Dalhousie, Stupples end arrangement

Friday, March 30, 2007

The LPGA tour player had served as the club's touring professional since 2002.

Karen Stupples, the 2004 British Women's Open champion, is taking a break from the LPGA tour this spring while expecting her first child.

And she can no longer be referred to as Dalhousie Golf Club's touring pro.

Dalhousie Golf Club managing member Cord Dombrowski confirmed Thursday that Stupples no longer is being sponsored by the club after a 4 1/2-year business relationship ended in 2006.

"We both thought it was the best way to go," Dombrowski said. "The relationship has changed slightly from the way it was, with where she is in her career and starting to raise a family. Her approach to golf has changed slightly, and ours has as well.

"We still have a relationship, of course. This is just the business side."

Dombrowski, who last spoke to Stupples at the end of the 2006 season, said she is expecting in April. She may return to professional golf in Europe as early as June with a goal to play a limited LPGA schedule in the fall.

Stupples, 33, became Dalhousie's touring pro in March 2002, just a year after the course in southwest Cape Girardeau opened. At that point, Stupples had made $185,000 total in three years on the LPGA Tour. Stupples, a native of England who was a second-team all-American at Florida State in 1995, surpassed that amount annually over the next five seasons.

She broke through in 2004 with her first win at the Welch's/Fry's Championship, and added the British Women's Open title later that season. She finished 2004 with more than $968,000 in earnings.

She has not won an LPGA championship since but represented Europe in 2005 in the Solheim Cup, which was played near Indianapolis, and has surpassed $2.25 million in career earnings on the tour.

With her success -- 16 top-10 LPGA finishes from 2002 to 2006 -- Stupples wore the Dalhousie hat while her caddie carried the club's bag in some high-profile situations. In addition, she made several appearances each year in Cape Girardeau, working on her game at the club, touting the junior program and lending a face to the club's Stupples Cup tournament. She still holds membership in the club.

"It was fabulous," Dombrowski said. "It lined up perfectly. Her game progressed nicely, and the life of Dalhousie progressed from the white house [serving as the pro shop] to the trailer to our clubhouse. It worked out nicely for both of us."

Dalhousie isn't short of projects to work on with the clubhouse slated to open this year. The club will host the Missouri Golf Association's four-ball championship, the Gateway Section PGA championship and also is hosting the first event in a three-year commitment with the American Junior Golf Association series. The third event of that agreement, in 2009, is the AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions. The Missouri state amateur is coming to Dalhousie in 2012.

Dalhousie still may pursue a business relationship with another up-and-coming player. Dombrowski said he made some contacts while playing in a pro-am at a Nationwide tour event last year.

"That's a possibility," he said. "We have not aggressively looked at that in the offseason. We're just focused on getting into our clubhouse and getting the facilties going. We're focused on what we have going with amateur events -- the Missouri Golf Association and the AJGA."

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