Alaska Represents at the WAPL

Susan Gatewood of Anchorage, Alaska, at the ninth hole during the first round of stroke-play qualifying on Monday at the 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links at Neshanic Valley G.C. (Hunter Martin/USGA)

By Cassandra Stein, USGA
June 18, 2012

Neshanic Station, N.J. – Beaches, pools and golf weather.  That’s the perception of Florida.

Cold, snow and igloos. That’s what most people think of Alaska. 

But this week at the 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links three women from the 49th state, Terri McAngus, of Eagle River, and Pamela Chesla and Susan Gatewood, of Anchorage, are trying to show Alaskans can also excel in a summer-time activity.

Alaska is the only state without a private course, so everyone who plays golf does so on  public layouts. Even practice is hard because snow covers the ground for some eight months out of the year. That makes Alaska the state with the shortest golf season.

“There are a lot of simulators, or video screens you can play on,” said Chesla. “So, if it’s the middle of December, I can go and play Pebble Beach if I want to.” 

Even for the WAPL qualifier, the greens at the Palmer Golf Course were not completely in shape. The course had to use temporary greens due to the record snowfall in the state this year. 

During the summer, it is still not the most ideal place to practice. Alaska might be the only state with golf until midnight, but the many driving ranges don’t have sufficient short-game facilities.

“It’s very insufficient to try and go putt and chip, which are key aspects of the game,” said McAngus. “You just have to make do with what you got.”

After the 2012 championship season, Alaska will also be the only state to have never hosted a USGA championship (Utah and New Hampshire are leaving that list this summer after hosting the Amateur Public Links and U.S. Junior Amateur, respectively). That should make Alaska golfers yearn to have a national championship even more.

Jamie Berge, Alaska’s representative on the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship Committee, is at Neshanic Valley Golf Course this week to hopefully convince USGA officials that a USGA event should be conducted in the state. For Alaska to host such a major event, the state would need grant money. The championship would also need to be contested later in the season because the courses need time to soak in all of the water from the spring thaw.

“We would love to host a tournament,” said Gatewood. “And hopefully, it’s soon.” 

For now, Alaska will need to make do with what it has in state pride, which are three Alaska golfers qualifying for a USGA national championship.

Cassandra Stein is the USGA’s communications intern. E-mail her at 

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