Fans gear up for USWA; volunteers still needed

Old Waverly Golf Club (courtesy image)
Staff Writer

In just three weeks, some of the world’s best amateur women’s golfers will descend on West Point and the Golden Triangle.

That means area residents have a number of ways they can help make the U.S. Women’s Amateur, one of the oldest golf championships in the world, a special experience not only for the golfers but also themselves.

One of the best ways is to volunteer, especially early in the week when the golfers are playing the early qualifying rounds.

“That’s when the course most needs help and players most need help,” said Jeffrey Rupp, one of those helping organize the tournament, which kicks off with practice rounds at Old Waverly Aug. 3 and Aug. 4. “It’s a real experience for golfers and non-golfers alike.”

Volunteer days start Monday, Aug. 5 with the first stroke play round. That continues Aug. 6 with another day of stroke play qualifying.

The top 64 advance to match play starting Aug. 7.

Walking scorers, forecaddies, and general volunteers are needed those days. In addition to being up close with the golfers, and helping the community, volunteers et a free round of golf at Old Waverly.

Call Old Waverly or go to to volunteer and find more information.

Area golfers also should not Old Waverly will close Monday, July 29 so crews can begin final preparations for the tournament. Golfers who store their clubs at Old Waverly should pick them up by Friday, July 26, if they are going to need them. The course will reopen for one day, Aug. 12, giving golfers a chance to test their skills against the set up for the U.S. Women’s Amateur.

Verification will begin Aug. 13.

For golf fans and non-fans alike, admission to the tournament is free. Complimentary tickets, which are good all week, are available at the Old Waverly golf shop.

Considered the most prestigious event in all of women's amateur golf, the U.S. Amateur boasts an impressive roster of past winners including Hall of Famers Beth Daniel and Juli Inkster, the winner of the 1999 US Women's Open at Old Waverly, as well as current LPGA stars Danielle Kang,  Morgan Pressel and Lydia Ko. 

It was established in 1895, one month after the men's U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open. It is the third oldest USGA championship, over a half century older than the U.S. Women's Open, which was first played in 1946.

Since 1896 the Robert Cox Cup has been awarded annually by the USGA to the winner. The trophy was donated by Robert Cox of Edinburgh, Scotland, a member of the British Parliament and a golf course designer. It remains the oldest surviving trophy awarded for a USGA championship. Along with a gold medal, a replica of the 2-foot-high silver case of Etruscan design is given to the tournament winner.

Several thousand women now enter the event, and the USGA conducts sectional qualifying to reduce the number of contestants to a more manageable number. The main tournament opens with two rounds of stroke play. The leading 64 players then compete in a match play competition. The matches are played over 18 holes except for the final, which is played over 36 holes.

In 1956, Ann Gregory became the first African American to compete in the Championship.

There are no age restrictions on entry. Players must have a handicap index of 5.4 or less. Morgan Pressel qualified as a 13-year-old in 2001 and won in 2005 at the age of 17. The 2006 winner Kimberly Kim was only 14 years old, breaking the record previously held by Laura Baugh. In 2007, Pearl Jin and Alexis Thompson became the first 12-year-olds to qualify and the first to advance to match play. Jin and Thompson faced one another in the third round match play. Thompson beat Jin, but then lost in the quarterfinals.

An 11-year-old has qualified this year.

Because the tournament is dominated by teenagers and college-age players who are working toward careers as tournament professionals, the USGA introduced a separate tournament in 1987 for players age 25 and over, called the U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur. It gives older amateur players an opportunity to compete among themselves for a national title.