It seems like every year you can count on Gabrielle Shipley and Sarah Shipley to compete in the Symetra Tour FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship at the Battle Creek Country Club.
The seventh annual tournament Friday, July 24, 2020, with tee times starting at 7:30 a.m. will be Gabrielle's fifth tournament appearance and Sarah's third. The Hastings natives are the two sponsorship exemptions for the 2020 tournament. Gabrielle did not attempt to re-qualify for the tour, while Sarah would be returning to her team at the University of Kentucky for her fifth year of eligibility after COVID-19 brought her senior season to an early end.
Since the sisters said they would be staying with family in Hastings and would get another chance to play in their backyard.
"For early morning tee times it's nice you don't have to wake up super early for like a half an hour drive to the course and then to be able to do what you have to do out here and have a close place to go home and relax and feel comfortable with family right there and it makes it feel more like home instead of traveling," Gabrielle Shipley said.
This will be the third sponsor exemption for Sarah and her second consecutive year playing in the tournament. A sponsorship exemption allow a business sponsoring the tournament to bring in players who are not part of the Symetra Tour, the sisters were the only two exemptions.
With both sisters getting a sponsorship exemption this year they are thankful for the opportunity.
"We're both very grateful for it. Especially to Kathy George and FireKeepers and Battle Creek Country Club. Just to get to know these people more and more every year and to build real relationships with them and friendships. It's just an awesome thing and it goes beyond just playing in a tournament and just to know we have their support and they're rooting for us and that we're really grateful for the opportunities they have given us," Sarah Shipley said.
Normally, the sisters would have friends and family members following them around the course, but this year there will be no spectators due to the safety of the players.
The seventh annual FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship would mark the return of play for the Symetra Tour after a four-month hiatus caused by COVID-19.