Wednesday evening, 36 additional lockers were installed at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club in advance of Thursday’s first round. An official with Hilton Grand Vacations said that this would ensure that every female—both LPGA players and celebrity players—will have her own locker.
Past LPGA winners arrived at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club for this week’s Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions to find a less than ideal setup.
According to Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols, players were told that no private locker rooms were available for their use at the LPGA’s season opener.
Hilton Grand Vacations VP of Sports Marketing, Aaron Stewart, explained that a plan to provide temporary lockers for the week fell through. Players have access to the women’s bathrooms and showers, but there is no storage available for the 29 golfers competing in the event.
“I don’t know why they canceled the lockers,” Stewart said to Golfweek.
LPGA host venues usually offer the men’s locker room facilities to the field for the week, but a tour official said that at Lake Nona, the men’s locker room had to be available for restroom use. The HGV Tournament of Champions is a pro-am event that brings together winners from the past two LPGA seasons and celebrities.
“I’m not mad at the club, I’m not mad at the sponsor, I’m annoyed at the LPGA for that just being an overlooked factor,” said Ryan O’Toole, a four-time LPGA Tour winner who is teeing it up this week.
When asked for comment on the locker room set-up at Lake Nona, the LPGA provided the following statement.
“Hilton Grand Vacations has been an incredible partner in supporting the LPGA to expand and enhance amenities and accommodations for our players. With the return of hospitality this year, the tournament informed us that due to a need for public bathrooms, there would not be a private and secure locker room available for the LPGA players this week. There was an option presented to have temporary lockers added to a space within the clubhouse that did not include a bathroom area,” the statement read.
“Due to a prioritization of space for other player uses, our tournament team made the decision that it was not in the best interest of the players and the event to pursue that option. Players have access to a locker room, although the space is not entirely private. We are always open to player feedback and work with our tournament partners to allocate finite space. We will continue to do so with our amazing partners from Hilton Grand Vacations moving forward,” the statement continued.
The group of 29 in the Tournament of Champions field also includes defending champion Danielle Kang, world No. 2 Nelly Korda and her sister Jessica Korda, who won the event in 2021.
Jessica Korda chimed in on Twitter, noting that the field didn’t have access to lockers in 2022 either, but during previous years they did. The lack of locker room availability in 2022 was not due to COVID-19 protocols.
“We didn’t have lockers last year either,” Jessica wrote. “But we did have lockers year prior at TOC. Important to clarify and have all facts so people don’t think it’s just this year.”
Another issue with the tournament’s setup involved practice facility restrictions. Players were told that for practice rounds on Sunday, Jan. 15, they would not be permitted to use the practice areas more than one hour prior to their designated tee time. There was originally confusion among players that this rule applies to each day of the tournament, but it was later clarified as a restriction only for Sunday’s practice round.
“The guys would never agree to an hour of practice each day,” said Matilda Castren, another LPGA player in the field this week.