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The Patriot All-America Golf Tournament opened its course to women for the first time in 11 years.

Held at the Wigwam Golf Club starting December 28, this year’s iteration will showcase the top amateur male and female golfers from across the country.

“We’re thrilled with this departure from the women,” said Dustin Roberts, a representative for the Golf Coaches Association of America. “If you are someone who loves golf, this is a great opportunity to go out and see them. People go to watch them on the weekends on the PGA Tour and the LPGA. “

The tournament produced many PGA Tour winners over its 11 years, including Brooks Koepka, Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas when the field was limited to men. This year, fans might see the upcoming Lexi Thompson or Lydia Ko.

“We’re really lucky to have some really, really good players in the bill this year,” said Robert.

“Some of the highlights are Julia Johnson, who plays Ole Miss, who is the reigning national champion in women. You have Louise Duncan, who actually goes to the University of Stirling in Scotland.

Besides Duncan and Johnson, the women’s field is expected to include several top 100 players in the world amateur golf rankings, as well as many college All-Americans.

The players include Cynthia Lu from the University of Oregon and Valery Plata from Michigan State University.

The Patriot All-America tournament is a golf tournament, turned into a public event, mimicking the Waste Management Phoenix Open, “the greatest spectacle on the lawn.”

The tournament was the idea of ​​the Arizona Golf Association and the Golf Coaches of America, in conjunction with The Wigwam and Biltmore golf courses and flourished.

“There have been conversations about a ‘bowl-like’ event for college golf,” said Sean Scibienski, a representative of the West Valley Mavericks, who sponsors the event.

“The original concept was, ‘How do we get the best amateur golfers in the world to attend an event and really have the atmosphere that they would have if they were a soccer program playing a ball game? “”

The experience of the “game of bowls” has developed. Starting as a 10ft by 10ft tent on a golf course with around 50 people, the tournament draws over 1,000 fans to experience golf, food, drink, live music and fundraising. of funds during the week.

“It’s great, great golf, an incredible party, all for a great cause in support of the military,” said Scibienski.

The tournament is more than a golf event or a public spectacle. The Patriot All-America honors those who served or died for the U.S. military and armed forces.

They work with the Folds of Honor, founded by Lt. Col. Dan Rooney. The organization offers scholarships to families of deceased and disabled military personnel.

The Patriot All-America is also bringing former soldiers to the greens, as the tournament selects players from the Veterans Golf Association to play alongside the amateurs.

“We are offering a field exemption for their national champion,” said Scibienski. “They have a series of tournaments to qualify for a national championship tournament. And the winner of this event, the male and female field winners of the open event, which is the most competitive version, get exemption in our field.

It goes a little further than that. Golfers carry a custom golf bag with the names and biographies of seriously injured or fallen soldiers.

Once the golfers have finished their round, the bags are autographed by amateur golfers and put up for auction. Profits go to Folds of Honor.

“What we like to say is, ‘This golfer is taking this soldier into his last tour of duty,’ Scibienski said.

Last year, the festivities were cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event was successfully broadcast live, and it will continue this year. The Patriot All-America will be featured on ESPN, Golf Channel and Golfweek, among others.

“We’re going to continue the live broadcast because there are a lot of parents and fans who can’t make it to Arizona at this time of year no matter how badly they want to,” Scibienski said. “We would like to give them the opportunity to see their children and see the events.

The 2021 tournament begins with the Am-Am tournament, which features amateurs playing with the country’s top young golfers. They are then offered a dinner and awarded prizes. Afterwards, the opening ceremony includes keynote speakers, a military flyby and a team of paratroopers.

After the first round, golfers visit Luke Air Force Base, where they have VIP access and witness the removal of the American flag that flew over Luke Air Force Base last year.

The winner of the tournament receives the withdrawn flag, the special jacket and the trophy.

“All the players I have spoken to who have played in this event were delighted,” said Scibienski. “They tried to come back, and it’s just a once in a lifetime experience.”

If you are going to…

WHAT: The Patriot All-America

WHEN: Various times From Tuesday December 28 to Friday December 31

OR: Wigwam Golf Club, 451 N. Old Litchfield Road, Litchfield Park

COST: Free entry; $ 100 VIP per day; $ 250 VIP for three days. VIP includes food and drinks and access to VIP tents

INFO: patriotalmerica.com