What You Need to Know About Golf's Symetra Tour

Lorena Ochoa of Mexico hits a shot during the first round of the PING Banner Health at Moon Valley CC in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2002.
Lorena Ochoa pictured in 2002, the year she won the Symetra Tour Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards. Scott Halleran/Getty Images 

The Symetra Tour is the second-level professional golf tour for women in the United States, ranking behind the LPGA Tour but ahead of other, regional mini-tours. The Symetra Tour is the official developmental tour of the LPGA and is nicknamed "the road to the LPGA."

Female golfers from around the world make up the fields in the tour's tournaments. While the money earned playing in Symetra Tour events is not lucrative, the big prize is the possibility of a golfer player her way onto the LPGA through the Symetra Tour.

The tour has existed under multiple names during its history, which dates to 1981 and what was then a Florida-based circuit called the Tampa Bay Mini Tour. In 1983, "Futures Tour" became the commonly used name for the circuit, whose official names over the years include Futures Golf Tour, Duramed Futures Tour and LPGA Futures Tour

In 2011, Symetra, an insurance and financial services company, became the tour's title sponsor, and since then the tour's name is Symetra Tour.

Relationship of Symetra Tour and LPGA Tour

The LPGA Tour has, since July 2007, owned the Symetra Tour. (LPGA commissioner Michael Whan is also the Symetra Tour's commissioner, although Symetra Tour operations are directly overseen by a chief business officer.)

Since 1999, the Symetra Tour (then called the Futures Tour) has been designated as the LPGA's official developmental tour, and each year a small number of the Symetra Tour's top golfers "graduate" to the LPGA: They earn LPGA Tour membership for the following year based on high-enough finishes on the Symetra Tour money list.

At the current time, the golfers who finish in the Top 10 on the Symetra Tour's year-end money list earn LPGA membership. The next 12 golfers on the money list earn exemptions into the final stage of LPGA Q-School. (These numbers are occasionally tweaked by the LPGA.)

Any golfer who wins three times in a single season on the Symetra Tour is automatically advanced to the LPGA Tour.

Symetra Tour Schedule

The Symetra Tour's schedule is a calendar-year slate that typically begins in February or March and concludes in late September or early October with the Symetra Tour Championship. The opening dates are flexible, but the end date is pretty firm: The season must end around that time (late September/early October) because of the LPGA Q-School qualifying schedule.

In lean year the tour has had 15-18 tournaments in a season, in better years 20-25 and climbing. Recent years have been better years — the tour's number of tournaments and payouts have increased since the LPGA Tour acquired ownership.

For the current year's schedule, see the Tournaments section of the official Symetra Tour website.

Symetra Tour Award Winners

The tour has named a Player of the Year every year since 1984, and began awarding a Rookie of the Year in 2000:

Year Player of the Year Rookie of the Year
2019 Perrine Delacour Patty Tavatanakit
2018 Ruixin Liu Linnea Strom
2017 Benyapa Niphatsophon Hannah Green
2016 Madelene Sagstrom Madelene Sagstrom
2015 Annie Park Annie Park
2014 Marissa Steen Min Lee
2013 P.K. Kongkraphan Giulia Molinaro
2012 Esther Choe Mi Hyang Lee
2011 Kathleen Ekey Sydnee Michaels
2010 Cindy LaCrosse Jennifer Song
2009 Mina Harigae Mina Harigae
2008 Vicky Hurst Vicky Hurst
2007 Emily Bastel Violeta Retamoza
2006 Song-Hee Kim Song-Hee Kimg
2005 Seon-Hwa Lee Sun Young Yoo
2004 Jimin Kang Aram Cho
2003 Stacy Prammanasudh Sun Young Moon
2002 Lorena Ochoa Lorena Ochoa
2001 Beth Bauer Beth Bauer
2000 Heather Zakhar Jamie Hullett
1999 Grace Park  
1998 Michelle Bell  
1997 Marilyn Lovander  
1996 Vickie Moran  
1995 Patty Ehrhart  
1994 Marilyn Lovander  
1993 Nanci Bowen  
1992 Jodi Figley  
1991 Kim Williams  
1990 Denise Baldwin  
1989 Jennifer MacCurrach  
1988 Jenny Lidback  
1987 Laurel Kean  
1986 Tammie Green  
1985 Tammie Green  
1984 Penny Hammel  

All-Time Bests: Symetra Tour Records

Let's start with a few of the all-time scoring records for the Symetra Tour. For a four-day tournament (72 holes), the lowest winning score in tour history is 261, set by Jennifer Song in 2010. For a three-day tournament (54 holes), the record is 198. That record is shared by Vicky Hurst (2008) and Christine Song (2010).

The 18-hole Symetra Tour scoring record is 61, recorded twice in tour history, and both in the same tournament. The tournament was the 2010 Tate & Lyle Players Championship at Hickory Point Golf Club in Decatur, Ill. The two golfers who posted 61s there are Rachel Connor and Jennifer Song. And yes, that's the same tournament where Song set the 72-hole record.

The lowest 9-hole score in tour history is 28, established by Sue Ginter-Brooker in 2002.

Most wins in a single season on the Symetra Tour? Laurel Kean won nine tournaments in 1987. Most career wins on the Symetra Tour? Tammie Green won 11 times total before moving up to the LPGA Tour.

The record for longest winning streaks — winning the most starts in a row — is three. Lynn Connelly (1983), Tammie Green (1986), Jennifer MacCurrach (1989) and Vicky Hurst (2008) all won three consecutive tournaments.

And the youngest winner in Symetra Tour history is Hannah O'Sullivan, who was 16 years, nine months and 11 days old when she won the 2015 Gateway Classic.