San Antonio – The Spurs may be the biggest show in town this spring, but come October, this Texas river city will turn into a golf town. While the top-seeded team from the Western Conference breezed into the second round of the National Basketball Association’s playoffs, members of Briggs Ranch Golf Club, including former Spurs forward Bruce Bowen, will welcome 132 players ages 25 and up for the 26th U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Oct. 6-11.
The Women’s Mid-Amateur might be the first USGA championship conducted at Briggs Ranch, but the course has already been a sectional qualifying site for the U.S. Junior Amateur and USGA Senior Amateur.
On May 16, Anthony Rodriguez of San Antonio shot 63 to lead a group of six local qualifiers for the 2012 U.S. Open. More than six inches of rain fell in the week preceding the qualifier helping to soften course conditions, but the USGA’s director of the Women’s Mid-Amateur, Donna Mummert, said the course will likely play much differently in October. if summer weather patterns hold true for southern Texas.
“If we get normal weather patterns … I’d expect the course to play firm and fast for the championship,” said Mummert at media day on May 11. “Briggs Ranch has some generous fairways, but with the thick rough, difficult green complexes and gusty winds in the fall, we think it to be a real challenge for the players.”
Briggs Ranch Golf Club was designed in 2002 by Tom Fazio and is currently ranked as the Best Residential Course in Texas by Golfweek magazine. The private club on the western edge of San Antonio will play 6,142 yards (par 72) for the championship.
“We're trying to build the best product we can build,” said Gil Hodge, owner of Briggs Ranch. “You need some events to showcase it, as we've done in the past with the NCAA [regionals] and a couple of other tournaments we've had here. We’re excited to be involved with the USGA and are really looking forward to this fall.”
The Women’s Mid-Am returns to Texas for the second time in just seven years, but it is the first national championship for San Antonio since the 2001 U.S. Junior Amateur and 2001 U.S. Amateur Public Links were conducted at Oak Hills Country Club and Pecan Valley Golf Club, respectively.
The Valero Texas Open, won this April by Ben Curtis, and Champions Tour’s AT&T Championship are also played in San Antonio.
Last year, Ellen Port of St. Louis, Mo., won her record fourth U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur on the day after her 50th birthday, defeating longtime friend and past champion Martha Leach, 2 and 1, in the championship match at Bayville Golf Club in Virginia Beach, Va.
Port was introduced to the game late, at age 24, by her husband, Andy, but has established quite a record for herself in the Midwest. Port has won seven Missouri State Amateurs and 13 St. Louis Metropolitan Amateurs in addition to her Women’s Mid-Amateur titles, all while raising two children and serving as both a teacher and coach at John Burroughs School in her native St. Louis.
“I love everything about being a USGA champion,” said Port. “I know at my age I can’t go out and practice for hours and hours anymore, but I’ve played a lot of matches and once the competitive juices get flowing I’ll be ready to go. I’m very excited to try to do it again.”
The U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted by the USGA. Sectional qualifiers are scheduled at 25 sites across the country between Aug. 23 and Sept. 11.
Michael Trostel is the curator/historian for the USGA Museum. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.