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The Kingsmill Championship, which has developed a stellar reputation among LPGA players thanks in part to its hospitality, amenities and course layout, has become a prime event for spectators.
With 11 of the world’s top 12 women golfers competing at this year’s Kingsmill Championship, it will come as no surprise to learn spectators from local and afar descend upon Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg to watch top talent compete.
Such was the case for Bill and John Wright, a father and son from Gloucester, who decided to attend the tournament for the first time after watching the LPGA on television. For the Wrights, watching the world's top golfers play in their backyard was a no-brainier.
Their story was a similar one among the spectators that filled the resort. Whether for one day or all four rounds, the Kingsmill Championship has proven to be a popular family atmosphere thanks to a wide variety of food, drinks, merchandise and games for younger fans.
From elders to infants, people of different sexes and races could be found roaming the cart paths during the opening round of the Kingsmill Championship on Thursday.
Carley Rudolph, a 13-year-old golfer from Virginia Beach, joked she hopes to compete on the course in five years once she turns 18. Rudolph was watching the action unfold with her grandfather, Bruce Warren, from underneath a tree on the ninth hole.
For the past two years, Rudolph and her grandfather, Bruce, have made the trip to Kingsmill Resort and have used the time on the course as a good chance to bond.
“We just like to watch the good players and see the swings that they have,” Rudolph said.
With concession stands and bathrooms scattered around the golf course, as well as beautiful scenery, it's easy to see why the Kingsmill Championship draws so many spectators. The only complaint about the course is the steepness of some rolling hills, which have been known to give older tournament goers some issues.
During the opening round of the Kingsmill Championship, viewers that lined the fairways were not limited to the area, or even the state. People from as far south as Florida and as far north as Boston made the trip to Williamsburg to soak in the scenery.
To some, taking in the scenery of the golf course is more important than visiting some of the popular tourist destination in the surrounding area.
Tim and Heidi De Vries, a husband and wife from Chattanooga, Tenn., said the local attractions of the Historic Triangle played no factor when deciding to come to the tournament for a third time. Instead, the couple made the trip to support a tournament that is well-liked among LPGA golfers.
“The thing I like about this course is that the girls like this course,” Heidi De Vries said. “This way you get to see all of the top girls, and you don’t miss out on any like some other tournaments.”
For others like James Briggs, a first-time visitor from Washington, D.C., the surrounding attractions were more incentive for him and his family to make the trip. An avid golf fan, Briggs learned more about the tournament after seeing it on the television and decided this was a good year to see the tournament for himself.
“I’m a golfer so I saw it advertised everywhere,” he said. “We’ve been here since Sunday and we did some sightseeing before the tournament began.”
Despite the different motivations for attending the tournament, one thing remained constant: The appreciation for the Kingsmill Championship’s ability to bring top-flight golfers together at the same tournament.
“It’s kind of nice when you can stand that close and see [top players] hit the ball,” Bill Wright said. “These girls play extremely well so it’s going to be a nice weekend.”