U.S. WOMEN'S MID-AMATEUR
Notebook: Proteau’s Round Not Prototypical September 5, 2014 By Ron Driscoll, USGA

Christina Proteau posted a 7-over 79 in Saturday's first round. (USGA/Fred Vuich)

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. – The rain that fell in the first round of stroke-play qualifying at the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship was both a blessing and a curse for Christina Proteau.

Proteau is six months pregnant with her first child, due on Dec. 5, and when the precipitation began to fall, she reached for the rain jacket in her golf bag, carried by her husband, Jim.

It didn’t fit, said Proteau, 31, who is a prosecutor for the ministry of justice in British Columbia. As soon as I put it on, I realized it was snug around the midsection. I ended up taking it off.

With her body temperature elevated by her pregnancy, she certainly didn’t need the jacket to keep warm. And that’s where the rain paid dividends.

I feel pretty good right now, said Proteau. It feels a little cooler than it did the last couple of days. I was thankful to the rain for that.

Proteau, who tied for fifth in stroke play at last year’s Women’s Mid-Amateur and reached the Round of 16, struggled to a 7-over 79 on Saturday, but refused to make excuses.

I was in the rough a little more than I would have liked, said Proteau, who failed to register a birdie. And the rain made the course play a lot longer than in the practice rounds. I’m not too thrilled, but I wouldn’t change anything that I did. I made good decisions and kept positive.

Proteau has won the Canadian Women’s Mid-Amateur five times, including in 2013, and also has four victories apiece in the British Columbia Women’s Amateur and Women’s Mid-Amateur. She also recently qualified to compete in a new USGA championship, the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, which debuts next May at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.

We made it by one shot, said Proteau of the sectional qualifier on Aug. 28 at Gold Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton, Wash., where she and Shawn Farmer combined for a round of 70. That golf course was a really tough walk. I would not want to walk it for a whole week.

Farmer, who is from Seattle, had competed against Proteau in the PNGA Cup, a match-play event that pits a team from British Columbia against a team from Oregon, Idaho and Washington, but the two had never teamed up before.

I’m really looking forward to May, said Proteau. Playing together at Bandon Dunes is going to be awesome. It will be different – we’ll have one more in the group.

Proteau hasn’t had to make any major adjustments to play competitive golf during her pregnancy. The season began in earnest for the Port Alberni, B.C., resident in early May.

I just have to pay a little more attention to getting rest after my rounds, said Proteau. Other than that, I don’t see it being an issue the rest of this week. When I miss shots to the right or to the left, it’s got to do with some growing that’s going on. It’s an adjustment, but it’s for a great reason.

Proteau plans to work through the end of November, but her immediate plan is to get herself into the match-play draw.

It’s another day tomorrow, and a chance to get a good seed for the rest of the week, she said.

An Event Off The Beaten Path

Players in USGA championships face testing conditions that can sometimes be exacerbated by weather, but few of her fellow competitors have played in an event that mirrors Anita Venner’s experience.

A Pennsylvania native who currently lives in Monrovia, Md., Venner spent 15 years on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where she competed in the Coral Bay Open, an annual tournament on St. John, an adjacent island.

[The holes] ran down the streets, through the church and schoolyards, across the bars. People were dressed up in crazy outfits, said Venner, who spent seven years as the secretary of the St. Thomas/St. John Golf Association. Players would hit off a basketball court in a schoolyard over a fence, into a field, into a television set. Those were the kinds of holes that you played. People had donkeys and dogs carrying their clubs. One group carried a couch with them just to have a place to sit down.

Venner, who started off with a 10-over 82 on Saturday in her second Women’s Mid-Amateur start, played four times in the event, which served as a fundraiser for local charities and allowed competitors to use only four clubs. Though she never earned the top prize, a green jacket, her memories of the event can be summed up simply.

It was the most fun tournament I’ve ever played in.

Ron Driscoll is the manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at rdriscoll@usga.org. Scott Lipsky of the USGA contributed.