ST. LOUIS – Eight universities in the United States will be represented at this week’s Curtis Cup Match by players on both the USA and Great Britain & Ireland sides.
That is not uncommon for this age group of amateur players. What will be interesting, however, is that college teammates at two universities – who normally wear the same uniforms and practice together – will now be facing each other for the greatest bragging rights in all of women’s amateur golf.
The University of Alabama’s Stephanie Meadow will be wearing the team colors for GB&I, while her college teammate and roommate Emma Talley will be playing for the USA Team.
Three Bruin teammates from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) will also find themselves staring across team lines, with Alison Lee and Erynne Lee (no relation) competing for America, while Bronte Law will represent GB&I.
“It’s going to be weird, but we’re pretty good at separating golf and our social lives,” said Meadow, 22, of Northern Ireland, regarding potentially facing Alabama teammate Talley in competition. “We both want to beat each other, but she’ll be my great friend, no matter what.”
Meadow, No. 7 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™, earned the winning point for the GB&I Team at the 2012 Curtis Cup Match at Nairn Golf Club in Scotland. Her point clinched the first victory for GB&I since the 1996 Curtis Cup.
Talley, who has two more years at Alabama, knows her friend and teammate will be tough to beat this week.
“Stephanie is really consistent and she can get up and down from anywhere,” said Talley, 20, of Princeton, Ky., currently ranked No. 18 in the world. “She will put her playing partner in good positions and she is going to grind out there.”
A nine-time collegiate winner, Meadow added her own words of praise for Talley, whom she describes as “very competitive, very composed and always positive.”
While the two Alabama players are not as quick – or as likely – to “smack talk” each other, the banter began weeks ago with the three UCLA players. They even started playing pretend matches with each other – mimicking what they imagine this week will be like if they are paired against each other in Curtis Cup competition.
“When we practice back in LA, we say, ‘This putt is to win the Curtis Cup,’” said Erynne Lee, 21, of Silverdale, Wash., with a laugh. “I think Bronte is 1 up on me in our little matches. She’s a really good match-play player and she likes to make that known.”
Currently ranked No. 38 with three collegiate wins, Lee calls Law “fearless” and knows her UCLA teammate will put up a good fight in any match, whether it’s in California or for real this week in St. Louis.
Alison Lee, 19, of Valencia, Calif., played against Law in the Junior Ryder Cup and the Ping Junior Solheim Cup competitions. Both were freshmen this year at UCLA and became close as the Bruin team’s youngest members.
“Bronte is very dedicated and practices really hard, which inspired me all year,” said Lee, who is currently ranked No. 2 in the world and already has two collegiate wins. “She is a really competitive girl and keeps the spark alive whenever we’re at practice.”
But while the respect is mutual, as soon as each of the players learned they had made their respective Curtis Cup teams, the back-and-forth banter started.
“We’ve been smack-talking for about a month,” admitted Alison Lee. “Erynne and I want to play a match against Bronte and one of her partners because we think it will be a lot of fun.”
Carrie Forsyth, the UCLA coach, says the weeks leading up to the event have been fun for the entire team, not just the three Curtis Cup competitors.
“My three Bruins are very competitive players and they can’t wait for the opportunity to play against or beat the other side,” said Forsyth. “Bronte [Law] brings out the most competitive nature in everyone because she is really outspoken.”
The Bruins also had some recent foul-weather fun as their team prepared for the Pac-12 Conference Tournament. It had not rained in Los Angeles for weeks leading up to their conference tournament in Oregon, and Forsyth wanted to make sure her players were ready for the potential rainy weather.
Forsyth told her players to bring their raingear to practice a week before the trip to Oregon. It was hot and sunny, so the players were puzzled when they were asked to put on their rainsuits halfway through practice. That’s when Forsyth pulled out a water hose and sprayed them down.
“I said, ‘Coach, you don’t have to worry about me; I can play in the rain,’” said Law with a laugh, although she admitted that she hopes this week’s weather forecast for possible rain at the Curtis Cup is wrong.
Law, of Stockport, England, who also was a member of GB&I’s winning side in 2012, expects a “friendly rivalry” this week with her UCLA teammates.
“I know their games and they know how I play,” said Law, 19, currently ranked No. 51. “They’re both really good on the greens and Alison hits the ball a mile.”
Law said her UCLA teammates made her feel welcome this season, which was important for the teenager so far away from her family in England. She describes them as close, and said they have all made each other better college players.
As for this week, Law says there will be some banter and there will be bragging rights to settle, but having experienced the Curtis Cup with her GB&I teammates two years ago, she sees a greater value that will ultimately benefit all three of the Bruin players in the event.
“We’re going through this week together and it’s nice to share the Curtis Cup experience with them, even if they’re on the other side,” said Law. “We might smack-talk a bit, but we’ll have a lot of lasting memories from this week.”
Lisa D. Mickey is a Florida-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.