The Capital Region has embraced the Epson Tour, formerly known as the Futures Tour, Duramed Futures Tour and Symetra Tour, for over 35 years. The “Road to the LPGA Tour” has helped develop local stars like Dottie Pepper and Laura Diaz, and has also given valuable experience to our best young players over the years, including Kerri Murphy, Tiffany Maurycy, Betsy Drambour and Madison. Braman, just to name a few.

Last year, the local stop, now called the Twin Bridges Championship, granted a sponsor exemption to Albany Academy phenom Kennedy Swedick, who is back for this year’s event – scheduled for Friday See you next Sunday at Pinehaven Country Club – after proving she can compete with the pros.

Our local connection helped launch the professional careers of Pepper and Diaz.

Pepper hails from Saratoga Springs and has won two majors on the LPGA Tour among his 17 victories there and 25 around the world. She stunned the local golf world when she won the local leg of the 1985 Futures Tour at Town of Colonie Golf Course as an amateur.

“Winning on the then Futures Tour as an amateur reinforced that I could compete and ultimately win at the next level,” said Pepper, a member of the New York State Golf Association and New York State Golf Halls of Fame. ‘Furman University.

“It was also a reinforcement of how hard it is to be a professional and the 24/7 commitment it takes, validating my backup plan in a four-year college degree in case things don’t go well. wouldn’t go exactly as planned in professional golf,” she added.

Pepper, now an extremely talented golf TV host and writer on CBS, was recently honored by the Metropolitan Golf Association for her many contributions to the game. She was a multiple NYS Girls’ Amateur winner as a youngster and also won the Women’s Amateur Gazette.

Diaz, who hails from Scotland and is the daughter of former Capital Region NENY PGA club pro Ron Philo, has also become a national hit following a stellar college career at Wake Forest. She has won three times on the Futures Tour and twice on the LPGA Tour.

“The Futures Tour was a fantastic stepping stone for me to the LPGA Tour,” said Diaz, whose first major tournament was the Gazette Women’s Amateur at age 12. “I combined it with the European tour and together I had the opportunity to continue working and developing my game. My time on these tours prepared me for the LPGA Tour, and I’m very grateful for this opportunity,” she added.

Adding to the local flavor is the fact that tour co-founder Eloise Trainor from West Lebanon actually started the Futures Tour as the Tampa Bay Mini Tour in 1981. It went national and became the Futures Tour in 1983.

The Capital Region hosted Epson Tour events at Colonie City Golf Course, Western Turnpike, Orchard Creek Golf Course and Capital Hills before moving to Pinehaven last year.

The role of the Epson Tour in the development of LPGA Tour players is unmatched. More than 600 Epson Tour alumni are members of the LPGA Tour, and they have won nearly 450 LPGA Tour victories. Some of the best-known Epson Tour graduates include 2016 Olympic gold medalist and multiple major champion Inbee Park, 2014 RICOH Women’s British Open champion Mo Martin, LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame member Karrie Webb and d other stars like Stacy Lewis, Ryann O’Toole, Vicky Hurst, Christie Kerr, Angela Stanford, Christina Kim, Rosie Jones, Laura Davies and Alilson Nichols. Hurst is currently back competing on the Epson Tour.

These days, Epson Tour members are vying for more than $4 million in prizes. The top 10 players on the Epson Tour money list each year earn automatic playing cards on the LPGA Tour the following season.


Along with amateur sensation Swedick, who won the inaugural New York Public High School Athletic Association women’s championship last month at McGregor Links, there’s a huge and talented international field for this year’s event.

The Epson Tour Player of the Year is 19-year-old American Lucy Li, who has one win and 5 top-10 finishes this season, along with $77,241 in earnings.

Linnea Strom, 25, from Sweden, has one win this year and two overall. She earned $51,275 this season and has career earnings of $121,960 and seven top-10 finishes.

Kum-Kang Park, 21, of Korea, has one win this season and two overall. She earned $50,768 this season and has career earnings of $105,427.

Grace Kim of Australia, 21, earned her only career victory this season and earned $50,744

American rookie Alexa Pano, just 17, earned $47,043 this season with three top-10 finishes.

Defending champion Lilia Vu has graduated for the LPGA Tour.

Hurst once won three consecutive Epson Tour tournaments.

The total purse is $200,000, with over $25,000 awarded to the winner.


Speaking of Swedick, she was the only woman qualified for the 73rd United States Junior Women’s Amateur Championship after going 73-2 over par in qualifying at Teugega CC in Rome last week. She birdied on four of her last six holes to win by three strokes. This is the second year in a row that 15-year-old Swedick has earned a spot in the US Girls’ Junior Amateur, which will be held at The Club at Olde Stone in Bowling Green, Kentucky, from July 18-23.

The Colonie Golf & Country Club hosts the New York State Local Men’s Amateur Qualifier on Tuesday. There are 80 entries in the running for 13 places.

Meanwhile, on the same day at the same course, local qualifying for the NYS Junior Boys and Girls Amateur Championships will take place. The tournament itself will take place on July 26-27 at Soaring Eagles. There is a $25 fee to qualify and a $150 entry fee for the 36-hole stroke play championship.

The Hales Mills Country Club 2-Person Dash for the Cash Tournament will take place on July 30 with a 12:30 p.m. start. The format will be nine best-ball holes and nine scrambling holes. There will be gross and net prizes, but teams cannot win both. All players must have an established GHIN Handicap Index. The first prize will be $500. The entry fee is $150 per team and includes hot dogs and burgers on the lap. Call 518-736-4622 for more information.

The McGregor Links Invitational is scheduled for July 29-30. There will be three scratch divisions and will be limited to the first 54 teams that register. Entry fee is $350 per team and includes golf, cart and prize money. The Championship Division will play from the Gold Markers, the Senior Division will play from the White Tees and the Legends Division will play from the White/Green Tees. The first prize will be $900 for all three divisions. For more information, contact Michael Decker, Chief Pro of McGregor Links CC, at 518-584-6664 or [email protected]

McGregor Links CC is also hosting the 92nd NYS Women’s Amateur and Mid-Amateur on July 11-12. The first day will feature 36 holes for the women’s amateur division but only 18 holes for the women’s mid-amateur division.

Town of Colonie GC’s Noel Gebauer and NENY PGA Tournament Operations Manager Christian Torres will play 100 holes in hopes of raising money for veterans and their families to learn the game of golf at no cost. They will play a game on Friday. To donate, go to

Canajoharie G&CC will host the third annual Ladies Invitational on July 11th. The entry fee will be $150 per team of two and includes golf, cart, continental breakfast, buffet lunch and cash prizes. There is a limit of 36 teams. Make checks payable to Canajoharie Women’s Golf Committee and mail to Canajoharie Women’s Golf Committee c/o Betsy Baker 131 Walnut St. Canajoharie NY 13317.

The Schenectady Municipal Golf Course will host the 14th Annual Schenectady City School District Athletic Hall of Fame Golf Tournament on September 18. The format will be a modified four-person race. The registration fee is $420 per foursome and includes golf, cart, buffet and prizes. This event is named after SCSD Hall of Famer Pete Famiano. Call Bob Pezzano at 518-346-9297 for more information.

Briar Creek Golf Course will host the Coors Light Tournament on July 15. Admission is $75 and includes golf, continental breakfast, round lunch, and a post-golf grill buffet. Contact the pro shop Briar Creek (518-355-6145) to reserve your foursome.

The second annual 9 & Dine Golf Scramble, benefiting To Love a Child, Inc., will take place July 22 at the Fairways of Halfmoon Golf Club. Registration will take place at 3:15 p.m., followed by a departure at 4 p.m. Admission is $85 and includes 9 holes of golf with cart, prizes, Italian buffet dinner and cocktail. There will also be a themed basket auction and 50/50 raffle. For more information, contact To Love a Child, PO Box 165, Clifton Park, NY 12065 or call 518-859-4424. Proceeds will go to Food Forests & Clean Water in Zimbabwe and Thyme to Thrive Educational Programs in the capital region.

The Schenectady Municipal Golf Course is the site of the Schenectady High School Football Golf Tournament Saturday at 9 a.m. golf divot/marker shirt and tool. Contact Schenectady High head coach Carmen DePoalo at 518-495-6555 for more information.


At the Country Club of Troy, Tim Nimmons hit the 167-yard eighth hole with an 8-iron in the 79th Invitational Team Competition.

Rudy Filin used a hybrid 5 for his hole-in-one on the 160-yard ninth hole at Mill Road Acres Golf Course.


Joe Firlet used a hybrid 3 and wedge for an eagle-2 on the 328-yard par-4 sixth hole at Mechanicville Golf Club.

At the Schenectady Municipal Golf Course, Jack McDonald posted an eagle-2 on the par-4 10th hole, and Cliff Ruth and Lee Quivey both shot the par-5 12th hole.

Contact Bob Weiner at [email protected]

More from The Daily Gazette:

Categories: Sports