Diamond Resorts has been sponsoring golf tournaments since 2013, when PGA TOUR professional Brian Gay offered to lend his name to the inaugural event to help raise money for Florida Hospital for Children. More than 300 golfers, celebrities and spectators attended the event, which included a celebrity-only golf tournament with a $40,000 purse.
In 2014, the tournament expanded to include professional players and a private headline concert by country music artist and Diamond Celebrity ambassador Colt Ford. It was after this tournament that Mike Flaskey, tournament founder and Diamond Resorts CEO, realized that the company had captured “lightning in a bottle.”
Flaskey used his connections in the sports industry to continue growing the tournament in 2016, and officially changed the name to the Diamond Resorts Invitational. For the first time, it was nationally televised on Golf Channel, featured a Modified Stableford scoring format and included a $500,000 purse. It was a groundbreaking event and quickly caught media and spectator attention.
In 2017, the tournament became a PGA TOUR Champions Challenge Season event with 27 PGA TOUR Champions players, three LPGA players and 48 other amateur celebrity players. Threesomes included one professional and two celebrities playing their own ball from the same tees for separate purses totaling $1.2 million. The once amateur golf tournament had grown into a week-long, full-scale, multidimensional vacation experience. And the fun only continued in 2018, with a similar tournament format.
But everything is changing for 2019.
The Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions is a brand new, one-of-a-kind tournament, bringing back the champion’s tournament that the LPGA hasn’t had in more than a decade. As an official LPGA event and the 2019 seasons opener, the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions will feature the top professional women golfers in the world, with only winners from the past two LPGA seasons qualifying to compete for $1.2 million in official prize money. The pros will be joined by 45 sports and entertainment celebrities competing for their own $500,000 purse, along with 10 amateur golfers, who qualify in the event pro-am, to play alongside the stars during official tournament rounds.