2024 U.S. Senior Women's Open Qualifying - Captains GC - MASSGOLF

Massachusetts Amateurs Tracy Welch & Pam Kuong Advance; Laura Shanahan Rowe Continues Qualifying streak

By Steve Derderian

BREWSTER, Massachusetts (June 17, 2024) – In a field full of international talent at Captains Golf Course, three New Englanders emerged as qualifiers for the 6th U.S. Senior Women’s Open via Monday’s 18-hole qualifying event.

Winchester’s Tracy Welch (The Country Club), a two-time Mass Women’s Amateur champion, stood far above the field with a score of 2-over-par 74 to earn both medalist and low amateur honors. Pam Kuong (Charles River Country Club), also a two-time Mass Women’s Amateur winner, qualified for the second straight year. She finished 5-over 77, matching New Hampshire pro Laura Shanahan Rowe, who made it a perfect 6-for-6 in her bids to qualify for the Championship.

The competition, for females 50 and older, is open to any professional or amateur whose Handicap Index does not exceed 7.4. Captains also hosted qualifying for the U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Girls’ Junior Amateur. A recap of both events will be posted later today. 

Online: U.S. Senior Women’s Open Qualifying | Photo Gallery | USGA Events 

Tracy Welch has now qualified for more than two dozen USGA Championships, but this will be her first U.S. Senior Women’s Open. Welch was fresh out of college when she made her debut against top-level professionals in the 1993 U.S. Women’s Open. That year, Helen Alfredsson and Donna Andrews finished second place, and now they’re among many legends who regularly compete in the U.S. Senior Women’s Open. Welch also made the cut in the 1997 PING/Welch’s Championship at Blue Hill Country Club, where she was tied and nearly paired up with Hall of Famer Betsy King.

Nearly three decades later, Welch will be back competing among the some of the game’s icons.

“This has been my goal to play in this one,” said Welch, who said her family helped encourage her to give it another shot after coming up short last year. “My daughter Amanda Adams inspires me to practice. She played in Girls’ Junior Qualifying today, and my mom [Jane Faxon Welch] said go for it; we want to go to Fox Chapel. My husband grew up in Pittsburgh, so I know this will be close to his home.”

Welch settled into a rhythm early, making a birdie on the par-5 8th to get to even-par. Though the winds picked up as the morning progressed, Welch made timely par saves and added another birdie on the 14th to get back to even, providing plenty of cushion to qualify.

“I was hitting it straight, and I was planning it pretty well,” Welch said. “I liked the course a lot, and I was always hitting my irons well.”


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Laura Shanahan Rowe didn’t make it easy on herself trying to keep her streak of qualifying for every U.S. Senior Women’s Open since the event began in 2018. Shanahan Rowe was 6-over on her first five holes, with four bogeys and a double. At the turn, she was 7-over 43 and looking like a long shot.

But sometimes, motivation for the turnout can be as simple as the ball marker in your pocket. Her playing partner Natalie Galligan recalled her 1999 New England Women’s Amateur win when she shot 5-over 40 on the front nine before making six birdies to shoot 30 on the back nine and win it. That event was at Torrington Country Club, and in Shanahan’s pocket was a Torrington ball marker.

In Galligan fashion, Shanahan carded a bogey-free 2-under 34 on the back nine, hitting her tee shot on the par-3 17th to 3 feet and making the putt to qualify on the number at 5-over 77.

“I said if Natalie can do it, I can do it,” Shanahan Rowe said. “I knew that maybe I could make some birdies and get some of that back, and that happened, and that keeps you in it. I just got a little charged up in the beginning and maybe too aggressive, and it cost me.”

Shanahan Rowe, whose best finish was T19 in the 2019 U.S. Senior Women’s Open, hopes to make a cut but is most satisfied with being on the short list of players to compete in every championship. She won the 2001 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship and hopes to add a USGA pro win to her storied resume.

“It’s been a goal for me, and this is really the only event I can do it,” she said. “I’m incredibly thrilled again. It was a grind, and I didn’t start off very well, but I kept at it, and it worked out. ”

Pam Kuong also had moments of doubt throughout her round. Though she was 2-over on the back nine, which was playing about half a stroke more difficult, she made a double bogey on the first hole and stood at 7-over with just three to go.

Worried she had played herself out of it, she got encouragement from her caddie and close friend Doug Clapp that a few birdies could change things around. He was right. By making birdie on the 7th and 8th holes, Kuong climbed back to 5-over and, with a closing par, earned her second straight trip to the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

Kuong, the reigning Mass Women’s Senior Player of the Year, missed the cut last year but has plenty of experience on the national and international stage. Among her strong appearances, she made the final match of the 2015 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, and last year was 4th place in the R&A’s Women’s Senior Amateur.

Pam Kuong and Doug Clapp are a formidable duo, having won the Mass Mixed Four-Ball twice together. (Teddy Doggett)


a-Tracy Welch (Winchester, MA); (+2) 74

Laura Shanahan Rowe (Hampton, NH); (+5) 77

a-Pam Kuong (Wellesley Hills, MA); (+5) 77


*Susan Bond Philo (Vero Beach, FL); (+6) 78

a-Susan Curtin (Westwood, MA); (+6) 78

*Earned spot with par on 1st playoff hole.

a-: Denotes amateur

About The U.S. Senior Women’s Open

The U.S. Senior Women’s Open was established in 2018, 38 years after the inaugural U.S. Senior Open was first contested. Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, Ill., one of the five founding clubs of the USGA, hosted the inaugural championship. The field of 120 players included some of the game’s greatest players, including eight-time USGA champion JoAnne Carner, six-time USGA champion Hollis Stacy, five-time USGA champion Juli Inkster and the eventual champion Laura Davies, of England, winner of the 1987 U.S. Women’s Open.

The field also featured a bevy of amateur golfers with plenty of USGA pedigree, including seven-time champion Ellen Port, 2017 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion Judith Kyrinis, inaugural U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Cindy McConnell (1987) and 2009 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Martha Leach, who took home low-amateur honors while tying for 10th.

In its short history, the championship has produced several notable winners, including the aforementioned Davies (2018), Helen Alfredsson (2019) and Annika Sorenstam (2021).

The 6th annual U.S. Senior Women’s Open will take place August 1-4 at Fox Chapel Golf Club in Pittsburgh.

About Captains Golf Course

Owned and operated by the town of Brewster, Captains Golf Course is one of the most popular public golf course facilities in the mid-Cape Cod region. According to the club, approximately 90,000 rounds are played each year between its two 18-hole courses — Starboard and Port.

Brian Silva designed both courses as part of the Geoffrey S. Cornish and Brian Silva golf architecture firm. Cornish reportedly walked the grounds back in 1973, but the course wasn’t approved for construction until a decade later. The first 18 holes at Captains opened in 1985, and in 1999, another 18 holes was opened. The Boston Globe reported that Captains was created for $950,000, less than half of the typical price at the time. However, Silva said was quoted as saying that “Nothing chintzy [cheaply made] went into Captains, and he, “personally spent more than four hours on each hole meticulously seeding the contours into each fairway.”

“They had to move some earth here and there, but the majority of the holes out there are the natural lay of the land,” said Jay Packett, a 23-year club employee, who became the Director of Operations at Captains in January 2021.

As a result of its efforts, Captains was recognized in 1985 as Golf Digest’s Best New Public Course in the United States. If you’re curious of the original routing of the course, the front nine featured Starboard holes 1, 14, 17, 13, 12, 18, 10, 11 and 9; and the back nine is Port holes 1, 2, 7-11, and 18.

The club also hosted qualifying for the 2022 U.S. Senior Amateur Championship, as well as the 2018 Mass Four-Ball Championship and 2023 Mass Senior Four-Ball Championship.

Captains Golf Course is the only Cape Cod municipal golf course with 36 holes on its property. (Teddy Doggett)