Tournament officials bring in 36 lockers for female players at LPGA season-opener, though the locker room remains open to VIPs

Thirty-six temporary lockers arrived at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club on Wednesday afternoon for LPGA players to use at the Hilton Grand Vacation Tournament of Champions. Prior to that, there were no lockers available for female players in the event – both the 29 pros and four celebrities. Male celebrities in the field utilize the men’s locker room.

The new temporary lockers will be located in the club’s women’s locker room, which is located on the first level of the clubhouse along with the men’s locker room. Both areas – which include the only available showers – are also open to tournament hospitality and VIPs.

A recent storm damaged the permanent lockers that are usually in place in the women’s locker room at Lake Nona. The tournament planned to order temporary lockers to place on the second level of the clubhouse next to player dining, though that area did not include bathrooms. LPGA officials canceled the lockers on Jan. 11, citing in a statement that the tournament team opted not to pursue that option due to a prioritization of that space for other player uses.

There was no player-only locker room at last year’s TOC.

Annika Sorenstam has lived at Lake Nona for decades and is once again competing in this week’s event as a celebrity.

“It’s unfortunate that that story is kind of being discussed,” said Sorenstam, when asked about the locker room situation Wednesday morning. “I just want to focus on the game, and hopefully they can sort all the logistics out and we can focus on what’s important.”

Nelly Korda also downplayed the situation.

“Honestly, I’ve played this tournament I think from the start. Not 100 percent sure. We have never had lockers,” said Korda. “To me this event is so unique in the sense where that stuff doesn’t really bother me. You’re out here competing with different celebrities, former athletes, current athletes. … Obviously if it would be at a regular LPGA event it would bother me. At this event I think there are so many different, unique, cool stories that, as I said, it just ­– I didn’t even think twice about it.

As long as I have a gym to warmup in, a range, I’m very happy.”

Matilda Castren, who in 2021 became the first Finnish player to win on the LPGA, called for the tour to have a “certain standard” at each event. Ryann O’Toole put the onus on the LPGA to have a secure, player-only locker room each week.

“I put an emphasis on our tour as taking care of that for us,” said O’Toole. “The pressure should be on the tour and I don’t think anybody else.”

List

A dozen LPGA rookies to watch in 2023, including a couple of former American prodigies, a Division II college star and a 10-time winner from Japan

Yuna Nishimura
Yuna Nishimura

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek