The West Course at Westchester Country Club hosts one of the longest, hardest tournaments in women’s golf next week. It’s the 121st U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, and it stretches from two rounds of medal play on Monday and Tuesday through six rounds of match play concluding with a 36-hole final on Sunday.
Playing at 6,488 yards and par 72, the course will provide a sturdy test for the women with its undulating terrain and strongly contoured greens. The players will face firm, fast, narrow fairways protected by lush, three-inch primary rough, not to mention deep fescue and rocky outcroppings.
“You have to be accurate with your drives because the rough is super penal,” says reigning U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Champion Ina Kim-Schaad, who will be in the field. “The greens, even though they are large, are very firm and very fast. You can’t even be pin-high. You have to stay below the hole to have a chance. It’s a real shot-maker’s course. You need a good short game, too, because if you miss the green, it’s really hard to get up and down.”
The West Course was a PGA Tour stop for over 40 years. Winners include Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Johnny Miller, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, and Padraig Harrington. Most recently, it hosted the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, won by Inbee Park.
The field of 156 players is made up of the best women amateur golfers from around the world as well as close to Westchester. In addition to Kim-Schaad, who is from Rhinebeck, players include Megha Ganne, of Holmdel, NJ, who was the low amateur in the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open; Kelly Sim, of Edgewater, NJ; Angelina Tolentino, Mount Laurel, NJ; and Lauren Peter, Carmel.
Ganne says she has played the course once and expects it to be quite a challenge. “Ball striking, putting, and course management have to be perfect. There are a lot of birdie-able holes but you can make a nine on them real quick, too.”
As usual, the nines will be reversed for the championship, which will heighten the excitement of the match play format. Director of Golf Ben Hoffine says, “The finishing holes will be very interesting. Fifteen is a very difficult par four, 16 is a difficult par three, then you have two birdie holes to finish in 17 and 17. If matches come down to the last two, you’ll see some fireworks.”
The USGA will use a lot of different tees and hole locations. It’s expected that the 10th hole will be drive-able for longer hitters, and the 12th is a very reachable par five from a carefully placed tee shot. Hoffhine points out that players will have a decision to make on hole 15, a long par four with a dog-leg right protected by a large tree. “Even with a good drive, the second shot will require a hybrid or long iron. It’s a blind shot, too, and the green is one of the most difficult on the course.”
The championship was first played in 1895. It was held at Westchester CC in 1923, and was won by Edith Cummings. Notable champions from the tournament history include Lydia Ko, Morgan Pressel, Juli Inkster, Babe Didrickson Zaharias, and Patty Berg.
Spectators are welcome at the championship. Admission is free and no ticket is required.