KETTERING, OHIO – When the first USGA Women’s State Team Championship was conducted in 1995, 43 states competed at Lake Buena Vista Club in Florida. The Pennsylvania team of Liz Haines, Judy Oliver and Carol Semple Thompson was the first to be engraved on the Judy Bell Trophy, named for the first female president of the United States Golf Association.
Since that inaugural event, the biennial championship roster has steadily grown, with 51 teams participating in 2007 and 2011. The 2013 championship at NCR Country Club in Kettering, Ohio, marks the first time that all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico will send representatives to the Women’s State Team Championship.
The fact that we have all 52 teams represented this week is a testament to the popularity of this championship, said Judi Lorenzen, a member of the USGA’s Women’s Committee and chairman of the Women’s State Team Championship Committee. These women have the honor of representing their home state in a national championship, something many people never get to experience. They are among the best of the best.
This week, the South Course at NCR C.C. adds a fourth championship to its illustrious USGA history. In 1986, Jane Geddes won the U.S. Women’s Open in a playoff over Sally Little. John Spider Miller took a 1-up victory over Chip Holcomb at the 1998 U.S. Mid-Amateur, while Allen Doyle won the 2005 U.S. Senior Open. The course also hosted the 1969 PGA Championship, which Raymond Floyd won by one stroke over Gary Player.
With the addition of the Women’s State Team to the course’s roster of championships, NCR will showcase its flexibility to accommodate a wide variety of players. The course is playing at 6,153 yards and a par of 73 for the Women’s State Team, while it set up to a par of 71 and stretched to 7,000 yards for the 2005 Senior Open.
It demonstrates the strength and quality of the golf course, said Matt Sawicki, the USGA’s staff-in-charge of the championship. It can have a championship-caliber setup for a wide breadth of players at the highest professional and amateur levels.
Georgia comes into the 2013 championship having taken the last two championship titles, along with its first victory in 2005. Laura Coble, a native of Augusta, Ga., played on all three victorious teams and has made the trip to NCR with hopes for a fourth title.
I love team play and it's a wonderful format, said Coble. It's a celebration of your state. There's always great golf courses we get to play and I've been fortunate to represent our state.
Coble is joined by Mercedes Huarte, a native of Argentina who moved to the United States at age 18 to play college golf, and Brenda Pictor, a six-time winner of the Georgia Senior Women’s Amateur and the stroke-play medalist at the 2011 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur. While the trio may feel some pressure as the two-time defending champions, the veteran Coble knows that there is more to this week than the competition.
It's competitive, but relaxed and friendly, she said. There's a lot of people that we see around at USGA events, so it's great to see friends and familiar faces. We all know that we're going to play golf for three days and just compete as hard as we can.
Beyond the Georgians, this week’s championship field includes a broad array of ages, occupations and backgrounds. Californian Robyn Puckett, the oldest championship competitor at age 66, represented her birth country of Australia at the 1970 Women’s World Amateur Team Championship. The championship’s youngest player – 12-year-old Aneka Seumanutafu, of Hawaii – is a seventh grader who loves to play the ukulele and go to the beach. Mina Hardin, who competed in the 1986 U.S. Women’s Open held at NCR and won the 2010 USGA Senior Women’s Amateur Championship, has played in nearly 40 USGA championships, while 42 women are competing in their first USGA championship.
Other notable players in the field are the mother/daughter duo of Cissye and Kathleen Gallagher (Mississippi), the wife and daughter, respectively, of 1993 USA Ryder Cup Team member Jim Gallagher Jr.; 2004 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Amber Marsh Elliott (North Carolina); Hannah O’Sullivan (Arizona), who qualified for the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open at age 14; four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi (Florida); and Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll (Michigan), who has been the Michigan State women’s golf coach since 1997.
Christina Lance is the USGA's assistant manager of communications. Email her at email@example.com.