Las Americas tournament and Lorena Ochoa spotlight golf in San Antonio

By Mike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

SAN ANTONIO -- How important is the Latin American/Mexican golf market to San Antonio? Let's just say that the new Las Americas Golf Tournament isn't just another scramble.

Lorena Ochoa
Mexican golfer Lorena Ochoa, who was ranked No. 1 in the world before her retirement, headlines the Las Americas Golf Tournament in San Antonio.
Lorena OchoaWestin La Cantera resortWestin La Cantera Palmer golf courseSan Antonio River Walk
If you go

Scheduled for Sept. 17-21, the Las Americas will feature the world's former top-ranked female golfer in the world, Lorena Ochoa, as well as influential business leaders on both sides of the border. The scramble tournament will be conducted on Sept. 21 at both the Westin La Cantera Resort Course and Westin La Cantera Palmer Course. And officials hope that the Las Americas, presented by IBC Bank, will be the first of what could be a big annual event.

But it's much more than just a golf tournament; it's a four-day event that will feature Hill Country excursions, sightseeing, dining and shopping on the River Walk, theme parks, visits to the Alamo as well as an awards gala and a fashion show. The event also coincides with the Bicentennial of the Independence of Mexico (1810) and the Centennial of the Mexican Revolution (1910).

"We're targeting golfers in Latin America, who set the trends, and business leaders in Mexico and Latin America, who can forge new opportunities in this market," said Scott White, executive director of the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"San Antonio's quality of life, leisure activities and strong economy attract travelers and business investments from our Latin American neighbors. With the Las Americas Golf Tournament, we're now positioning our city as the preferred golf destination for Latin American travelers."

Ochoa brings golf to the forefront

The star of the show, of course, is Ochoa, who announced her retirement earlier this year as she moves on with life's other pursuits. Besides family, one of her causes is her foundation, "Ayudar es Posible" ("To Help Is Possible"), which will be the charitable beneficiary of the event.

Ochoa committed to this tournament before her retirement announcement this spring and reaffirmed her commitment after her announcement.

"Golf is really big now in Mexico," said Frances Schultschik, the San Antonio CVB's director of strategic development and public relations, Mexico and Latin America. "The person who did that was Lorena Ochoa."

San Antonio's effort to promote golf and this event has been full bore. The CVB has launched a full media blitz -- especially in Mexico -- and enlisted some high-profile sponsors. One prominent Mexican magazine, "Casas & Gente," devoted most of its May issue to San Antonio golf, profiling resorts, courses, private clubs and lifestyles in the Alamo City.

Named by as one of America's Top 10 Golf Cities, San Antonio continues to gain attention for its expanding collection of quality resort courses and championship venues. Among them is the Westin La Cantera Resort, longtime home of the Texas Open and now host of Las Americas.

Other courses on the San Antonio can't-miss list include historic Brackenridge Park, the Quarry Golf Club, Hyatt Hill Country Resort, Canyon Springs, Pecan Valley Golf Club and the new TPC San Antonio, which opened in January with the AT&T Oaks and AT&T Canyons courses.

One of the reasons the Latin American market is so important is that many prominent Latin American families have second homes as well as golf memberships in the United States. More and more of them are locating in San Antonio, the ninth largest city in the United States.

Las Americas sponsors

International Bank of Commerce serves as title sponsor for 2010. Neiman Marcus will be behind the fashion show, and Gibson Guitars is creating special signature guitars that will be signed by Ochoa and sold at auction. There will also be a demo day sponsored by Ping.

Companies that do business with prominent Latin American families and businessmen are using the tournament to help foster their business relationships. And while most of the participants will be invited, there are spots available in the tournament. Those interested can buy a foursome for $5,000.

For more information on Las Americas, click here.

Mike BaileyMike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.

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