One of the absolute best things about toiling as one of two intrepid bloggers reporting on all things travel- and tourism-related regarding the world-class city of Rancho Mirage is “media access.” Daily, my pal Potter and I are, of course, on the lookout for any new sights, sounds, tastes, and all other manner of sensory experience so as to bring them all to the attention of our voracious readers, who appreciate our tips and tidbits. But we’re also incessantly invited my powers-that-be to happenings of all sorts, be they film fest premieres, new eatery unveilings, or other stellar events connected to upcoming attractions.
Thus was I invited by none other than tournament director Gabe Codding himself to the Mission Hills Country Club press conference that a few weeks ago kicked off the anticipation for this year’s Kraft Nabisco Championship in earnest. I made sure to get there bright and early to ensure I could secure a front row seat. Naturally, handsome Gabe was on hand to introduce the press conference players, but the player I was most interested to see and hear was a “player” in the championship sense. Yes, none other than Inbee Park was there in the flesh—she who last year was the one to win the first LPGA major of the year, thereby earning the right to jump foot-first into Poppie’s Pond.
As Gabe and Inbee made clear, this year’s tournament is going to be bigger and brighter than ever. As the signature event of Rancho Mirage, the 43rd iteration of the lady golf extravaganza will benefit from the service of more than 800 volunteers to roll out the red carpet for 115 of the world’s top women in the sport between April 1 and 6 at Mission Hills. Some 32 past champions will be in attendance, as will some of the most stunningly promising amateurs from around the globe.
Of course, Inbee will herself be defending her crown. It’ll be hard for the 25-year-old to beat her 2013 performance—three consecutive major championships and six LPGA titles—but she’s vowed to pour her heart into it. When one of the assembled reporters asked Inbee (since April 2013 the number one ranked player in the Women’s World Golf Rankings) to comment on her experiences in Rancho Mirage, the diminutive powerhouse, who is engaged to be married in September, said she’d spent a lot of time in Southern California, specifically in the Coachella Valley and at Mission Hills Country Club, during the last few seasons. “I like the look and the feel of the golf course,” she said. “I love the time of year. It’s the first major [on the calendar], so everyone is very energetic and excited. This is like a second home to me.”
I’ll be there cheering Inbee and her competitors on come April 1, and that’s no fool’s day folly of a promise. Hope to see you there, too, for one of the highlights of our city’s championship season.