This year’s competition marks the 50th anniversary of the event for 50-and-over females September 7, 2011 By Rhonda Glenn, USGA

The Honors Course is ready to host another USGA championship, the Senior Women's Amateur. (Fred Vuich/USGA)

Chattanooga, Tenn. – The 50th anniversary of the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur Championship officially commenced with a media day for the 2011 competition that begins Sept. 10 at The Honors Course. More than 40 reporters, members of The Honors Course and representatives of the Tennessee Golf Association attended the Aug. 30 event. Also in the audience were three-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Sarah LeBrun Ingram, a Tennessee native, and Betty Probasco, captain of the 1982 USA Curtis Cup Team. Probasco is co-holder of the Senior Women’s Amateur 18-hole scoring record of 67. She fired her record round in 1991 when the Senior Women’s Amateur was a 54-hole stroke-play championship. It was  matched in 1998 by Toni Wiesner during stroke-play qualifying for match play. The Senior Women’s Amateur switched formats in 1997.

In a telephone interview with reporters, defending champion Mina Hardin of Fort Worth, Texas, paid tribute to past competitors in the Senior Women’s Amateur. These women were pioneers and I thank them for all they did to pave the way, Hardin said. Hardin, who was born in Mexico, said she still cannot believe that she is a USGA national champion and she is looking forward to defending her title.

Hardin, 51, won the 2010 championship with a narrow 2-and-1 victory over Alexandra Frazier, 52, of Haverford, Pa., in the final match at Fiddlesticks Country Club in Fort Myers, Fla. Frazier was the 64th and last qualifier for match play, and was vying to become the first No. 64 seed to win a USGA match-play championship. Hardin and Frazier are both among the 132 players who will be competing at The Honors Course.

After two rounds of stroke play Sept. 10-11, the field will be trimmed  to the low 64 players for match play. The championship concludes with an 18-hole final on Sept. 15. The USGA accepted 507 entries for the championship.

Hardin is one of nine past champions who will be on hand at the Players Dinner on Sept. 8 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Senior Women’s Amateur.  Also expected to attend are  Edean Ihlanfeldt (1982), Marlene Streit (1985, 1994, 2003), Jean Smith (1995), Carol Semple Thompson (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002), Carolyn Creekmore (2004), Diane Lang (2005, 2006, 2008), Anna Schultz (2007) and Sherry Herman (2009).

The Honors Course, which was designed by Pete Dye and opened in 1983, will be set up at 5,876 yards with par of 36-36–72 for the championship.

The late Jack Lupton, a Tennessee businessman, founded The Honors Course with the goal of fostering appreciation for amateur golf. The Senior Women’s Amateur will be the club’s fourth USGA amateur competition. In 1991, Mitch Voges won the U.S. Amateur at The Honors Course, defeating Manny Zerman, 7 and 6, for the championship. Three years later, the club hosted the Curtis Cup Match, in which the USA and Great Britain and Ireland battled to a 9-9 tie. In 2005, Kevin Marsh won the U.S. Mid-Amateur with an impressive 10-and-9 victory over Carlton Forrester..

Rhonda Glenn is a manager of communications for the USGA. E-mail her at rglenn@usga.org.