Opelika and all of the Lee County area gained great national exposure when professional golf played its PGA Barbasol Championship here for three consecutive years before moving last season’s event to Kentucky.

The summer heat of mid-July, it seems, was too much for golfers, volunteers and fans alike.

Coming soon, however, is professional golf making its return to Lee County with the LGPA women’s tournament Zimmer Biomet Championship, part of the Symetra Tour; and along with it an international roster of players.

Once again, we have a chance to shine in the national spotlight on golf, a spotlight that brings attention to much more than the game itself.

The Lake Course at Grand National in Opelika, part of the famed Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail that extends throughout Alabama, will host the event May 23-26.

Three former Auburn University golfers – Cydney Clanton from Concord N.C., and sisters Marta Sanz Barrio and Patricia Sanz Barrio from Madrid, Span – will join the field of 137 competitors in the tournament, hosted by Nancy Lopez, one of the biggest names in LGPA history.

Players will compete for a $300,000 purse. The purse breaks the previous record of $250,000 set in 2016.

Opelika, Lee County and Alabama, however, will compete for something more: positive national exposure that can showcase the area’s appeal to golfers, retirees and others who might be interested in coming here and providing that always-welcomed economic boost.

Not to mention a reputation as a great place to visit or live.

Adding to that reputation and to our area being known as a golf destination, on Monday the Auburn Tigers women's team opens one of the four NCAA Regionals in the country as the host team at Saugahatchee Country Club.

That, too, is a big deal.

The upcoming LGPA tournament deserves all the local support we can give it. Professional golf is good for the area, even if you’re not a golfer.

Admission and volunteers

Alabama is one of only six states that will host multiple events on the “Road to the LPGA” in 2019 through the Symetra Tour. The tour will feature 24 tournaments in whole, and boasts a total $4 million in purses.

Admission to the upcoming Zimmer Biomet Championship on May 23-26 in Opelika is free.

To get the most out of this unique opportunity, consider volunteering for the event. Information about the tournament and how to volunteer is online at www.rtjgolf.com.

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