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GLOUCESTER, Massachusetts – For years, Concord’s Danielle Lee (Renaissance) has driven by Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield, Connecticut, en route to her brother’s house. She’s always wanted to play the course but has never gotten the chance to.
That all will change soon, as Lee and Westwood’s Sue Curtin (Boston Golf Club) qualified for the 3rd annual U.S. Senior Women’s Open, which will take place at Brooklawn CC. Both players qualified for the Senior Open on Tuesday at Bass Rocks Golf Club as Lee shot a 5-over-par 75 to earn both medalist honors and her first-ever spot in a USGA event.
“This was one of my career golf goals,” said Lee, who represented Team Massachusetts in the Griscom Cup this year. “I was pretty excited. I didn’t believe it until they handed me the medals.”
Lee found herself 6-over through 8 holes but was able to play under-par the rest of the way. Following a birdie on the 9th, she was able to come down the stretch with consecutive birdies on holes 16 and 17.
“I was just in a groove,” Lee said. “I was just focused on hitting the ball and getting it closer to the hole and it helped. I felt pretty good on the back nine. I had a double-bogey on the front, so the birdies made up for that.”
Lee was paired with Sue Curtin and said she’s always looked up to both Curtin and Pam Kuong, the latter of whom was the Mass Golf Senior Women’s Player of the Year in 2020.
“I was looking forward to playing with Sue,” Lee said. “I’m always interested to see how we measure out. We had a really great round together. I’m excited for Sue, and happy we get to go together.”
Curtin has played in USGA events, such as the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball previously, but this will be her first time in the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.
“It’s now hitting me that I’ve actually qualified,” Curtin said. “I know it’s a new event, but the women exempt are the women I grew up watching and idolizing. To compete against them is beyond thrilling.”
One of those women is Amy Alcott, who used to run a charity event to support the fight against multiple sclerosis, the disease that eventually took the life of Curtin’s mother. Curtin’s father always participated in the event.
Curtin almost had the second spot outright, but Johnson forced a playoff with a birdie on the 18th. Curtin ended up edging out Johnson, through two playoff holes (15 and 16). On the 16th, Curtin hit her drive right down the fairway and then struck an 8-iron to 4-feet, which she called her best shot of the day to set up the winning putt.
“I just went into today not putting pressure on myself and just hung in there most of the day,” Curtin said. “To be able to have this opportunity, I can’t believe it.”
QUALIFIERS (Names; Cities)
(a) Danielle Lee (Concord, MA); (+5); 75
(a) Sue Curtin (Westwood, MA); (+6); 76
ALTERNATES (In Order)
Pamela Johnson (Hingham, MA) (+6); 76
Pam Kuong (Wellesley Hills, MA) (+7); 77
–(a) Denotes Amateur
*Won in playoff
The U.S. Women’s Senior Open is still a relatively new event. First contested in 2018, the Championship was won by Laura Davies who shot a 16-under-par 276 to grab a comfortable win. That first open was played at the Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, Illinois.
The next year, victory belonged to Helen Alfredsson who shot a 1-over-par 285 at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club in Southern Pines, North Carolina. In 2020, the event was not held due to the presence of COVID-19.
To be eligible to qualify for the U.S. Senior Women’s Open, females must be 50 years or older, have a handicap index not exceeding 7.4 and the event is open to both amateur and professional golfers.
Located on 112 acres on the coast of East Gloucester, Bass Rocks Golf Club was first established in 1896. Initially, the course was just six holes long and it was laid out by Alex Findlay, a Scottish golfer who worked in sales for a sporting goods company. Originally, Findlay’s creating of the golf course was intended to increase the sale of golf equipment.
“It’s amazing how old the course is and it’s come a long way,” said Peter Hood, General Manager/Director of Golf at Bass Rocks. “When they came up with the idea (to host the qualifier) we thought it was a great way to celebrate the 125th being one of the oldest clubs in the country. We have a very active ladies group which made it even more appetizing for us.”
The first nine-hole course at Bass Rocks was designed by Madison Mott Cannon, the City Engineer in Gloucester. It was in June of 1904 when the nine-hole course was dedicated and the name of the club officially became Bass Rocks. In 1913, the course expanded to include 18 holes, and the design was done by Herbert Corey Leeds.
In 1999, three news holes were constructed the 12th, 13th and 14th holes which had originally sat close to public roads. At that time, the course was also fully irrigated and a practice area was put in. Those changes were spearheaded by Phillip Wogan.
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