to help get me up to speed. He's already been an incredible resource."

Donald Ross originally was retained for design work, but the club eventually settled on architect Bill Diddel to design the Kendale and Kenview courses, which opened in 1930.

Cincinnati boasts a long history with the LPGA. The area served as host to Women' PGA Championship from 1978 to 1989. Then known as the LPGA Championship, the event was held at the City of Mason Golf Center, formerly known as the Jack Nicklaus Golf Center. Tour legend Nancy Lopez won three of those events, including the inaugural tournament in 1978, another in 1985 and the last one, in 1989.

Fittingly, when the Kroger Queen City Classic presented by P&G was formally unveiled in early September 2021, Lopez was there at the press conference — along with one of her 21st century protégées, Lexi Thompson. They were on hand to promote the event, the city and the LPGA Tour. 

"I always say it's my tour," Lopez said. "It's still my tour."

The reach of the tournament will extend far beyond the golf course.

Lopez and Thompson also helped announce the off-course centerpiece of tournament week: a women's leadership summit, the program for which is still being formulated by Kroger, Procter & Gamble and the LPGA, with input from Norell and local stakeholders like Denise Kuprionis, the immediate past president of Kenwood CC, and Lesli Hopping, immediate past president of the Greater Cincinnati Golf Association — both of whom are the first women ever to serve in those positions.

"The LPGA has been empowering women and diversity for 75 years," Norell said. "Whatever form it takes, the Women's Leadership Conference will inspire greater opportunities for women on and off the course, especially in the workplace — because that's what the LPGA does and has always done. That's what Cincinnati has always done, which is yet another reason we're absolutely thrilled to be back in the Queen City, at Kenwood."

- Compiled from staff reports

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