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Symetra Tour moving local tournament from Concord to Goffstown

Laura Kueny, of Michigan, stretches out before hitting the putting green at Beaver Meadow golf course on Wednesday, July 18, 2012. Kueny is one of 150 players that have come to Concord for the ninth annual Northeast Delta Dental International golf tournament. 

(Andrea Morales/Monitor file)

Laura Kueny, of Michigan, stretches out before hitting the putting green at Beaver Meadow golf course on Wednesday, July 18, 2012. Kueny is one of 150 players that have come to Concord for the ninth annual Northeast Delta Dental International golf tournament. (Andrea Morales/Monitor file)

The Symetra Tour, a tour for aspiring professional female golfers that had stopped at Beaver Meadow Golf Course for the past nine summers, will tee off in Goffstown instead this year.

The women will play at Stonebridge Country Club in August as they angle for a coveted spot on the LPGA Tour among the top tier of female competitors in their game.

Organizer Joe Kasper, who was the co-chairman of the local tournament last year, said that deal should be finalized in the coming weeks.

“We needed to have a change,” Kasper said. “We had a wonderful experience at Beaver Meadow. We worked well with the city. (However), the LPGA had wanted to make a change in location to see if they could attract more people to the tournament and more sponsors. It costs a lot of money to put a tournament on.”

The LPGA needs to attract more sponsors from southern New Hampshire and neighboring Massachusetts, he said. The tournament barely has been keeping up with its expenses, which include a $100,000 winner’s purse on top of operating costs.

“It’s tough to get businesses in northern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire to pay for an event up in Concord,” Kasper said.

Last year, 144 female golfers played in the tournament – called the Northeast Delta Dental International – at Beaver Meadow. The Symetra Tour first came to Canterbury Woods Country Club in 2004, and every year since, Beaver Meadow has hosted the annual tournament.

Parks and Recreation Director David Gill, whose department runs the course, said the tour paid the city $27,500 to use Beaver Meadow.

“It’s going to be a loss for us,” Gill said.

But Beaver Meadow members will now have more time on the fairways, Gill said, because the course was closed to all other golfers during the six-day tournament.

“In my opinion, we had a great nine years with the Symetra tournament and with Beaver Meadow,” Gill said.

Beaver Meadow hosts golf outings and other events, he said, but no other professional tournaments of this size.

“Beaver Meadow is New Hampshire’s oldest golf course,” Gill said. “I think it’s definitely an honor to be able to host a professional golf tournament, and going forward, if an opportunity like that comes up, we would definitely be interested in that conversation.”

At-Large City Councilor Mark Coen has been involved with the local tournament since its start, and he served as Kasper’s co-chairman last year. Like other families in the Concord area, Coen said he and his wife had hosted players at their home during the tournament.

“There’s women that play on the LPGA Tour now that played at Beaver Meadow in the Symetra tournament,” Coen said.

Local sponsors such as Northeast Delta Dental needed to contribute more than they bargained for to keep the tournament alive, Coen said. So the tournament will be renamed and rebuilt in Goffstown, closer to potential sponsors in Manchester and Boston.

“It’s close to $200,000 to put this tournament on with the purse and everything that’s involved,” Coen said. “The community’s been very, very supportive for the last 10 years, but it’s been a tight, a very, very tight budget.”

The Concord course is prime for talented golfers – “Beaver Meadow’s greens are very difficult to read,” Coen said. But even with the course and the local volunteers, Concord could not attract the number of sponsors the LPGA wanted for the event, he said.

“The unfortunate thing, we had everything else in place,” Coen said. “Everything else was first-rate.”

Managers at Stonebridge and representatives from the Symetra Tour did not return requests for comment.

While the Symetra Tour won’t stop in Concord this year, Coen said many of the same host families and volunteers could still be involved. Stonebridge is a little more than 22 miles from Beaver Meadow.

“It’s definitely had an impact on Concord in a positive way,” he said. “It’s just a little bit south and west of us now.”

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

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