Humble Beginnings with a Bright Future
The golf tournament began in 2013 when PGA TOUR professional Brian Gay offered to lend his name to the inaugural event to help raise money for Florida Hospital for Children. More than 300 golfers, celebrities and spectators attended the event, including a celebrity-only golf tournament with a $40,000 purse.
In 2014, the tournament expanded to include professional players and a private headline concert by country music artist and celebrity ambassador Colt Ford. After the success, the tournament creators realized they had the right sports action and entertainment combination to build a bright future and potential legacy.
The tournament continued to grow in recognition, and in 2016 it officially changed to an invitational. For the first time, it was nationally televised on Golf Channel, featured a modified Stableford scoring format, and included a $500,000 purse. It was a groundbreaking event and quickly caught media and spectator attention. The following year, it became a PGA TOUR Champions Challenge Season event with 27 PGA TOUR Champions players, three LPGA players and 48 amateur celebrity players. Threesomes included one professional and two celebrities playing their ball from the same tees for separate purses totaling $1.2 million. The once amateur golf tournament had grown into a weeklong, multidimensional vacation experience. The fun continued in 2018, with a similar tournament format.
Everything changed in 2019.
The Tournament of Champions launched as a brand-new, one-of-a-kind tournament, bringing back a winners-only format that the LPGA hadn’t held in more than a decade. As an official LPGA tournament and 2019 season opener, 26 LPGA winners from the 2017 and 2018 seasons competed for $1.2 million in official prize money. The champions were joined by 49 sports and entertainment celebrities competing for their own $500,000 purse, along with several amateur golfers, who qualified in the event’s Pro-Am to play during official tournament rounds.
Over the last few years, the Tournament of Champions has become known as LPGA’s “Party on Tour,” with unique fan experiences located throughout the course and the ability to interact personally with the LPGA and celebrity players. This one-of-a-kind tournament has live entertainment on the 18th hole to cheer on the players, themed international food and drink stations throughout the course, and countless opportunities to watch favorite players up close. The 2021 event enacted COVID-19 safety precautions, ensuring that the players’, staff’s, and attendees’ health and safety were maintained throughout the event.
Now billed as the place “Where World-Class Golf Meets World-Class Entertainment,” the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions took the golf course experience to new levels and a new location in 2022. This year’s event was held at the renowned and beautiful Lake Nona Golf & Country Club in Orlando — one of the premier golfing destinations in the country. Featuring 50 beloved celebrities, athletes and entertainers playing alongside 29 LPGA champions, the four-day tournament wrapped on Sunday, January 23, with LPGA Tour player and 2017 major champion Danielle Kang winning the professional title and 2004 World Series champion Derek Lowe clinching the celebrity title in a one-hole playoff against LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam.