Terri Frohnmayer, the reigning USGA Senior Women’s Amateur champion, has never seen the golf course, but she relishes the opportunity to defend her championship at Hershey Country Club’s West Course Sept. 8-13.
"I will have some confidence, but some nerves too," said Frohnmayer, who was speaking at media day on July 30 via teleconference from her commercial real estate office in Salem, Ore. "I still get nervous on the first tee of my golf course. That’s always there and that’s a good thing. It makes you dig a little deeper and probably focus more."
Frohnmayer hopes to play with the same intensity that led to a 2-and-1 victory over 2010 champion Mina Hardin in last year’s Senior Women’s Amateur final at The Honors Course in Chattanooga, Tenn. Consistently out-hit from the tee, Frohnmayer fended off a field of experienced players and responded to adversity with some brilliant short-game play. An accomplishment she has yet to fully understand.
"It was quite a jolt and I was a bit numb for awhile," she said. "My mental game was able to stay at a level that I had not done for a long time. It took a couple or three weeks to realize what I had achieved."
Frohnmayer, who lost to Betsy King in the second round of the 1973 U.S. Girls’ Junior and was a member of the Rollins College team that played in the 1978 National Women’s Collegiate Championship, put her clubs away after going into the real estate business following college, and didn’t play again until 2003. After her mother died four years later, Frohnmayer returned to competition at her late parent’s urging and won the 2010 Pacific Northwest Golf Association’s Women’s Senior Championship. The support of her family has helped keep a balance. The 2012 Senior Women’s Amateur was just her third appearance in a USGA championship.
"Golf is my release, it’s my other work so to speak," said Frohnmayer, who leaves for the office early in the morning so she can head for the golf course around 4:30 in the afternoon. "It’s a nice diversion for me. I have a very accepting husband who is my biggest fan when it comes to my achievements in golf. It’s difficult to maintain a level of play that is expected."
What is known about the upcoming Senior Women’s Amateur is that the long hitters may not have a distinct advantage over the 6,220-yard, par-74 course. Frohnmayer will come to Pennsylvania armed with confidence and a spot on short game to successfully defend her title and bring another USGA trophy home to a proud Oregon community.
Hershey claims to be the Sweetest Place on Earth, thanks to a famous chocolate company by the same name.
Noreen Mohler is living proof. Mohler, who will attempt to qualify for the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur through sectional play on Aug. 7, hopes to return to an area that holds many memories. Not only is Mohler a former Hershey Country Club member, but she was married in Derry Presbyterian Church, just off the West Course’s fourth hole. Her in-laws’ final resting place is in the church’s graveyard. Her emotions, with her husband, Jeff, in the audience, came forward while speaking during the recentmedia day program.
Mohler, who would potentially play in her 29th USGA championship after first appearing in the U.S. Girls’ Junior as a 14-year-old, would love to continue creating memories. She captained the 2010 USA Curtis Cup Team to victory at Essex County Club in her native Massachusetts, played on for the winning 1978 Curtis Cup squad and made five U.S. Women’s Open appearances. So the Bethlehem, Pa., resident is no stranger to national and international competition.
"There is nothing like playing in a USGA event," said Mohler, who qualified for the 2009 U.S. Women’s Amateur at the age of 55. "As a competitive golfer, it is a major goal. You know upon arrival on site that you are in for a memorable experience. An excellent golf course, great competition, and a wonderfully organized and professionally administrated event is what you can expect."
Hershey Country Club’s West Course hosted the LPGA's Lady Keystone Open from 1978-94 ... JoAnne Gunderson Carner (eight USGA titles) and Juli Inkster (five USGA titles) each won the tournament twice during that time period ... There are currently 20 fully exempt players for the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur, including Carol Semple Thompson, who is tied for fifth among all competitors with seven USGA championships, including four consecutive Senior Women’s Amateur titles from 1999 ... Terri Frohnmayer is joined in the field by past champions Marlene Stewart Streit, Anna Schultz, Diane Lang, Sherry Herman, Mina Hardin, Carolyn Creekmore and Thompson … Sectional qualifying will be held at 26 sites from Aug. 7-23 … Ben Hogan, who won four U.S. Opens, and Henri Picard, the 1938 Masters and 1939 PGA champion, each served as club professionals at Hershey Country Club ... Byron Nelson won the 1940 PGA Championship on Hershey's West Course ... This will be the sixth time the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur will be played in the state of Pennsylvania.
Brian DePasquale is a manager of championship communications for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.