U.S. SENIOR WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Wellesley C.C. Set to Host Top Senior Female Amateurs
September 14, 2016 | Wellesley, Mass.
By Massachusetts Golf Association
Come experience national championship golf plus the “true essence of hospitality” as Wellesley Country Club hosts the 2016 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship
“Wellesley Country Club has already proven to be a wonderful host site for a USGA championship,” said Thomas J. O’Toole Jr., USGA vice president and chairman of its Championship Committee on January 15, 2014 when the club was awarded the championship. “We are very happy to return to Wellesley with the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, and we are confident that the success of 2003 will be repeated in 2016.”
With that official announcement, the wheels were put into motion for the 56th national championship to be conducted in the Bay State, the second one hosted by Wellesley. The club previously served as the site of the 2003 USGA Women’s State Team Championship. This also marks the first time the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur will be contested in Massachusetts; the state now will have hosted 12 of the overall 13 USGA championships (California and Minnesota are the only two states to have hosted all 13).
“It is our honor to have been invited by the USGA to be the host club for this national championship and a privilege to be able to give back to the wonderful game of golf. ” noted Kathleen Boyce, Wellesley’s club president.
“The board, the championship host committee, club management, staff and club members are very ex-cited to be working with the USGA to make this an exceptional event. We look forward to an exciting championship and to welcoming the players, USGA staff and all who love to watch great championship golf.”
Wellesley is justly proud of its reputation as one of the most welcoming golf facilities anywhere. Its ‘new’ clubhouse was built with “the true essence of hospitality” in mind as Marty Ryan, the club’s general manager since 1992, noted in his toast during the 2008 opening celebration.
Eight years later, that abundant goodwill will be in evidence to spectators and contestants alike.
“Nearly 400 volunteers from Wellesley as well as other local golf venues will serve as walking marshals, scorers, spotters, standard bearers, player registration assistants and more,” noted Boyce. “The USGA and Wellesley thank each of them for helping make this championship a great experience for everyone involved.”
The U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, first conducted in 1962, is open to female amateur golfers age 50 and older. In the late 1950s, a number of senior women’s golf organizations had been formed, principally to conduct tournaments, but there was no existing tournament to determine the national champion. The USGA was re-quested to step in and, in January 1962, the executive committee approved such a competition.
“In its own quiet way, senior women’s golf has flourished over the years,” notes the USGA media guide. “Several major competitions have sprung up... and the number of quality senior players has increased dramatically. Many women, age 50 and over, for the first time find they have the requisite time for top-level competitive golf.
Additionally, some of the nation’s finest amateurs have advanced into this age group and still seek to test their talent and experience on a championship level. Many women who enter these competitions also have been instrumental in the development of women’s golf in this country, encouraging younger players and conducting tournaments at all levels.”
The event’s format was 54-holes of stroke play from 1962-96. Since 1997, the format has mirrored all other USGA amateur events, with 36 holes of on-site qualifying to determine the final 64 players for match play.
The inaugural 1962 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur featured two longtime rivals. Maureen Orcutt, a four-time Curtis Cup player, finished with a 54-hole score of 240, seven strokes ahead of Glenna Collett Vare. In the 1920s and 1930s, Vare had reigned as this country’s finest woman player with a record six victories in the U.S. Women’s Amateur. Among the other notable winners over the years are Carolyn Cudone, Alice Dye, Ellen Port, Dorothy Porter, Anne Sander, Marlene Stewart Streit and Carol Semple Thompson.
Champions such as these have always risen to the occasion at Wellesley’s true test of golf. Notably, the club hosted the 1997 WGAM Amateur, won by the Bay State’s Marion Maney McInerney, the 1992 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion.
The club also has played host to numerous MGA state championships, including three MGA Opens: in 1985, the winner was Jim Hallet, the Cape Cod native who went on to the PGA Tour; in 1999, Kevin Quinn, the last amateur to win the event, won in sudden-death with a birdie on the fourth playoff hole; and, in 2010, James Hazen came from three strokes off the pace entering the final round to shoot 67 for a two-stroke margin of victory.
Wellesley’s course history features many renowned golf architects. The first nine-hole course was designed in 1911 by Donald Ross, though his layout is now mostly extinct. Wayne Stiles remodeled Ross’ work and, in 1932, moved into a home he had built adjacent to some Wellesley holes.
The second nine was added in 1961 by Geoffrey Cornish, who kept eight of the original holes while creating 10 more. In 1966, four more new holes were built as four existing weaker holes were eliminated. Additional modifications have been made in recent years by Brian Silva while Mark Mungeam has been retained by the club for nearly the past 10 years to advise on extensive bunker and green renovations.
“My goal is to keep the course playing firm and fast into September,” said Bill Sansone, the club’s director of golf course and grounds operations. “I believe with thick rough and quick greens, Wellesley will be a great test of golf for this USGA event.”
“Contestants will play a par-74 layout ranging from 5,800 to 6,000 yards,” noted Jeff Phillips, Wellesley’s head golf professional. “I’m confident the contestants will find it plays challenging but fair.”
In case you hadn’t heard, one contestant — last year’s U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur runner-up and the Town of Wellesley’s own Pam Kuong — will be making a return visit to the championship. So, mark your calendars for some great golf and a warm welcome at Wellesley Country Club.
Toast Of The Town
It measures just about 1,100 miles from Wellesley to Nashville, host city of the 2015 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur where Pam Kuong finished as runner-up. But this year, her distance to the championship site will be measured in but a few minutes. Kuong, who moved to Wellesley as a youngster, graduated from Wellesley High School in 1979 and is still a resident, will certainly be a hometown favorite at Wellesley Country Club.
Since picking up the game only 20 years ago and entering her first competitive event only 10 years back (the 2007 WGAM Amateur, where she was co-medalist), the now 55-year-old has qualified for a remarkable 18 USGA events.
That tally includes her upcoming sixth trip to the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, where she sports showings of Round of 64 in 2012, Round of 16 in 2013, Round of 32 in 2014 and runner-up in 2015. Over that run, the Charles River Country Club member has prevailed versus some of golf’s all-time best: to wit, in 2014’s Round of 64, she defeated World Golf Hall of Fame member Carol Semple Thompson, 2 and 1; and, in 2015’s Round of 32, Kuong defeated six-time USGA champion Ellen Port, 2 and 1.
In the thrilling final match of the 2015 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur at Hillwood Country Club, Kuong came ever so close to winning her first national title. Facing a 3-down deficit to Karen Garcia coming to the 11th hole of the scheduled 18-hole final, Kuong cut into the lead with a birdie and then added back-to-back birdies on the 14th and 15th to bring the match to all-square. Kuong then won the 16th with a par to take her first lead of the day, 1 up.
“I finally found my swing and played a lot better on the back nine,” said Kuong.
Garcia then won the 17th after Kuong’s second shot found a water hazard.
The match was thus all square coming to the 18th. Kuong carded bogey after missing a 20-foot par putt, and then Garcia won the championship when she drained her uphill four-footer for par.
“I’m so happy for Karen,” said a gracious Kuong. “Karen is a great person, and she deserved it.”
Both Kuong and Garcia received exemptions into the ensuing three editions of the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur.
Thus, you can see both competitors — plus some of amateur golf‘s living legends like Ellen Port, the event’s 2013 and 2014 champion — at Wellesley Country Club, located in that Bay State town just a few minutes down the road from where you’re reading this.