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Two promising golfers to compete as Exemptions in the Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass

(HARRIS, MICHIGAN) – The Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass (June 21-23) will feature two promising young golfers looking to step up to the big stage. Both athletes, coincidentally, are named Gabby. They will be competing as “sponsor exemptions,” which are used to invite popular or promising players who might not otherwise qualify. They will be part of the field of 144 professional golfers who will be competing for $225,000 in prize money at Sweetgrass.

Gabriella DeGasperis, known to her online followers as @gabbygolfgirl, has more than 775,000 social media followers and is sure to pick up more when she participates as one of the exemptions. At just 16 years old, DeGasperis, of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, is the first ever junior golfer to document her journey across social media platforms with the goal to make women’s golf more approachable and entertaining.


In her online posts, DeGasperis regularly displays her trick golf skills, exercise routines and participates in 1v1 Match play challenges. But this online home-schooled student is serious about her sport, competing in junior golf tournaments across the country.

“I want to go as far as I can (in this sport),” said DeGasperis. “But I’ll always be bringing social media along, because I want others following along on my journey.”

Tournament Chairman Tony Mancilla agrees. “The Island Resort Championship wants to be part of her journey in golf. Through social media, the Island Resort Championship would like to show the golf world what an Epson Tour event looks like from the players perspective. The players are outstanding and we want the world to know.”  

People can do just that as she’ll be posting Instagram reels leading up to the Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass, her first time playing as an exemption on the Epson Tour.

[Follow GABBYGOLFGIRL on YouTube@gabbygolfgirl on Instagram]

The tournament’s second exemption, Gabby Lemieux, 27, is the only female Native American professional golfer. She is a member of the Shoshone Paiute tribe of Duck Valley Indian Reservation and grew up in Caldwell, Idaho. She first picked up a club at age six, fell in love with the game while on the high school golf team, and eventually played for Texas Tech where she achieved four collegiate wins, was ranked number one in the country and earned Big 12 Player of the Year.

Gabby Lemieux

Lemieux played in her first Epson event after graduating. She found, as many young professional golfers do, the road to the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) has hills and valleys – moving from tournament play to Qualifying School, to nearly getting her LPGA card in 2019. She did not retain her status for the 2024 season but hopes that exemption invites such as this will help her gain momentum to get back on the tour.

“It’s those hard places, challenges, and ruts in the road that change your course in the future,” said Lemieux. “The future is the only thing I think about, because no matter how bad my season may be going, I know that I am one good tournament away from changing the course of my golf career and ultimately my life.”

Her hard work and determination make her a great role model for Native American youth.

“(Golf) teaches you patience, controlling what you can control, discipline, dedication, courage,” said Lemieux. Most importantly, it tests the limits within yourself. Golf’s purpose to me is becoming more than just a great golfer. It is to become a better woman on and off the course and a mentor for young kids.”

“Gabby Lemieux is a testament to what hard work can do for an individual,” said Mancilla. “To play on the Epson Tour is a huge accomplishment. It’s the next step to the LPGA. Gabby is always available to interact with the youth on the Reservation through her golf platform. Being in the field and competing is the way she shows our kids that anything is possible.” 


Fans attending the Island Resort Championship are encouraged to bring a chair or utilize the bleachers by the nine and eighteen greens, as well as at the center of the course. They are also welcome to follow golfers as they play their rounds and can get autographs and photos taken with golfers at the end of their rounds. Food and beverages are available on the course, and food costs just $3.

Tickets to the June tournament are $10 for adults and free for 17 and under with an adult. Tickets are on-sale now at local non-profits, with proceeds going to the charities that sell them. A list of participating organizations can be found online at

Photos courtesy of Epson Tour

About Island Resort & Casino:

Located in Michigan's scenic Upper Peninsula 15 minutes west of Escanaba, Island Resort & Casino is one of the Midwest's largest golf, casino and entertainment resort destinations. The resort features over 450 guest rooms, more than 1,200 of the latest slots, a poker room, various gaming tables and a bingo hall, two championship golf courses, the luxurious Drift Spa, an RV Park, a headline entertainment showroom, a dedicated Sportsbook space, a pool with waterpark features, a customizable, expansive convention space and enough dining choices to please every palate. The Island Resort and Casino is truly your total resort destination. It is easily accessible via two regional airports in Escanaba and Marquette connecting through Detroit, Saginaw, Lansing or Grand Rapids. Plan your stay today, then get ready to enjoy your total experience at the Island!  For more information, visit

About the Epson Tour: 

The Epson Tour is the official qualifying tour of the LPGA Tour and enters its 44th competitive season in 2024. With the support of entitlement partner Seiko Epson Corporation, the Tour’s mission is to prepare the world’s best female professional golfers for a successful career on the LPGA Tour. In the last decade, the Epson Tour has grown from 15 tournaments and $1.6 million in prize money to $5 million awarded across 20 events in 2024. With more than 600 graduates and alumnae moving on to the LPGA Tour, former Epson Tour players have won 480 LPGA titles. 

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