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Harder Hall tradition continues with the Citrus Golf Trail Invite
The island finishing hole at Sun 'N Lake Golf Club
The island finishing hole at Sun 'N Lake Golf Club

Few women's amateur tournaments can match the history of the Harder Hall Invitational. First played in 1956, the championship welcomed the best players in women's amateur golf to the little town of Sebring for a week of competition and a warm embrace from the south-central Florida community.

The list of past champions reflects the stature of the event, and includes the current world #1 Nelly Korda; Hall-of-Famer Joanne Carner; LPGA stars Christie Kerr, Brittany Lincicome, Morgan Pressel, Stacy Lewis and Charley Hull; amateur legends Carol Semple Thompson and Meghan Stasi; and two members of the winning 2021 Curtis Cup Team, Emilia Migliaccio and Gina Kim.

Last year, the 66th playing of the championship, Kim, a junior at Duke University, went wire-to-wire for a one-shot victory. But the bigger news occurred a few months later, when the reality set in that the host club, the Harder Hall Country Club, would be closing permanently and part of the property sold to a housing development.

With the tournament stripped of its home and its future in doubt, the community quickly decided that it had invested too much to see the tournament simply go away. And so, with an effort spearheaded by three entities -- the Citrus Golf Trail, Visit Sebring, and Airstream Adventures -- the tournament continues this winter as the Citrus Golf Trail Ladies Invitational.

"This event has so much history and such strong ties to the community that everyone has come together to make this new vision a reality," said Casey Hartt of Visit Sebring.



The Citrus Golf Trail is a diverse collection of Sebring-area courses that will each serve as tournament host on a rotating basis. The 2021 championship will be played at the Deer Run Course at Sun N' Lake Golf Club, followed by River Greens Golf Club (2023), Pinecrest Golf Club (2024), Sebring Municipal Golf Course (2025), Golf Hammock Country Club (2026), and Sebring International Golf Resort (2027).

"It is exciting for the entire golf community to rally around this event and write the next chapter of its history with all members of the Citrus Golf Trail," said Sun 'N Lake head professional Andy Kesling.

The format will remain 72 holes of stroke play with no cut. In addition to the Championship division, there will be a Forever 49 division for players aged 50 and over (max 16.4 index) and a Ben Roman division for higher handicaps (7.0 to 24.4 indexes).

Once again the tournament will be a World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) points event, and will also be one of the final chances for players to earn ranking points in advance of the Augusta National Women's Amateur determining their rankings-based invitation list.

With a storied history and a secure future, expect the event to remain a big draw for the nation's top women amateurs and seniors. The field is already taking shape and registration for all three divisions is open at citrusgolftrailinvitational2021.golfgenius.com.

"The opportunity to continue the storied history of the Harder Hall Ladies Invitational as the Citrus Golf Trail Women’s Invitational was vitally important for all of the Citrus Golf Trail members," said Joel Lamp, the new tournament director and senior director of tourism and events for Airstream Ventures. "We are proud to work with the CGT members to continue the legacy of this event and make it stronger for years to come."

ABOUT THE Citrus Golf Trail Ladies Invitational

Formerly known as the Harder Hall Invitational, this is a four-day no cut stroke play tournament for women amateurs. It was played at Harder Hall CC for more than 65 years, but in 2021 it moves to a rotation of courses on the Citrus Golf Trail in Sebring, Florida. The illustrious list of past champions includes the current world #1 Nelly Korda; Hall-of-Famer Joanne Carner; LPGA stars Christie Kerr, Brittany Lincicome, Morgan Pressel, Stacy Lewis and Charley Hull; amateur legends Carol Semple Thompson and Meghan Stasi; and two members of the winning 2021 Curtis Cup Team, Emilia Migliaccio and Gina Kim. It has long drawn an international field and has three Divisions: the Championship Division, the Forever 49 Division (max index 16.4) and the Ben Roman Division (indexes from 7.0 to 24.4). It is the first of the "Orange Blossom" series of Florida winter tournaments.

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