As the old saw goes, golf is the game of a lifetime. This weekend, 132 competitors from 38 states and five countries – ranging in age from 50 to 73 – will begin play in the 56th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at Waverley Country Club in Portland, Ore.
Defending champion Ellen Port, one of the most decorated golfers in USGA championship history – of any age – will try to win her eighth USGA title.
The championship is open to any amateur qualifier with a Handicap Index® no higher than 18.4 and a birthday no later than Sept. 9. 1967. The field is full of players with great stories of lives dedicated to golf. Here are a few:
THE LITTLE SISTER
Ask Martha Leach why golf appealed to her and she has one simple answer: the quiet.
When you are one of 10 siblings, you find peace anywhere you can get it, even if that means you are playing the same game as your older sister, Hollis Stacy, the three-time U.S. Women’s Open champion and three-time U.S. Girls’ Junior champion.
Leach, who sells real estate in Hebron, Ky., introduced her sister at Hollis’ 2012 World Golf Hall of Fame induction. But the 2009 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion and 2015 inductee of the Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame has plenty of game herself.
“I love the competition, the solitary challenge and the way you have to give 100 percent to golf. Still, for this championship, it is thrilling to be among women who have the same goals,” she said. “We appreciate the opportunity, try to accept the challenge, but respect each other.
“I absolutely love the USGA. I remember being about 8 years old, thinking that it stood for ‘US, Ga.’ because we were from Georgia. And to give us the opportunity to keep competing and making us feel like rock stars, is awesome. We play the best courses, with great facilities and supportive members. My mom was a volunteer Rules official for the Junior Championship Committee for two decades and I have so much respect for the volunteers. We get to take a vacation to play championships and they take vacation to work so hard.”
The 55-year-old doesn’t want to discuss it for fear of jinxing it, but Leach does admit that the prospect of playing well enough to qualify for the inaugural 2018 U.S. Senior Women’s Open is exciting.
“I am trying to trick my mind into thinking, I am not playing for that, but it would be a wonderful opportunity to play in that championship with Hollis. We have played more together in the last two years than we ever have before because our schedules allow and we have a wonderful time. We have never had a rivalry. We always pull for each other.”