Thursday was the day many have been waiting and preparing for. It marks the first round of the inaugural Symetra Tour GreatLIFE Challenge golf tournament at Willow Run golf course.

Thursday marked the start of the 18th leg of this 23 part tour and a coveted chance for all the LPGA hopefuls to take a big step in fulfilling their dream to become a full LPGA tour member. Thursday marked the first day for those looking to acquire that coveted LPGA card granting full time LPGA member status.

Not only does the GreatLIFE Challenge tournament allow for golfers to earn their way into the LPGA but it also offers the largest purse in tour history! Winning this 72-hole tournament would award first place with a $210,000 total purse with a winners payout of $31,500. A payout like that creates opportunities for so many golfers regardless of current position.

To put that into perspective, taking into account the total prize money still available ($760,000) anyone who is currently ranked 25th or better is practically assured a Tour card for the next season with a victory here in Sioux Falls.

With so much at stake it’s safe to say that the competition for this event is beyond intense. The field for this tournament is very strong with the entire top ten on the Volvik Race for the Card money list competing. In fact, everyone in the top 30 are scheduled to play.

LPGA hopefuls will have to battle it out with a very diverse field consisting of 54 international players representing 23 countries. They will also have to take on some of the best in the game today as there are 24 current LPGA members including 2-time LPGA winner Jimin Kang also competing for first place.

Willow Run golf course has proven to be a unique and interesting hidden gem with a full slate of challenges. Symetra Tour Chief Business Officer Mike Nicholes talked about the challenges of the course as being “a combination of both putting and accurate tee shots.”

The golfers themselves have come to discover those challenges for themselves. LPGA hopeful Jessy Tang talked about the drastic changes in elevation as a unique challenge to the golfers that forces them to place their shots well.

It is indeed a very exciting and competitive tournament that brings about a variety of firsts to South Dakota. One can almost think of the largest purse in tour history as proper payment for the time it’s taken for the LPGA to hit South Dakota.

Never the less, the LPGA and the Symetra Tour has made a very impactful first appearance in South Dakota and it couldn’t have been at a better course. Hitting greens in regulation and consistent putting seems to be the two most important keys to being successful in this tournament which should fair Celine Herbin (.753 greens in regulation) and Dottie Ardina (29.191 putting average) or even number one ranked Lee Lopez who sits in the top ten in ten key statistical categories.

With so much excitement surrounding day one of this tournament, you can bet that the rest of the tournament will bring even more action packed golf to the Sioux Empire. It’s a big event that’s sure to bring fun to all types of golfers so come on down to the Willow Run Golf course and enjoy the GreatLIFE Challenge. There’s much to see with a lot to learn.