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A new club event – billed as the first of its kind – will reach golf pros and the champions of ladies clubs.

The Country Club is launching the Pro + Ladies Invitational, the first event to pair club pros and ladies club champions. A 36-hole tournament is planned for April, drawing players from California and Nevada.

“It’s never been done before; it’s always been the men’s club champion,” Ron Svien, the club’s general manager, said of past pairings tournaments. He called it a reaction to women reaching positions of power in society and business. “This (tournament) is an empowerment thing too,” he said. 

Mike Martel, the Country Club president, said the idea has been kicking around the club for about a year. He said he first heard about it from Don Thames, the club’s golf pro. Martel said he asked Thames to give the club a little time to find its financial feet and hire a general manager and then they would work on the idea.

Martel said the club made a modest profit last year and is on the upswing, trying to make itself friendly to women and families – and he likes what an event like this says about the club and, by extension, all of Rancho Murieta.

“We’re in a positive mode. I’m not hearing a whole lot of negatives from the membership,” he said of the club’s situation today. “All the events we’re putting on for members – there’s 70 people for line dancing, 150 people for bingo.... 

“This is one of the ideas that we came up with,” he said, tipping his cap to the Murieta Inn and Spa, a partner in the event, and Svien for tending to the details.

Svien called 2019 a “stepping stone to the future.” He said he has told the Professional Golfers’ Association that he thinks the idea is much larger than just California and Nevada; it could be global, he said.

The tournament, with honorary co-chairs Patty Sheehan (an LPGA Hall of Famer) and Susie Maxwell Berning (winner of 11 LPGA tournaments), will be played on the North Course. The schedule calls for a skins game for participants on Sunday, April 14, followed by competitive rounds the next two days. There’s a $10,000 purse planned for the professionals along with $6,000 in merchandise tee prizes and $6,000 in merchandise awards for the club champions. There will be net and gross divisions.

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