Scouring through old tournament records isn't a glamorous job.
But every year I give it a go, hoping to find a nugget of information lost to history. It's what makes the story of McCormick Ranch Golf Club and other former LPGA Tour venues so rewarding.
Did you know that the 36-hole club in Scottsdale, Ariz., once hosted the best female players in the world? Probably not because 1, it's not promoted on the course website, and 2, not even Stuart Kirk knew.
Kirk, the president of the 36-hole club, has been working at McCormick Ranch since his parents bought it in 1980. He only found out about the Palm course hosting the 1976 Karsten-Ping Open after I prompted him for information about the tournament.
He reached out to a Ping historian and got the confirmation that, in fact, Judy Rankin had won the only LPGA Tour event ever held there. In a bit of an interesting twist, Rankin used to play golf with his mom when both were children.
The first Karsten-Ping Open was held in 1975 at what was then the Camelback Country Club. In 1976, weather issues forced the tournament to move from Camelback (now the Camelback Golf Club affiliated with the JW Marriott) to McCormick Ranch. Neither course hosted another pro tournament ever again, essentially becoming two more stops in a long line of what I'm calling "one-hit wonders" on the LPGA Tour.
Sponsors, and tournaments, come and go with regularity on the LPGA Tour, especially in the early years. What I found surprising in researching this story is how many of the today's owners and staff of these one-hit-wonder venues don't know anything about their history with the LPGA Tour. How could they neglect, and not promote, such an interesting part of club lore? If these were PGA Tour events, you can bet each course would be trumpeting the theme to come "play where the pros play" on a regular basis.
I guess I'll do the promoting for them. Growing up in the 1980s, I learned to appreciate a good one-hit wonder. Hosting one is better than none, right?
The 60 one-hit wonders on the LPGA Tour profiled in this story (including Camelback and McCormick Ranch) are a collection of public courses from around the country with some international clubs mixed in as well. I'm not about to let these once-proud tournaments disappear into the sands of time. You shouldn't either. Why not go play a round and remember when?
Random one-hit wonders
Papago Golf Course, Phoenix
Tournament (winner): 2009 J Golf Phoenix LPGA International Presented by Mirassou Winery (Karrie Webb).
Comment: William F. (Billy) Bell designed this city muni, which stretches to 7,333 yards. A $5.8 million restoration in 2008 brought the 1963 design into the modern era. Golf Advisor reviews average to four stars.
Hills course at Lincoln Hills Golf Club, Lincoln, Calif.
Tournament (winner): 2003 Longs Drugs Challenge (Helen Alfredsson).
Comment: Lincoln Hills opened its Greg Nash/Billy Casper course outside of Sacramento in 1999 before adding The Orchard course in 2005. The tournament moved to the Ridge Golf Course & Events Center in Auburn for its final two years.
Battlefield course at Legends on the Niagara, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Tournament (winner): 2004 BMO Financial Group Canadian Women's Open (Meg Mallon).
Comment: Golfers can bomb away on this wide-open, fairly flat course, although bunkers are always lurking. Water comes into play on eight holes, including a man-made 19-acre lake that anchors the finishing hole on each nine.
Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.
Tournament (winner): 2005 Office Depot Championship (Hee-Won Han).
Comment: A typical Pete Dye design, the old Ocean Trails course, which famously washed into the ocean before being bought by Donald Trump, is as visually intimidating as it is beautiful. There's always a barranca, bunker or ball-gobbling brush ready to strike. The par-3 eighth, par-4 ninth and par-4 16th all require daunting approach shots around ponds.
East course at TPC Dorado Beach, Dorado, Puerto Rico
Tournament (winner): 1989 Mazda Team Championships (Patti Rizzo/Mike Hill).
Comment: RTJ II renovated his father's Caribbean masterpiece in 2011, clearing out jungle and trees to give it a cleaner look and open up ocean views. The Mazda showcased Senior Tour and LPGA Tour players in a two-person best ball.
The Legacy Golf Resort, Phoenix
Tournament (winner): 2000 Standard Register PING (Charlotta Sorenstam).
Comment: Gary Panks transformed part of Dwight B. Heard's 7,500-acre ranch into a unique golf course. Two original grain silos, built in 1902, remain along the 18th fairway and were once the tallest structures in Maricopa County. The Sierra Vista House, which marks the first tee, was visited in the early 1900s by Theodore Roosevelt and Pancho Villa, a prominent figure in the Mexican Revolution.
Ocean course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links, Half Moon Bay, Calif.
Tournament (winner): 2008 Samsung World Championship (Paula Creamer).
Comment: Although I favor the shot-making of the Old course, the Ocean course by Arthur Hills doesn't have any houses to obstruct the views of the Pacific Ocean.
Bay course at Kapalua Resort, Maui, Hawaii
Tournament (winner): 2008 Kapalua LPGA Classic (Morgan Pressel).
Comment: While the men visit the more famous Plantation course every year, the women had a short dance with the Bay course, which is beautiful in its own right.
Glen Abbey Golf Club, Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Tournament (winner): 1997 du Maurier Classic (Colleen Walker).
Comment: This famous Jack Nicklaus design that has hosted 28 Canadian Opens has been given a reprieve from being redeveloped into housing, for now. The club is also the headquarters of Golf Canada, the Canadian Golf Museum and Hall of Fame, and a TaylorMade Performance Lab.
Cinnamon Hill Golf Course at Rose Hall, Montego Bay, Jamaica
Tournament (winner): 2010 The Mojo 6 Jamaica LPGA Invitational (Anna Nordqvist).
Comment: There's such variety on Cinnamon Hill -- from two glorious ocean holes at the par-4 fifth and par-3 sixth to a back nine of jungle holes, ending with risk-reward par 5s at the 17th and 18th.
Lake course at Grand National, Auburn/Opelika, Ala.
Tournament (winner): 1998 Lifetime's AFLAC Tournament of Champions (Kelly Robbins).
Comment: The current host of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship in July, the Lakes pops on TV with 12 holes hugging the shore of Lake Saugahatchee. The quartet of par 3s is as good as any in the nation, according to the course website.
Oak Brook Golf Club, Oak Brook, Ill.
Tournament (winner): 1991 LPGA Chicago Sun-Times Shoot-Out (Martha Nause).
Comment: Nause cemented her victory with a birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle finish, holing out from the fairway on the 18th at this Chicago-area muni. Another little known fact -- nine holes of Oak Brook hosted the 1987 Western Open when flooding plagued the exclusive original venue, the Butler National Golf Club, next door.
Wind Watch Golf & Country Club, Hauppauge, N.Y.
Tournament (winner): 1977 Long Island Charity Classic (Debbie Austin).
Comment: Wind Watch was known as the Colonie Hill Country Club during the tournament before redesigns by Joe Lee (1990) and Stephen Kay (1997). ClubCorp, Inc., the current owner, operates Wind Watch as a semiprivate club on Long Island.
East course at the Inn at Pocono Manor, Pocono Manor, Pa.
Tournament (winner): 1977 Pocono Northeast Classic (Debbie Austin).
Comment: The Inn at Pocono Manor is a mountaintop resort listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The 105-year-old East course showcases holes designed by classic-era giants Donald Ross and William Flynn and has challenged dozens of top professionals during tournaments and pro-am events -- Art Wall Jr., Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Tommy Bolt, Cary Middlecoff, Roberto De Vicenzo and others.
Eagle Pointe Golf Resort, Bloomington, Ind.
Tournament (winner): 1976 Bloomington Bicentennial Classic (Sandra Palmer).
Comment: The course, known as the Lake Monroe at the Pointe Golf Club during the tournament, has a new owner investing money on improvements. Golf Advisor user "riz777" gave the course five stars in his review in 2016, writing: "This course was in the best condition it has ever been and I've been playing it for over 15 years. Great course. Great layout. Challenging."
Armitage Golf Club, Mechanicsburg, Pa.
Tournament (winner): 1977 Lady Keystone Open (Sandra Spuzich).
Comment: The 5,933-yard Hampden Township-owned municipal course has been named "Simply the Best" public golf course 14 out of last 16 years by Harrisburg Magazine. Recent bunker work has improved playability. It averages four stars on Golf Advisor.
The Tanglewood Club, Chagrin Falls, Ohio
Tournament (winner): 1976 Babe Zaharias Invitational (Judy Rankin).
Comment: Rankin was the only player under par at this former private club. A recent million-dollar renovation included course improvements, remodeled banquet facilities and new carts. Lakes and tree-lined fairways on this 7,050-yard course will challenge any player.
Palms course at Pompano Beach Golf Club, Pompano Beach, Fla.
Tournament (winner): 1973 Pompano Beach Classic (Sandra Palmer).
Comment: The 6,280-yard tournament host is now the second fiddle to the Pines course, which was renovated by Greg Norman in 2013.
C.W. Koiner course at Brookside Golf Club, Pasadena, Calif.
Tournament (winner): 1972 Suzuki Golf Internationale (Jane Blalock).
Comment: This city muni designed by William P. Bell is adjacent to the Rose Bowl (it's used for parking on game days). The 7,104-yard course, host of the 1968 Los Angeles Open won by Billy Casper, is known for its slick greens.
Memorial Park Golf Course, Houston
Tournament (winner): 1972 Lady Eve Open (Judy Rankin).
Comment: Through the years, the city muni has hosted many famous golfers, including Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Jimmy Demaret. It was the home of the Houston Open from 1951-63. A 1995 renovation revived the course and opened with a lighted driving range, putting and chipping greens, and a beautiful new clubhouse facility.
St. Mark Golf Club at Lake House Hotel and Resort, San Marcos, Calif.
Tournament (winner): 1969 Mickey Wright Invitational (Carol Mann).
Comment: The former Lake San Marcos Country Club changed to its current name less than five years ago when the current owner bought the club. The 6,400-yard par-71 layout, designed by Harry Rainville, boasts a links-style experience with stunning backdrops of the skinny inland land northeast of San Diego.
Ocean Shores Golf Club, Ocean Shores, Wash.
Tournament (winner): 1969 Wendell-West Open (Kathy Whitworth).
Comment: Ocean Shores went from a modest six-hole course opening in 1961 to hosting the LPGA Tour in less than a decade, thanks to the support of singer/actor Pat Boone, who started a celebrity classic in 1966. The front nine of the 6,252-yard par 71 weaves through the fir, hemlock and spruce trees of the Pacific Northwest before becoming a more linksy back nine.
The Grand Palms Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort, Pembroke Pines, Fla.
Tournament (winner): 1968 Hollywood Lakes Open (Peggy Wilson).
Comment: The former 36-hole Hollywood Lakes Country Club became a 27-hole facility in 1991, redesigned by Ward Northrup. Golf Advisor user "snswilliams," a top 1000 contributor, labeled his review "27 holes of fun!," adding: "Have played here many times. Course was in great shape. Always fun to play. Challenging all around."
Montebello Municipal Golf Club, Montebello, Calif.
Tournament (winner): 1967 Ladies' Los Angeles Open (Kathy Whitworth).
Comment: This historic 6,616-yard muni dates to 1928. A renovation in the late 1990s added three lakes to spruce up the aesthetics. The lone Golf Advisor review from 2014 is four star.
Huntington Park Golf Course, Shreveport, La.
Tournament (winner): 1970 Shreveport Kiwanis Invitational (Sandra Haynie).
Comment: The city-owned municipal course dating to 1965 underwent major renovations, reopening in 2015 with new greens, cart paths and drainage.
One-hit wonder oldies
Blacklick Woods Golf Course, Reynoldsburg, Ohio
Tournament (winner): 1966 Lady Carling Open (Clifford Ann Creed).
Comment: Creed won $2,625 on the old Stoney Creek Country Club, which is now a metropark course in suburban Columbus. Compare that with the half a million dollars Charlie Hull won at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in 2016.
Gulf Hills Golf Club, Ocean Springs, Miss.
Tournament (winner): 1963 Mary Mills Mississippi Gulf Coast Invitational (Kathy Whitworth).
Comment: The 6,266-yard course now owned by the residents of the community was also a dude ranch when Whitworth won. Water comes into play on six holes.
Hot Springs Country Club, Hot Springs, Ark.
Tournament (winner): 1956 Arkansas Open (Patty Berg).
Comment: Although the club doesn't have any definitive evidence that it hosted the tournament -- it's not listed in the book about the history of the club -- this tournament was likely held on the 6,836-yard Park course, which was constructed in 1898 by Willie Park Jr. and renovated by Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw in 2001. Barry Howard, the longtime general manager at the club, says the Arlington course, which hosted the PGA Tour from 1955-63, didn't have women's tees until a redesign in 1994.
Mid Pines Golf Club, Southern Pines, N.C.
Tournament (winner): 1959 Howard Johnson Invitational (Joyce Ziske).
Comment: This original Donald Ross routing dating to 1921 reopened in August 2013 after architect Kyle Franz used aerial photos from the Tufts Archives as a blueprint to uncover sandy native areas lining in the fairways that had been lost over the years. The greens, recovered in Bermuda grass, were expanded by 20 to 25 percent to bring back their original shapes. Bunkers were redone or removed. All the rough has been mowed away, resulting in wide fairways. The graceful Georgian-style Inn, a bastion of Southern hospitality, frames the final green.
Tournament (winner): 1963 Sunshine Women's Open (Betsy Rawls).
Comment: The old Lejeune Golf Club was renamed in 1973 to honor Mel Reese, a former city manager who loved golf. Following a major renovation in 1996-97, the water-logged 7,173-yard muni near the Miami airport is the home to a First Tee program, several college teams and was the training grounds of future pros Tracy Kerdyk, Christie Kerr, Patti Rizzo and Moira Dunn. When he's not competing on the PGA Tour, Erik Compton regularly practices on the two-sided range built in 2012.
Mt. Prospect Golf Club, Mount Prospect, Ill.
Tournament (winner): 1959 Mt. Prospect Open (Betsy Rawls).
Comment: A renovation completed in 2015 improved course conditions and added old-school architecture to the greens, creating Redan, Eden and Punchbowl greens and a Biarritz par 3. Not every golfer is a fan. Golf Advisor user ‘royhobbs33' wrote: “The course layout is great since the remodel but the greens are ridiculously hard. There are at least 3 tiers on each green, and, if you're on the wrong tier, good luck. They've made the greens way too hard for the average golfer.”
Mayfair Country Club, Sanford, Fla.
Tournament (winner): 1959 Mayfair Open (Marlene Hagge).
Comment: The 1950s were the heyday at the 6,403-yard city muni, hosting the PGA Tour's “Mayfair Inn Open” several times, attracting Arnold Palmer, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Moe Norman and Ben Hogan, and the sole LPGA Tour event. Today's open layout is the result of back-to-bask hurricanes in the early 2000s that uprooted many historic oaks.
Dunedin Golf Club, Dunedin, Fla.
Tournament (winner): 1959 Golden Triangle Festival (Beverly Hanson).
Comment: This tournament was held at the club when it was the home of the PGA of America and called the PGA National Golf Club. The Donald Ross course, laid out in 1927 and restored in 2006-07, has a country-club feel.
Lincoln Park Golf Club, Oklahoma City
Tournament (winner): 1955 Oklahoma City Open (Louise Suggs)
Comment: My research hasn't turned up which city-owned municipal course the tournament was played on – the current East and West courses were called the North and South back then. The par-71 West course (6,576 yards) is slightly longer and tougher than the East (6,410 yards).
Tournament (winner): 1955 White Mountain Open (Betty Jameson).
Comment: These three courses teamed up to host the event. Although Bethlehem (5,812 yards) and Maplewood (6,167 yards) are significantly shorter and less refined than the 7,007-yard Mount Washington course, all three have ties to Donald Ross.
Delray Beach Golf Club, Delray Beach, Fla.
Tournament (winner): 1966 Louise Suggs Delray Beach Invitational (Marilynn Smith).
Comment: Donald Ross designed nine holes opening in 1926. After the course closed during World War II, a second nine was built in 1950 to stretch this city-owned muni to 6,907 yards. Many pros would eventually “hang out” at the club, practicing and playing.
Bing Maloney Golf Complex, Sacramento, Calif.
Tournament (winner): 1953 Barbara Romack Open (Betsy Rawls).
Comment: The city-owned 6,569-yard muni was designed by Michael J. McDonaugh, a longtime city employee who worked with Dr. Alister MacKenzie at Cypress Point, Pasatiempo Golf Club and the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex. McDonaugh's layout is still long enough and tough enough for low handicaps, wandering through mature trees. Beginners can have fun playing it, too, given the flat terrain without water and limited bunkering.
Ridgewood Golf Course, Parma, Ohio
Tournament (winner): 1950 Cleveland Weathervane (Babe Zaharias).
Comment: The old par-70 Ridgewood Country Club, now a city-owned muni, only measures roughly 6,074 yards from the tips, but it's still a good test. Many famous pros have walked its fairways. According to Wikipedia, the Cross Country 144 Hole Weathervane was a golf tournament on the LPGA Tour from 1950-53. The tournament consisted of four 36-hole legs -- each considered an official Tour event -- played over several weeks every year. The pro who fared the best at all the legs won the overall title.
Lawton Municipal Golf Course, Lawton, Okla.
Tournament (winner): 1956 Lawton Open (Betty Dodd).
Comment: This family-run 7,100-yard course is leased from the Lawton Metropolitan Area Airport Authority. Nicholas McConnell, the assistant superintendent whose family runs the course, says the dirt fairways he inherited four years ago are now 99 percent Bermuda. Three holes on the back nine interact with a nearby creek.
Normandy Shores Golf Club, Miami Beach, Fla.
Tournament (winner): 1952 Miami Weathervane (Babe Zaharias).
Comment: This city muni has seen many famous golfers (Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, etc.) stride up its fairways since 1941. A $9 million renovation by Arthur Hills in 2008 gave Normandy Shores a new lease on life.
Ocean course at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Tournament (winner): 1951 Ponte Vedra Beach Women's Open (Babe Zaharias).
Comment: The 6,811-yard Ocean course dates to 1928 (designed by Herbert Bertram Strong) but it has been tinkered with by Robert Trent Jones Sr. (1947) and Bobby Weed (1998). It was actually scheduled to host a Ryder Cup until World War II cancelled the event. Plenty of sand (99 bunkers) and water keep players on guard.
Resort course at Boca Raton Resort & Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, Boca Raton, Fla.
Tournament (winner): 1953 Boca Raton Weathervane (Beverly Hanson).
Comment: The course, which was called the Club Course years ago, was refreshed in 2016 with a renovation featuring reconstructed TifEagle greens, a new putting practice green added behind the clubhouse, and larger tees to accommodate increased rounds. The rest of the course was re-grassed with Celebration Bermuda. Bunkers were reshaped or removed, and new ones added to improve aesthetics. The streams and waterfalls give it a pleasant resort feel.
North course at Indian Canyons Golf Resort, Palm Springs, Calif.
Tournament (winner): 1968 Canyon Ladies Classic (Kathy Whitworth).
Comment: The old Canyon Country Club was private when the tournament was held on the 6,943-yard North course designed by William F. Bell. Of the six water hazards on the layout, the lake between the ninth and 18th hole is most famous for its Disney fountain that shoots water 100 feet into the air.
Southern Pines Golf Club, Pinehurst, N.C.
Tournament (winner): 1951 Sandhills Women's Open (Patty Berg).
Comment: This 6,268-yard Donald Ross gets overshadowed by the competition, but it's a treat to play. Golf Advisor user "Robert5074283" gave it five stars, writing: "This is a great course in great shape. Elevation changes and undulating fast greens make this course challenging to all golfers. Great halfway house! We would definitely return."
Major one-hit wonders
Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, Miss.
Tournament (winner): 1999 U.S. Women's Open (Juli Inkster).
Comment: This 7,088-yard Jerry Pate/Bob Cupp design is a classic private club available through stay and plays on property. The back nine winds around Lake Waverly. The new Mossy Oak is a Gil Hanse design across the street that will make this rural outpost a popular 36-hole getaway.
The Dunes Golf and Beach Club, Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Tournament (winner): 1962 U.S. Women's Open (Murle Lindstrom).
Comment: Both RTJ Sr. and his son, Rees Jones, have tinkered with the tough, brawny layout over the years. The best run of holes starts at the par-3 ninth, which offers up a glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean. After the challenging par-4 10th, Alligator Alley runs through holes 11-13. The par-5 13th wraps around Lake Singleton, finishing at the most severe green on the course.
Championship Links at Carnoustie Golf Links, Carnoustie, Scotland
Tournament (winner): 2011 RICOH Women's British Open (Yani Tseng).
Comment: The links they call "Carnasty" was actually pretty tame for the ladies as Tseng shot 16-under in a runaway win. This fearsome links will host its eighth Open Championship in 2018.
Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Wirral, England
Tournament (winner): 2012 RICOH Women's British Open (Jiyai Shin).
Comment: The club called "Hoylake" has hosted 12 Open Championships, so the ladies were thrilled to get their shot in 2012. The four-hole stretch starting at the ninth plays along England's "golf coast."
The Links at Fancourt, George, South Africa
Tournaments: 2005 Women's World Cup of Golf (Japan's Ai Miyazato/Rui Kitada).
Comment: This walkers-only paradise, a Gary Player design that hosted the 2003 Presidents Cup, might be the best course I've ever played. It's simply mesmerizing. The wet weather in South Africa's "Garden Route" doesn't stop the turf from being crisp and bouncy like a links. There's more water than there should be for a faux links but it all works.
Championship Old Course at Marriott St. Pierre Hotel & Country Club, Chepstow, Wales
Tournament (winner): 1996 Solheim Cup (U.S. wins, 17-11).
Comment: The original Ken Cotton design from 1961 received an upgrade in 2008. It roams around an 11-acre lake with fairways lined by towering trees, including a 400-year-old chestnut on the second hole. The signature moment is the tee shot over water on the 236-yard par-3 18th.
Killeen Castle, County Meath, Ireland
Tournament (winner): 2011 The Solheim Cup (Europe wins 15-13).
Comment: This Jack Nicklaus parkland course, which opened in 2009 just outside Dublin, looked and played fabulous during the 2011 Solheim Cup won dramatically by the Europeans. The sheer majesty and mystique of the 12th-century Killeen Castle hovering over the property helps Killeen Castle golf course stand out.
South course at Angus Glen Golf Club, Ontario, Canada
Tournament (winner): 2001 Bank of Montreal Canadian Women's Open (Annika Sorenstam).
Comment: Host of the 2002 Canadian Open, the south course re-opened in 2015 after a six-million-dollar renovation by the firm of MacKenzie & Ebert. It's a target course with lots of water and cross hazards.
Glen Arbour Golf Course, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Tournament (winner): 2005 BMO Financial Group Canadian Women's Open (Meena Lee).
Comment: This scenic Graham Cooke design hosted the inaugural Wayne Gretzky and Friends Invitational in 2000 and a 2012 Telus Skins Game.
Greenbrier course at The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.
Tournament (winner): 1994 The Solheim Cup (U.S. wins 13-7).
Comment: This original Seth Raynor course, the only one to host both the Ryder Cup (1979) and Solheim Cup, was damaged by the floods of 2016. Phil Mickelson is tasked to rebuild and renovate the course, which could open in the spring of 2018.
Pinehurst No. 2, Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst, N.C.
Tournament (winner): 2014 U.S. Women's Open (Michelle Wie).
Comment: The world's most famous Donald Ross course was showcased for two straight weeks when the men's U.S. Open and Women's U.S. Open were held back-to-back weeks. The restoration by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw has revived this masterpiece with vexing greens.
CordeValle, San Martin, Calif.
Tournament (winner): 2016 U.S. Women's Open (Brittany Lang).
Comment: This glorious RTJ Jr. playground -- only accessible with a stay and play at the luxurious Rosewood hotel -- hosted the 2010-2013 PGA Tour Frys.com Open. The routing flows through a picturesque pastoral valley, featuring 150 feet of elevation change with no homes in sight.