Marchese Sets Unbreakable Record at Women’s State Team September 27, 2017 | SANTA FE, N.M. By Tom Mackin

Susan Marchese, of Nebraska, is the only player to compete in all 12 USGA Women's State Team Championships. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

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It’s not so much the golf that Susan Marchese recalls from the first of her record-12 consecutive appearances in the USGA Women’s State Team Championship.

It’s the outfits. Or, in the case of her Nebraska team, the lack thereof.

“Some states came in with matching clothes, hats and bags,” she recalled about that first championship in 1995 at Lake Buena Vista (Fla.) Club. “We didn’t even think about that since we were so excited to just make the team. We had maybe one matching shirt, and then we bought another one at the course.”

With those apparel concerns long since set aside, the 56-year-old can focus solely on golf during the final Women’s State Team at The Club at Las Campanas. But she considered not making the trip from her home in Omaha, almost passing on the opportunity to make history as the only person to have played in every single Women’s State Team Championship.  

“I was going to say I’m done with this championship because 6,200 yards is a long course for me,” said Marchese, who shot a 9-over-par 81 in Round 1 on Tuesday. “But since it’s the last year, I just couldn’t not go. That would have been kind of silly.”

Marchese’s first USGA championship was the 1978 Girls’ Junior at Wilmington (Del.) Country Club. She went on to play in more than 25 others, highlighted by a Round-of-16 appearance in the the 1983 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J.

“I carried my bag during the practice rounds, stroke play and match play there,” she said. “I just ran out of steam. It was the stupidest thing I ever did.”

Marchese, who is vice president at Omaha Neon Sign Company, a business owned by her father, Sam, since 1966, has been much more successful in her home state.

Earlier this year, she won the Nebraska Women’s Senior Amateur by 25 strokes, her seventh win in the past eight years, and has won 18 Nebraska Women’s Amateur titles. She is a member of the Omaha Duchesne Hall of Fame, the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame and the Nebraska Golf Hall of Fame.

She’s joined this week at Las Campanas by Maryann Meier, her former teammate on the University of Oklahoma’s 1981 Big 8 Conference championship team.

“Maryann always wanted to caddie for me,” said Marchese, whose sister Debbie Conry is in her 26th season as the women’s golf coach at Creighton University in Omaha. “So I told her about this opportunity and she said she would love to.”

Marchese, whose mother, Betty, introduced her to golf, has warm memories of the Women’s State Team courses, including Woodhill Golf Club in Wayzata, Minn.

“Oh my God, that was a great little tucked-away secret,” she said of the 2001 host site. “The Men’s State Team [was being played at nearby] Hazeltine National Golf Club. Then I talked to some friends who lived near Woodhill and they said, ‘You have a gem.’ I would never have played there or at a lot of the great places that the USGA has allowed us to play.” 

A fan of older, more traditional courses, Marchese loved playing at Wellesley Country Club in Wellesley Hills, Mass., in 2003. “I thought it was really quaint, cool and had a lot of history,” she said of the venue that hosted the 2016 U.S. Senior Women's Amateur.

“The Landings Club (in Savannah, Ga.) was also a great experience in 2011 because the people there really got involved. We stayed in private housing with a couple, and the husband grew up in Nebraska. They took us under their wing. It was really nice.”

But when Marchese looks back over her Women’s State Team experiences, it won’t be the scores (Nebraska’s best finish is 13th in 1995), the courses or apparel issues that she thinks about the most. Instead, it will be her many teammates.

“A lot of them had never played in a USGA championship before this one, so I have thoroughly enjoyed watching their first time through their eyes,” she said. “It gives me chills just talking about it. They were so excited and happy to be there. They lit up when they saw their name on a locker. You can’t describe to someone what’s it like to go to a USGA championship for the first time. While we didn’t always have a great shot to win this thing, or even to make the cut, it was more about the camaraderie. It’s been priceless to see how fun it was to watch my friends and teammates to light up like that.”

Tom Mackin is an Arizona-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to USGA websites.

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