Honda Classic 2018: New Lilly Pulitzer Lounge a hit with fans

6:51 p.m Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 Local
Lilly Pulitzer employee Chelsea Barry is seen speaking on the phone at the Lilly Pulitzer tent during the third round of the 2018 Honda Classic at PGA National Resrt and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., on Saturday, February 24, 2018. (Andres Leiva / The Palm Beach Post)

A splashy, hand-painted Lilly Pulitzer photo backdrop and signature “Lilly” cocktails welcome women to the Lilly Pulitzer Lounge, a new venue at the 10th green at the Honda Classic.

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It’s the tournament’s latest effort to grow the game of golf among a wider audience and the Palm Beach-born resort wear brand’s first major venture on the PGA Tour. So far, it’s been a success, said CEO Michelle Kelly.

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Lilly Pulitzer’s designers painted a limited-edition Honda Classic print playing off the Bear Trap, with proceeds from the scarves, hats, silk shirts, shorts and totes benefiting Honda Classic Cares, the tournament’s charitable arm. People started buying them up online a few weeks ago.

“We were encouraged by the response. There was a lot of appetite,” Kelly said.

Organizers tried to hold back most of the Honda Classic-themed apparel for the tournament, but “it is selling pretty quickly,” Kelly said, during a short break from greeting spectators at the lounge Saturday.

The Honda Classic print decorates everything from the exterior of the lounge to the tablecloths covering the high-top tables that offer a clear view of the 10th green. Orchids dot the tables, and a comfy white couch replete with bright pillows offers fans a shady place to watch the parade of golfers while they drink champagne or the “Lilly,” a mix of gold rum, lemonade, ginger beer and mint.

The Lilly Pulitzer team hand-painted a selfie-ready photo backdrop. Visitors also can have their photo taken by a professional photographer and get a print-out in minutes.

Molly Seelig, 8, was enthusiastic about taking a selfie with her mom, Rebecca.

“I love Lilly, and she loves Lilly, too,” Rebecca Seelig, of Palm Beach Gardens, said. “I think it’s amazing they got the print. You wear it year-round in Florida anyway.”

The brand’s popularity among the Palm Beach crowd was a catalyst for the foray into the PGA Tour, Kelly said. It’s unclear if Lilly Pulitzer will eventually pop up at other tournaments.

“This one is the perfect one for us, given its proximity to Palm Beach and the Gardens,” Kelly said, referring to The Gardens Mall store where women go to buy outfits for the tournament. “We find ourselves popping up in places where our customer is, and she is definitely here.”

Laurie Smith said she and her husband stumbled onto the lounge while walking around the tournament. She found a shady spot on the couch, he a sunny spot along the green.

“I love it. I think it’s the best seat in the house,” said Smith, who winters in Jupiter and lives in Huntington, New York. “I’m a Lilly-wearer for years. I live in Lilly most of the time.”