LET brings a unique team event to Florida’s Feather Sound

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is presenting sponsor of the Aramco Team Series.

In these times of turmoil for professional golf tours it was almost shocking to learn about the upcoming Aramco Team Series. Its first event of 2024 is coming up fast — March 7-10 at Feather Sound Country Club in Clearwater, FL.

Imagine an event that is part of the Ladies European Tour (LET) hosting an event on American soil.  Then consider that the $1 million purse is being put up by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia – the same group that is funding the controversial LIV Tour in its ongoing battle with the PGA Tour. And The Golf Channel is to provide TV coverage, a rarity for that network to cover an event with LIV connections.

PIF is the presenting sponsor of the entire series and, while best known for its LIV involvement, it also bankrolled the $5 million Aramco Saudi Ladies International, an LET event won by Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit two weeks ago in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Riyadh is the home base of the Saudi Golf Federation.

While it’s an LET event, the Aramco field at Feather Sound also includes American LPGA stars Brittany Lincicome, Lexi Thompson and Megan Khang. Aramco is a global integrated energy and chemicals company that says it is partnering with the Saudi Federation “as part of the company’s efforts in female empowerment.’’

Lincicome was featured at the tourney’s kickoff press conference. She’ll be playing in the Aramco Series for the first time on a course that is just three miles from her home.  She knows the Feather Sound layout well.

“It’s just a beautiful place.  I love going there,’’ she said.  “Just to have other Tour players see this course is going to be a real treat, because they’re going to love it.’’

Feather Sound was able to get its course ready for tournament play in a hurry. (Joy Sarver Photos)

The tourney got a late start on the promotion end because of delays in lining up a site.  Feather Sound was officially notified of its selection only five weeks ago but was still close to being ready to welcome spectators over a week before the start of play.

Feather Sound’s original course was a Joe Lee design that opened in 1976 and was renovated by Kipp Schulties in 2022.

The Aramco Series has an unusual format.  It consists of five team events with an individual competition included in each one.  There’ll be a player draft in which designated captains are determined off the Rolex World Golf Rankings. They’ll pick one teammate off the LET entry list, get another determined randomly by LET staffers and a third from amateurs chosen by Aramco personnel.

Teams and individuals will compete together over the first two rounds and only individuals will battle on the final day. The prize money will be split, with $500,000 awarded off the team competition and $500,000 off individual play. The professional field will be cut after 36 holes to the low 60 and ties.

LPGA star Brittany Lincicome, who lives near Feather Sound, was featured at Media Day.

The unusual format is no problem for Lincicome, who was recently named an assistant captain for the U.S. Solheim Cup team.

“A team component is something different,’’ she said. “We’re always evolving in the game of golf, and to have the team competition with amateurs and then going into singles – why not?’’

That Aramco Team Series is the only LET event in the United States this year, but it was held for two years in New York and Trump International, in West Palm Beach, hosted last year when Spain’s Carlota Ciganda was the champion. Ciganda will compete at Feather Sound as will England’s Bronte Law, winner of the Lalla Meryem Cup – last week’s third stop of the LET season in Morocco.

Officially named Aramco Team Series-Tampa, this year’s schedule also has events in Seoul, South Korea, May 9-11; London July 2-5, Asia Oct. 4-6 and Riyadh Oct. 31-Nov. 3. All have $1 million purses put up by PIF.

They’re all part of LET’s 46th season, one which includes 31 events held in 20 countries.

Feather Sound got all spruced up for the arrival of the LET’s unique team event.