U.S. WOMEN'S MID-AMATEUR
3 Things to Know: Stroke Play September 13, 2019 | FLAGSTAFF, ARIZ. By Ron Driscoll, USGA

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The field for the 33rd U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship will take on the Meadow Course at Forest Highlands Golf Club, a pine-lined Tom Weiskopf design that will play to 6,259 yards and a par of 72. The course, which debuted in 1999 and also hosted the 2014 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, features water on just three holes but is known for its daunting green complexes.

The Air Up There

The Meadow Course sits at 6,995 feet. The higher elevation will undoubtedly impact shots. According to a Titleist study of golf ball aerodynamics in 2017, balls hit at 7,000 feet will typically carry a little over 8 percent farther than at sea level due to the decrease in air density. Contrary to common belief, the ball doesn’t spin any less at elevation, but the trajectory of long shots will be flatter because of a lower lift force. In this video, learn the science behind how high altitude affects golf shots. Players have been using the two practice-round days on Thursday and Friday to get acclimated to the golf course in more ways than one.

Familiar Cast

In the past 10 years of the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, a total of six players have accounted for 14 of the 20 berths in the championship final. Julia Potter-Bobb and Margaret (Shirley) Starosto have made three finals each – including head-to-head matchups in 2013 and 2014, which they split. Defending champion Shannon Johnson and 2017 champion Kelsey Chugg have been in two finals each, along with 2009 champion Martha Leach and Meghan Stasi, who won two of her four titles in 2010 and 2012 (the others were in 2006 and 2007).

The three most recent champions – Johnson, Chugg and Potter-Bobb – are grouped together for stroke play and are scheduled to start at noon off No. 10 on Saturday. Another featured group includes Stasi, 2015 champion Lauren Greenlief and Sue Wooster of Australia, who two weeks ago finished as the runner-up for the second straight year to Lara Tennant in the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur. Tennant gave up her exemption into this championship due to a family scheduling conflict. Of the 132 players in the field, nearly half (64) competed in last year’s championship at Norwood Hills Country Club in St. Louis.

Weather Alert

The conditions for the two days of practice rounds at Forest Highlands were ideal, with high temperatures of 80 degrees, light breezes and low humidity. The outlook for Round 1 on Saturday also looks promising, but players with afternoon starting times for Sunday’s second round of stroke play may face the most challenging conditions of all four “waves” of weekend play. Ben Woods of ThorGuard Weather, the USGA’s on-site meteorologist, is putting the chance of showers or storms at 60 percent for Sunday afternoon, likely to be accompanied by stronger southwest winds than at any other time over the two days – gusts are expected to reach well over 20 miles an hour. Afternoon starters battling to make the top 64 for match play may find the elements not in their favor.

Ron Driscoll is the senior manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at rdriscoll@usga.org.

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