Years of preparation, Circling Raven ready to host the Symetra Tour event
Circling Raven Golf Club debuted in 2003, and its creative layout nestled amidst 620 scenic acres immediately wowed golfers in the area.
This week, the course joins a company selected as the site of a professional event with 132 of the best female golfers on the planet set to compete in the inaugural Circling Raven Championship. The 54-hole tournament from Friday to Sunday will be the 16th of 20 events this season on the Symetra Tour, the LPGA’s qualifying round.
“It’s a big deal,” said Laura Penney, CEO of the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort, which will be home to many players. “We are all excited about the caliber of golfers arriving and the prestige and recognition of the tournament is unique in this region.
“We are proud to share our beautiful golf course, hotel-casino, reservation and hospitality.”
The concept of hosting a Symetra tournament was first broached by Circling Raven publicist Dan Shepherd, who had done PR work for the Island Resort and Casino in the Hannahville Indian community on the Upper Peninsula. from Michigan.
The Island Resort Championship has been an annual stop on the Symetra Tour since 2011 and is considered one of the reasons for the exponential growth of the resort’s stay and play golf packages.
“I’ve represented many courses and destinations around the world and learned if a property has the kind of potential to have a marketing partnership with a tour,” Shepherd said. “Any business run by the tribe (Coeur d’Alene), its mission is to be commercially successful, to improve the tribe through it and to empower Native Americans, youth and women. “
Discussions with the Hannahville Indian community helped convince the Coeur d’Alene tribe to participate in a Symetra tournament. Circling Raven sent a small team, including Director of Golf Dave Christenson, to Michigan during the Island Resort Championship to learn more about hosting a professional event.
“I played in their (pro-am) event and took care of the logistics of it all,” Christenson said. “They were open and ready to share their marketing plan and approach. We have reflected a lot of this.
“They said the exposure they got from the Symetra, relative to the price, was the best value in golf. They cheered us on and said our sponsors are going to have such a great time playing (in pro-am) with these women that they’ll call and make sure they’re there for next year.
Penney added, “They were awesome. They really disclosed what worked and what didn’t and they thought it would be a perfect fit for us.
He also appears to be a great choice for the Symetra Tour.
“We have a few other events with casino golf resort properties and they have been huge advocates,” said Matthew Clark, Symetra Tour senior coordinator for tournament business affairs. “For us, if you ask my boss, his two main goals are 1). To increase the amount of prizes we play for each year and 2). The quality of the courses we play.
“Circling Raven is the # 1 public course in Idaho, which ticks that box big. The scholarship is $ 200,000. A few years ago, $ 200,000 was the biggest part of the tour. The average touring scholarship is $ 190,000.
The Coeur d’Alene tribe were approached by other professional tours to host a tournament, but hesitated as it would have required modifications to accommodate large crowds.
“When we opened Circling Raven we knew it was something special that it’s such a beautiful field,” said Penney. “We have gone to great lengths not to interrupt the natural elements.”
Circling Raven will host the tournament for at least three years, according to the agreement announced in August 2019. The first Circling Raven Championship was canceled last August in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was unfortunate, but I got tons of thank you letters and words of encouragement from ladies across the country,” said Penney, who is passionate about golf. “I was very impressed with their professionalism.
“I’ll be outside watching and following some of these ladies. I look forward to (the pro-am). It will be nice to come out and rock the club and watch our pros in action. And we will definitely take note of the things we can do to improve or enhance this event. “