Caroline Hodge competes in the 2017 US Women’s Amateur Championship
Curtis Cup Comes to Quaker Ridge
ne of the most exciting events in golf — for either gender — will be played at Quaker Ridge GC in Scarsdale June 8-10. It’s the biennial Curtis Cup Match, a contest between two teams of eight female amateur golfers, one team from the US and one from Great Britain and Ireland.
If you say it sounds like the Walker Cup, you’d be right. If you think it will provide excellent golf and compellingly dramatic competition, you’d be right about that, too. As event co-chair Beth Post points out, “The Curtis Cup is a launching pad for many amateur golfers to play in the LPGA. It is a real test of an individual’s golf ability against the best in the sport.”
The Curtis Cup helped launch the professional careers of top competitors like Paula Creamer, Juli Inkster, Cristie Kerr, Michelle Wie, Stacy Lewis, and Lexi Thompson. The US holds a 28-8-3 record in the competition, which began in 1932.
It was last played in Westchester in 1978 at Apawamis Club, and the US won 12-6. GB&I are the defending champions, having won the cup in 2016 at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club in Enniskerry, Ireland, 11½ to 8½.
GBI players during Curtis Cup practice at Quaker Ridge CC
Quaker Ridge has hosted numerous notable events, including three Met Opens and the 1997 Walker Cup. It’s one of only three courses in the US to host both the Walker and Curtis Cups. The A.W. Tillinghast course will be played at about 6,200 yards at par 70.
U.S. team captain Virginia Derby Grimes says, “Quaker Ridge is a wonderful course for the Curtis Cup. It has a very good mix of holes, and the greens are tough to putt. I know A.W. Tillinghast is smiling because the Curtis Cup is going to be played on one of his golf courses.”
Post, a Quaker Ridge member, believes the course is a perfect venue for a women’s golf championship. “The course is known for its very difficult par 4s and necessitates accuracy from the tee,” she says, “and this suits the women’s game.”
The format includes foursomes and four-ball matches on Friday and Saturday, followed by eight singles matches on Sunday. One point is awarded for each victory and a half-point for ties. GB&I needs 10 points to keep the cup, while the US must compile 10.5 to reclaim it. Fox Sports will broadcast the competition, and admission for spectators is free, although registration at 2018CurtisCup.org is requested.
The Westchester Eagles celebrate second place in the 2017 EWGA Cup. Left to right: Linda Tankoos, Amy Bender, Linda Stillwell, Sherri Wilson, Pat Antoncic, Shirleen Dubuque, Nina Salzman, Joy Passalacqua, Jane Geddes EWGA
Westchester EWGA Celebrates 20 Years
One of the most welcoming groups for women golfers in the county, the EWGA (Executive Women’s Golf Association), a group dedicated to helping women learn, play, and enjoy the game, recently announced a national alliance with the LPGA. The Westchester EWGA chapter, one of more than 100 in the nation, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. As President Lisa Brady explains, “You can get together, have fun, and it’s not so much about taking home the prize as it is about camaraderie among the women.”
The 250 members play in weekly golf leagues organized by playing ability, weekday and weekend open play leagues, as well as more than 30 other events and 15 different education clinics and lessons throughout the season. “About 20% of the membership are competitive golfers who keep score, maintain a handicap, and like the competitive atmosphere,” Brady says.
But the EWGA is not just for accomplished golfers. There are clinics and group lessons as well as organized events with other newbies that help ease rookies into golf. Brady points out, “We have relationships with pro golfers throughout the county who work with individuals and small groups to teach them skills.”
Members play at both public and private courses, including Westchester Hills CC, Hampshire CC, Saxon Woods, Dunwoodie, and Doral GC.
How to Hit it Long
The long ball may not determine the ultimate score for women or men, but a good drive is critical to setting up your approach shot to the green. Apawamis Club Director of Instruction Monique Thoresz suggests working on three keys to good driving: alignment, centered contact, and angle of attack.
1. Check your shoulders to make sure they are parallel
to the target line.
2. Even if you have to choke up, work on hitting
the ball in the middle of the clubface.
3. Since you want the driver to catch the ball on
the upswing, position the ball opposite your left
foot and tilt your spine to keep your right
shoulder lower than your left.
WMGA Grows Golf
The Women’s Metropolitan Golf Association (WMGA) is creating more paths for women to the game. The 119-year-old organization headquartered in Elmwood has committed to several initiatives, not only to introduce young girls to golf but also to make it more accessible for adults.
“Women don’t take up the game on their own. They need an invitation to try it,” says WMGA director of operations Sarah Relyea. “We love to see more young and middle-aged women coming into the game.”
“We love to see more young and middle-aged women coming into the game.”
Last year, the WMGA introduced “independent membership” for women who don’t belong to one of the 190 golf clubs that support the organization. Independent members can play in any non-club-team WMGA event. Relyea points out it’s a good way for the independent members to get to know other players and compete on some of the top courses in the metro region. In addition, “We give WMGA memberships to players who might be able to play college golf. We also help them with caddie fees and things like that in our tournaments,” Relyea explains. “They’re also aligned with WMGA mentors, so they have some great touch points like helping them get noticed by college”
The WMGA will stage around 30 events this year, as well as an extensive schedule of inter-club team matches. One of the year’s highlights is the WMGA/MGA Women’s Met Amateur Championship that will be held at St. Andrew’s in Hastings on June 11.
How to Get Into Golf
1. Visit a golf range, grab a free club from the bin, spend a couple of bucks on a bucket of balls, and take a few swings. Not as easy as it looks on TV, is it? But what a great feeling when you send one sailing!
2. Get together with some friends — or make some new ones — at a group clinic. Golf is the friendliest, most social game on the planet.
3. Take a lesson. You’ll be surprised how much you improve with just a few tips from a professional. That doesn’t include your husband or significant other, by the way. Sorry, they’re not experts!
4. Don’t splurge on equipment. You probably don’t want to spend $1,000 on clubs to start, so consider inexpensive starter sets like those offered by TourEdge, priced around $250, including a bag.
5. Get in the game. Join a group like the EWGA, recruit some friends, or make a tee time for yourself at one of the county’s public courses. The best way to get the most out of golf is to play it!
Golf Path to College
One of golf’s growth areas is college golf, especially for women. Ambry Bishop, coach of the St. John’s University women’s golf team for 13 years and assistant pro at St. Andrew’s GC in Hastings, answered our questions about the sport and opportunities for young women golfers.
Coach Ambry Bishop, left.
Q: How has women’s golf changed at the college level?
A: The level of competition has greatly improved. Today, a team needs four good scores to contend: two in the low 70s and none higher than the mid-70s. Gone are the days when breaking 80 was good enough.
Q: What challenges does the college player face?
A: It’s pretty much a full-time job to compete in Division I athletics. They typically take classes in the morning, and the afternoon is consumed with practice. The St. John’s team practices at St. Andrews GC, so the team takes a van between the Long Island campus and the course in Westchester.
Q: Is golf still a good route to scholarships for women?
A: Title IX has helped us out, and there are scholarship opportunities, although it’s not automatic anymore because there are more kids in contention. A full-ride scholarship can be worth nearly $60,000 a year at a school like St. John’s.
Q: How should a high school player prepare for a college career?
A: One of the bigger adjustments from junior golf to college golf is playing longer courses. You’re also going to have bad weather in the fall and spring, so conditions are different from the junior tournaments played in the summer. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of working on your short game, because your ball striking is not going to be perfect. Try to qualify for the US Amateur or your state amateur. Playing with older golfers will help you prepare for college golf.