Wichita, Kan. – Defending U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Martha Leach knows that just because she’s out of college does not mean she cannot play golf anymore. Just ask 15-year-old Alexis Thompson.
All these mid-ams were calling me all week, saying ‘You’ve gotta beat her!’ said Leach of her experience at the Ione D. Jones/Doherty Championship this past January, when she took the wunderkind Thompson to the 18th hole in their semifinal match.
Heading into the showdown with the Hebron, Ky., resident, Thompson, a 2010 USA Curtis Cup selection, had not gone beyond the 14th. In the end, Thompson’s eagle proved too much for Leach’s birdie. However, the statement was made – mid-amateurs (25 and over) can play competitive golf too, even without making the game a full-time profession.
We have different priorities in our lives, the 48-year-old Leach told reporters gathered at Wichita Country Club for 2010 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship media day on May 6. We can’t afford to play in all the tournaments; at least I can’t. But we do the best we can. We are good.
Laura Saf, the championship committee chairman, believes that the Women’s Mid-Amateur is the perfect fit for these career amateurs.
It attracts a unique mix of players: career women, wives, mothers, a variety of ages with a variety of experiences, said Saf.
Leach, the younger sister of six-time USGA champion Hollis Stacy, has her sights set on June 2, where she will attempt to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open at Fox Chapel Golf Club outside Pittsburgh. Fox Chapel was the site of the 2002 Curtis Cup Match.
While she believes that her odds of making the Women’s Open are slim, she does see the event as an opportunity to prepare for her summer schedule – and her attempt at defending her Women’s Mid-Amateur title.
Leach and 131 others will take to the course at Wichita C.C. Sept. 25-30.
These players define the scratch woman player that our Course Rating system is based on, said Championship Director Maggie Giesenhagen, adding that the 132 women over the age of 25 that comprise the championship field drive the ball an average of 210-220 yards from the tee. In preparing the wind-swept Wichita Country Club for this year’s field, Giesenhagen has been tasked with creating a fair, yet challenging, championship course.
Our philosophy in setting up the course is to give the best, fairest test to the players, said Giesenhagen. We want them to use every club in their bag. … I think our biggest challenge here is setting up a fair course where players can use every club in their bag. For me the challenge is going to be the wind.
The Women’s Mid-Amateur marks the third USGA championship conducted at Wichita Country Club and the first since 1969. While the 2010 edition was initially awarded to another club, a proposed course renovation necessitated moving the Women’s Mid-Amateur to an alternate facility.
According to Cary Cozby, Wichita’s chief executive officer and head professional, the club was prepared to host a USGA championship in five to six years. Eighteen months, however, proved more of a challenge.
We have 17 various committees headed by 17 members of the club, said Cozby. They’re doing a tremendous amount of work. You cannot keep up with the amount of e-mails that are going back and forth between everybody. This demonstrates their love for the club and their love for this great game.
Added Giesenhagen: Wichita Country Club really stepped up to the plate for us and said, ‘Yes, we can get our volunteers together.’ We have a special place here in Wichita.
Christina Lance is the coordinator of championship communications at the USGA. E-mail her with questions or comments at email@example.com.