Otter Creek to host ladies’ Epson Tour event

Cailyn Henderson

Submitted photo

Otter Creek has hosted some big golf tournaments in the past, and in three weeks, the course will be hosting one of its biggest ever.

The inaugural Otter Creek Championship will be played June 14-16 as part of the Epson Tour, the official development tour of the LPGA and the ladies’ equivalent of the men’s Korn Ferry Tour. Players will compete for a purse of $300,000.

“This is the first in awhile for Otter to host a professional event,” said Austin Wright, director of golf for Otter Creek and Harrison Lake Country Club. “We’re trying to piece it together. Typically with an event like this, we get at least a year, sometimes a year-and-a-half, of lead time to get this together, and we had six months. We found out in January, so we’ve had to do double time and sometimes triple time to get this together. But we have a pretty good team here. We’ve all been out and moving around and making sure everything is where it needs to be.”

That leadership team includes owner and COO Bob Haddad, general manager Jimmy St. John, Otter Creek pro Andrew Weisheit and Harrison Lake pro Aaron Craig.

On June 10, Harrison Lake will host a “Sip and Swing,” a Ladies-Only Pro-Am event which is open to all females. A couple of the Epson Tour players are going to put on a clinic for the guests.

An all-inclusive pro-am will be June 13 at Otter Creek.

Otter Creek still needs about another 50 volunteers for the tournament, with many of those spots for tracking scores. There is a $60 sign-up fee to be a volunteer, but all meals, shirts and hats are included, plus — depending on how many hours worked — a round of golf at Otter Creek or Harrison Lake.

“When you put it all together, it could end up being a value of $200 or $300,” Wright said. “We have talked to hundreds of companies trying to get volunteers, which we still need, for what we think is going to be a very exciting event.”

Admission to the Otter Creek Championship will be free and open to the public.

At least three golfers from Central Indiana are entered. Center Grove and Duke graduate Erica Shepherd is a member of the Epson Tour. Former Westfield and University of Indianapolis golfer Cailyn Henderson and former Zionsville and Clemson player Annabelle Pancake are host exemptions.

The 23-year-old Henderson has gained a little celebrity status over the past couple of years through her YouTube videos and launching of Fore The Girls clothing line.

“The past year-and-a-half or so, I haven’t really golfed in many tournaments because I’ve been working,” Henderson said. “I’ve been missing the competitive aspect, so I want to start getting back in tournaments. Ideally, I would love to play in multiple of these every single year and then some other qualifiers, as well.”

Cailyn Henderson of Westfield will be playing in the Epson Tour’s Otter Creek Championship.

Submitted photo

Henderson went to the Epson Tour’s Qualifying School, but did not make it past the first stage. She still has limited status for Tour events.

“When you just have some status, it’s hard to get on there,” Henderson said. “I’ve been always wanting to, and then I finally saw that there were a couple in Indiana. I want to play in more. I have been preparing for the past four or five months, and I feel so good now. I want to win.”

Henderson is thrilled to be playing in her home state.

“You have no idea how excited I am,” Henderson said. “I’ve missed the competitive aspect, so I’m really excited to get competitive with the girls and just have fun, too, because I feel like the Epson Tour, obviously, people are very serious on it, which they should be, but I just feel like it’s missing the fun aspect. So I’m excited to kind of try and bring that, and I’m so excited for it to be in Indiana, too, just because there’s not a lot of tournaments in Indiana, especially in the professional realm. So I’m just so happy that I’m only an hour away and can drive to the tournament every day. Indiana is the best place on earth to me, so I’m excited.”