Originally created 06/08/01

LPGA event will admit area children for free



The LPGA Tour's newest tournament is doing its part to attract the sport's youngest fans, and a paying adult.

The Asahi Ryokuken International Championship, scheduled for Sept. 20-23 at Mount Vintage Plantation Golf Club, will be giving away more than 50,000 tickets to area children under the age of 15. Ten thousand tickets have been set aside for Richmond and Columbia counties.

Tournament Chairman Bettis C. Rainsford presented tickets to Augusta Mayor Bob Young and Stacie Adkins from the Columbia County Recreation Department on Thursday in the Augusta-Richmond County commission chambers.

There will be a similar presentation Wednesday at Mount Vintage for Aiken and Edgefield counties.

"The LPGA tournaments are family events," Young said. "This will give many children the chance to attend with their parents and learn more about golf."

Young said tickets will be distributed through school systems and recreation departments in Richmond and Columbia counties.

The tickets are a part of the "Kids Free" policy that the LPGA established in 1999. Children 15 and under get in free with a paying adult.

The Asahi Ryokuken is the only tournament to use promotional tickets. Children who do not receive a ticket will still be able to attend for free with a paying adult.

VIP pavilion badges cost $150, with the VIP clubhouse badges priced at $1,000. General admission ticket information has not been released yet.

"We hope this will encourage area youth to get involved in the sport that made Augusta famous," Rainsford said. "We also hope that a few of those kids out there will bring Mommy and Daddy with them."

One local youth hoping to take her mother is Sarah Moody, who was practicing her bunker shots at the First Tee Augusta golf course on Thursday. The 14-year-old, whose favorite golfer is top-ranked Annika Sorenstam, said she can't wait for the tournament to start.

Ray Avret of Augusta sees the tournament as a great opportunity for his 9-year-old daughter.

"I would like to take her and let her see women play golf," Avret said. "If she can get in free, I would love to take her."

Reach Louie Villalobos at (706) 823-3425.