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NORTON, Massachusetts – The 59th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship begins Friday, September 10 at The Lakewood Club (5,846 yards, par-72) in Point Clear, Alabama. Mass Golf will have five players heading South to compete in the Championship Proper.
Pam Kuong (Charles River Country Club), the 2015 runner-up in the championship, leads a group of five: Sue Curtin (Boston Golf Club), Kristen Henderson (Bed Rock Golf Club), Danielle Lee (Renaissance), and Tracy Welch (Winchester Country Club).
Established in 1962, the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship features a 36-hole stroke play format followed by 64 players making it into match play. The Championship is open to any female golfer who is 50 years of age by September 12 and whose handicap index does not exceed 14.4.
Playing in a USGA Championship is a common goal for many amateur golfers in their careers. It’s a testament to a player’s dedication to the game and their ability to compete at a high level. What’s special about the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur this year when it comes to Massachusetts is that all five women who will be competing in Alabama have USGA experience.
Tracy Welch, Sue Curtin, and Pam Kuong all have a bevy of experience competing in USGA events. Kristen Henderson will be playing in her third consecutive Senior Women’s Amateur and Danielle Lee is now playing in her second USGA championship after competing in the U.S. Senior Women’s Open alongside Curtin back in July.
“At the beginning of the year, I set a goal to qualify for my first USGA event and I was really happy to achieve that twice this year,” Lee said. “When I qualified for the U.S. Senior Women’s open, I had no expectations. However, when I qualified for the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, I felt more pressure because I felt like I had to prove to myself that the first one wasn’t just luck.”
Lee certainly proved her first time through was no fluke and now she gets to experience the rush that comes with competing in a USGA championship for the second time in just over a month.
“I’m hoping that my experience from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open will help me get off to a faster start and play a little less tentatively than I did before,” Lee said. “I realize that these are special opportunities and there’s no guarantee that I’ll ever get back here, so I want to play to my best when I have the chance.”
Like Lee, Henderson put some pressure on herself in terms of actually qualifying for the Senior Women’s Amateur this year. She wanted to keep her streak of playing in the Championship Proper for consecutive years going and she survived a playoff at her qualifier to do so.
“I hope that over the last couple of years I’ve learned enough to settle myself, take deep breaths, and calm myself down,” Henderson said of playing. ” Your heart definitely is racing a lot when you play in these events and it’s very overwhelming because it’s just a level above anything that I’ve ever played in before. The level of competition, these women are just incredible.”
Tracy Welch has been living out some family history this summer, and she’ll do it again down in Alabama for this event. Her mother, Jane Faxon Welch competed in the Women’s Senior Amateur in 2000 and 2006, and now Tracy will play in it for the first time.
“I don’t know how many mother-daughter pairs who have competed in the Senior Amateur because it’s only been around since the 1960s,” Welch said. “What’s cool is my dad, Wade Welch, caddied for her in both of those events. My dad has caddied for me in nearly all of the USGA Championships I’ve played in, so he’ll be back out there with me as my caddie and I think it’s really fun because of how many men have caddied for a wife and a daughter at this event.”
Welch said playing in USGA events is spoiling, fondly recalling a 1991 practice round with hall of farmer Annika Sorenstam before the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
“Annika at the time was the reigning NCAA Champion,” Welch said. “It was a little intimidating for my first U.S. Women’s Amateur, obviously I knew that she was good, but who knew she was going to go on to be one of the greatest players of all time.”
As the 2021 event approaches, there will certainly be no shortage of opportunities for the Mass ladies to make some new and lasting memories once again this year.
“The state of senior women’s golf is strong, but it’s always been strong with people like Mary Gale, Christine Gagner, and others that have also represented Mass Golf at USGA events in other years,” Lee said. “I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to be part of the team representing Mass Golf at the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur for 2021.”
The full schedule of play for the Championship is as follows:
Club: Boston Golf Club
How She Got In: Shot a 76 at Marshfield Country Club on August 3 to finish solo second and earn her spot in the Championship Proper
Tee Time: 8:50 a.m. off Hole 1
Club: Bed Rock Golf Club
How She Got In: Shot an 81 at Marshfield Country Club on August 3 and won in a playoff by birdieing the first playoff hole to advance to the Championship Proper
Tee Time: 9:00 a.m. off Hole 10
Club: Charles River Country Club
How She Got In: Exempt due to being top 30 in the age-eligible points leaders for the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking
Tee Time: 8:10 a.m. off Hole 1
How She Got In: Shot a 79 at Marshfield Country Club on August 3rd to finished solo third and earn a spot in the Championship Proper
Tee Time: 1:55 p.m. off Hole 10
Club: Winchester Country Club
How She Got In: Shot 3-under-par 70 at Marshfield Country Club on August 3rd to earn medalist honors and a spot in the Championship Proper
Tee Time: 12:35 p.m. off Hole 1
Before play begins on September 10, get to know a little bit more about the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur and the history of the Championship event.
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