The Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first major of the golf season, may assume another in a long list of names after next year, but LPGA commissioner Michael Whan pledges the iconic tourney will remain at Mission Hills Country Club.
"I would say that the tournament and the tradition of the course and jumping into Poppie's Pond is one of the great traditions not just in the LPGA but in all of golf," Whan told The Desert Sun on Tuesday. "We are not going to lose that while I am commissioner."
Kraft’s most recent five-year contract as title sponsor will expire after the 2014 contest and company executives have offered no guarantee they will be involved beyond next year. Should Kraft pull out, it would not be the first time the competition -- which will always be the Dinah Shore to old diehards -- has undergone a name change.
Launched in 1972, the event was first called the Colgate Dinah Shore Winner’s Circle, shortened to Colgate-Dinah Shore in 1981. RJR Nabisco took over in 1982, naming the event the Nabisco Dinah Shore Invitational, again shortened to Nabisco Dinah Shore between 1983 to 1999, and the Nabisco Championship from 2000 to 2001. The parent company, Kraft Nabisco, took the reins in 2002 and it has been the Kraft Nabisco Championship since.
While Whan would obviously prefer to continue the Kraft tradition, he said the tourney will stay put as long as he’s in charge.
"The LPGA, women's golf, has a pole in the ground called the Kraft or the Dinah Shore, whatever the name," Whan said. "Keeping our first major of the year at Mission Hills, the jump into Poppie's Pond...we have to keep that tradition. We don't have that many."