Changes happening on the Epson Tour you should know about — Brooke Henderson talks upcoming LPGA season
The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, Jan. 18, 2024
It is a glorious Golf Thursday—they always are—but especially today because the LPGA Tour is back in action at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions. The limited field is comprised of LPGA Tour winners from the past two seasons, along with nearly 50 celebrities for a weekend of pure fun (they don’t call it the party on tour for nothing)! And as the LPGA makes its 2024 season debut, its qualifying tour — the Epson Tour — is making a few moves of its own.
Earlier this week, the Epson Tour released its 2024 schedule along with quite a few changes. Featuring 20 official events, a news points-based system, and a few more dollars for prize payouts, here’s what you need to know about Epson this season.
The tour will tee off (pun intended) its 20-event season the week of March 8-10 with the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic in Winter Haven, Florida. But there are a few new additions to the schedule. Back in November, it was announced that the Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic would rejoin the Epson Tour schedule for the 2024 season with an increased purse and new location (more on that later). The Carlisle Arizona Women’s Classic is also making the move to TPC Scottsdale’s Champions Course, where they will be the tournament host through 2026.
Two new tournaments have been added in 2024, building the Florida stretch at the beginning of the season and the Midwest stretch immediately before the halfway point. The Atlantic Beach Classic, hosted at Atlantic Beach Country Club east of Jacksonville, will be a 54-hole stroke play tournament that will take place from March 21-23. The other is the Otter Creek Golf Course in Columbus, Indiana, which will take place from June 14-16.
But wait, there’s more! The 2024 season will conclude in a new location than years past, with the Epson Tour Championship moving from Daytona Beach, Florida to Indian Wells, California. The Championship will remain a 72-hole stroke play format with a $250,000 purse and be played from October 3-6 on the Players Course at Indian Wells Golf Resort.
See the full Epson Tour schedule here.
Following in the LPGA’s footsteps, the Epson Tour is acquiring more partners resulting in more money for purses. The Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic, mentioned previously, will be the largest in Epson Tour history at $400,000 with the winner taking home $60,000.
For reference, in 2013, the tour had 15 tournaments with $1.60 million in total purses which averages out to $108,000/purse, and $150,000 was the highest purse.
In 2017, the tour expanded to 22 tournaments nearly doubling its total purse amount to $2.95 million, making the average purse increase to $134,000, and the highest purse being $210,000.
Now flash-forward to the present day, Epson has managed to shorten the season to 20 total events that amount to $5 million in total purses, making the average purse amount $250,000; with $400,000 being the highest purse.
The New Points System
Another important note of change for the Epson tour is the new points system. In years past, the tour functioned under a money-based ranking and is now transitioning to a points-based ranking to determine which athletes will receive LPGA Tour Cards in 2025. It will follow a similar structure to the LPGA Tour, the season-long Race for the Card will see Epson Tour Members compete for points in each official Epson Tour Tournament, with a 30% increased Points value for the Epson Tour Championship. For a breakdown of the Race for the Card Point System, click here.
Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan believes that all of these things are steps in the right direction. “We’re proud of the progress we have made to the growth of the Epson Tour and can’t wait to watch these incredible athletes tee it up throughout the record-breaking 2024 season. The transition to a points-based system in the Race for the Card reflects our commitment to identifying and elevating the next generation of LPGA stars. As the Tour continues to grow in prize money and depth of talent, we believe this change will add an exciting dimension to the competition and will give every Epson Tour athlete a balanced opportunity throughout the season to earn their place on the LPGA Tour.”
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Five at The IX: Brooke Henderson defends this week at the HGVLPGA
Q: All right, here inside the media center with Brooke Henderson. I know a lot of people want to ask about your excitement. Welcome back to the defending champion. What’s it like to be back at this tournament?
BROOKE HENDERSON: I love this event. It’s so fun and unique to be able to play with the celebrities. I look forward to it every year. To come back this year and be defending champion it’s definitely different and a cool feel. I’m excited to tee it up on Thursday.
Q. Can you talk about the goals you set for yourself on the upcoming LPGA Tour?
BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, you know, winning this event last year was a huge boost to my confidence. I’ve always wanted to win at this event, so that was really big.
Then the rest of the year I maybe didn’t play quite as well as I would’ve liked, so coming into 2024 I’m excited to get it started again. Hopefully lower my scoring average a little bit, which will hopefully put me in contention more times throughout the year on the weekend.
That’s all you really want, is an opportunity to win or an opportunity to be great.
Q. I know it’s a really short off-season, but what were you fine tuning mentally and physically as you looked ahead to ’24?
BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, I put in some new irons late last fall, so I really love them a lot, so just continuing to work, being a little bit more consistent with the iron play. But they’ve made a big difference in my game. I also changed my fairway woods and driver as well. And putter.
So it’s been a really big change the last two months. All very positive and I feel like they’re really going to enhance my game. Hopefully I can start off putting them to good use this week and throughout the rest of the season.
Q. What mentally goes into having a fresh bag now, brand new bag? Having to switch everything out, what goes into that mentally?
BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, the stuff they came out with is just so good it was really easy, quick change. I love being a part of team TaylorMade. It’s been a great change for me. Being alongside other amazing athletes has been pretty cool.
I feel like my game is in a pretty good spot right now, new equipment and new season, so there is a lot of positives. Hopefully we’ll see some positive change when I tee it up on Thursday.
Q. You mentioned to me before and alluded to it, that whole bunch of new clubs. I know you’re particularly excited about your driver. What is it about that that you like?
BROOKE HENDERSON: So I did a shoot with TaylorMade in November I guess. I hadn’t hit the driver and I had to use it that day for some photos. I used it on the range and I was like, wow, I love this, so it went immediately into my bag.
It’s been such a great change and gained a little bit of distance and feel like I’m hitting it a lot straighter which gives me a lot of confidence moving forward.
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