U.S. SENIOR WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Through Attitude and Fitness, Arenas Enjoys Game for a Lifetime September 28, 2015 | NASHVILLE, TENN. By Lisa D. Mickey

Beatriz Arenas learned golf as a child in Guatemala and has inspired others from her country, including her family, to embrace the game. (USGA/Matt Sullivan)

U.S. Senior Women's Amateur Home

When Beatriz Arenas was 8 in her native Guatemala, her mother insisted that she learn how to play golf. An avid sportswoman, her mother played tennis and rode horses, but realized in her early adult years that if she took up golf, she would have a sport she could enjoy for a lifetime.

“I remember she said, ‘All the other sports are leaving me, but I will leave golf,’” said Arenas, 67, who tied for 30th in stroke play and faces Elizabeth Haines of Gladwyne, Pa., in today’s Round of 64 at the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship.

Arenas didn’t particularly like golf as a child, but as the youngest of seven kids, she went along with her mother’s wishes. By the time her friends were asking her why she played “a game for old people,” Arenas was hooked on golf.

“When I was 13, playing golf was a way to spend time with the boys,” she said with a laugh. “I was also competitive and we used to play against them from the men’s tees, so to beat them was even nicer.”

When Arenas was a youngster, there were only two golf courses in Guatemala. Today, there are five courses in her home country and interest in the game is growing.

But information about golf tournaments in the United States, for which she would later try to qualify, trickled into her homeland slowly. It never occurred to a young Arenas that she could try to earn a college scholarship playing golf, and she was 55 years old before she learned about the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship. .

Arenas played in her first Senior Women’s Am in 2007 at Sunriver Resort in Oregon, where she reached the quarterfinals. She has returned to play the championship in recent years, winning a USGA medal this August when she finished as co-medalist at U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur sectional qualifying in Stamford, Conn.

At another qualifier, in which she was paired with a 15-year-old competitor, she was waiting to play her first tee shot when Arenas noticed the starter seemed confused. He kept looking around and asking other players for their starting times.

“Suddenly, I realized he was looking for a younger player, so I went up to him and told him I had that tee time,” said Arenas. “He was very embarrassed, I guess because I could have been the other player’s grandmother.”

Of course, there are times when Arenas has capitalized on her age. She finished first in the 2010 Super Seniors’ division of the Women’s North & South Amateur Championship, earning a coveted Pinehurst “Putter Boy” trophy. She missed a putt by two inches to win this year’s Super Seniors trophy outright, losing in a playoff to finish second in her age division.

She has also participated in at least 10 Women’s World Amateur Team Championships, both as a player and a captain of the Guatemala team. That event has taken her to such places as Japan, Germany, Chile and South Africa and given her the opportunity to compete alongside her daughter, Maria Cristina Arenas, who played college golf at Pepperdine University.

“At the World Team event in Japan, Japanese people asked for my autograph instead of looking for the best players,” said Arenas. “I asked them why they wanted my autograph and they said they had never seen someone my age playing golf with the girls.”

Married to a coffee plantation owner, Arenas is the mother of four sons and one daughter and has 12 grandchildren, with one more grandchild on the way.

Her oldest granddaughter is 22 and, just like her mother, Arenas encourages the youth in her family to play golf. All of her kids play, and two of her grandchildren are interested in the game.

At 5-foot-7, Arenas is a fitness enthusiast. She walks, rides a bicycle and uses cross-fit training to stay in shape for her golf game. She plays competitive golf matches with top-ranked amateurs in Guatemala.

“My father used to say, ‘You have the age that you feel you have,’ so I do a lot of exercise,” she said. “I am so thankful to be able to hit the ball OK, to be here at this championship and to be playing with my friends.”

Off the golf course, she is an award-winning artist for her oil paintings. Arenas was honored for her work at a large South American art exhibition in 2009, and continues to produce work for art shows throughout South and Central America. Admittedly, sometimes she feels more pressure painting for exhibitions than she does playing competitive golf.

Arenas hopes to continue qualifying for many more USGA championships. And now as a senior player, she knows her mother was right years ago when she insisted that her youngest child play golf.

“You are always learning in golf,” she said. “I just want to be blessed to continue playing good golf for many years.”

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