LPGA Announces Official 2011 Schedule
By Stephanie Wei under LPGA

As promised, the LPGA released its official 2011 schedule on Thursday, January 6, which doesn’t bring too many surprises compared to the one mistakenly leaked last weekend. There are 24 official events and 8 domestic full-field non-major tournaments.

One main difference is the first event held in the United States will be a charity tournament, the inaugural RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, which has an intriguing approach — the ladies will play for free, according to Golfweek‘s Beth Ann Baldry:

The inaugural Founders Cup, designed in the spirit of pioneering LPGA founders, will be a charity-driven event in which players receive financial help for travel expenses, but don’t take home a paycheck. Sources say the three-day tournament will be in Phoenix at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge on March 18-20, kicking off the tour’s domestic schedule. The move fills a key market for the LPGA, which attracted record crowds at nearby Superstition Mountain when Safeway was sponsor of the former event.

Players still would receive official “money” and points toward rankings, the Hall of Fame and season-ending awards. They’d just give whatever money they earned back to charity.

With the limited events for non-top-50 LPGA players, I wonder how they feel about competing for free to kick off the year. I mean, for the most part, I’m sure they’ll suck it up and put on their happy faces, but it’s not like the majority are raking in hundreds of thousands or millions in purse money.

Another addition is the HSBC Brazil Cup, an unofficial event, and the season-ending Titleholders, which replaces the 120-player LPGA Tour Championship. The biennial Solheim Cup will take place in Ireland on September 23-25, between the Navistar LPGA Classic in Arkansas and the LPGA Hana Bank Championship in Korea.

The schedule at times will force the ladies to traverse across the world from one continent to another, but it doesn’t seem like a drastic change to what many are used to — or much different from what the European Tour players do.

Here’s the schedule via Golf Digest:

Honda PTT LPGA Thailand                                          Feb. 17-20

HSBC Women’s Champions (Singapore)                    Feb. 24-27

RR Donnelley Founders Cup                                       March 17-20

Kia Classic (City of Industry, CA)                                 March 24-27

Kraft Nabisco Championship                                       March 31-April 3

Tres Marias (Mexico)                                                   April 21-24

Avnet LPGA Classic (Ala.)                                          April 29-May 1

Sybase Match Play Championship                              May 19-22

HSBC Brazil Cup (Unofficial event)                            May 26-29

ShopRite LPGA Classic                                              June 3-5

LPGA State Farm Classic                                           June 9-12

LPGA Championship by Wegmans                            June 23-26

U.S. Women’s Open                                                  July 7-10

Evian Masters                                                            July 21-24

Ricoh Women’s British Open                                     July 28-31

Imperial Springs (China)                                            Aug. 4-7

Safeway Classic                                                       Aug. 19-21

CN Canadian Women’s Open                                        Aug. 25-28

Walmart NW Arkansas Championship                        Sept. 9-11

Navistar LPGA Classic                                            Sept. 15-18

Solheim Cup Killeen Castle, Ireland                             Sept. 23-25

LPGA Hana Bank Championship (Korea)                  Oct. 6-9

Sime Darby LPGA Malayasia                                        Oct. 14-16

LPGA Taiwan  Championship                                     Oct. 20-23

Mizuno Classic (Japan)                                                Nov. 4-6

Lorena Ochoa Invitational (Mexico)                        Nov. 10-13

Titleholders                                                        Nov. 17-20