RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Kraft Nabisco Championship week officially teed off in Rancho Mirage. The first major championship of the LPGA season brings tens of thousands of spectators to the Mission Hills Country Club each year. This year, the tournament's adding a new attraction, just for the fans. A new sign with the words "KNC Fan Experience" greets spectators at the tournament. Organizers hope it helps a new push further engage the gallery. "In addition to coming out and seeing some great golf, by the tour players, the new fan experience is going to add a great element to the event," said Chris Keener from the First Tee of the Coachella Valley who has a booth in the new area.
The fan experience includes different booths like samples of Kraft Nabisco food, a long putt contest for prizes and the official merchandise tent, just to name a few. Every year for the last five years, Agnes McClure has made her way to the desert from Canada for the tournament. She's excited about the new addition. "I think it's wonderful, especially the First Tee thing," said McClure. "That is just wonderful, it's a great experience."
The First Tee is an area where children can learn the basics of the game from a professional on equipment made for them. Eleven-year-old Jack Dixon and his sister Katie took a swing on the miniature course. "Yeah, it was fun," said Dixon. "The obstacles get in the way, and you have to beat the master over here, and it's just fun to experience all of this and get the action."
Action that exceeded the expectations for the Dixon family, who paid their first visit to the tournament from Orange County. "It was great, we actually didn't expect anything today, and then to be part of the fan experience was neat," said Todd Dixon. "It's nice to have all the kids experience this."
In just its first year, the new area could become a selling point for the tournament. "This is one of the reasons we wanted to come see, just the whole fan experience, the hands on, it's just great," said Katie Dixon.
The fan experience also offers an unobstructed view of the 18th green where all players will finish their rounds. Access to the area is free.