U.S. WOMEN'S MID-AMATEUR
Argentine Huarte at Home on Course
October 6, 2015 | Choudrant, La.
By Stuart Hall
Mercedes Huarte is a long way from her native Argentina, yet each time she walks onto a course she is reminded of home. That’s one reason she is relishing her stay at the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship at Squire Creek Country Club.
Adding to her enjoyment was advancing past the Round of 64 for the first time in four attempts on Monday.
“People on the course and at clubs are so welcoming,” said Huarte, 30, of Chacabuco, Argentina, which is located about an hour’s drive west of Buenos Aires. “Even if I just meet someone and they invite me to play in their group, I’ll say yes because it makes me feel like home. And that to me, being so far from home, is important.”
Golf has been a part of Huarte’s life since age 8 when her father brought her and her younger brother along with him to Chacabuco Golf Club on the weekends. Huarte was a self-taught player until an early teen when she began taking formal lessons and started competing in regional and national tournaments.
“I started making my best friends through that and all of us were seeking to play competitive golf in the United States,” said Huarte, who decided at age 15 she wanted to come to America sight unseen. “My mother told me to finish my dinner.”
Making a move to the United States easier was a pipeline created by Jacksonville State University golf coach James Hobbs for Argentine players. By the time Huarte was deciding on which school to attend, she already had friends on the squad in Jacksonville, Ala.
“When it was my turn, I had many friends who said you can go wherever you want, but if you come [to Jacksonville State], I would be less lonely,” she said. “They would guide me through the mistakes they already made. So they made the path a little less hard.”
Huarte gave turning professional a passing thought, but opted instead to pursue an MBA. Today, Huarte is a financial analyst for Cisco Systems in the Atlanta area.
For a variety of reasons, mainly school, finances and citizenship, but also being slightly burned out on the game, Huarte did not play in her first USGA championship until 2012.
Not until she and her husband moved to Atlanta in 2011 did Huarte start thinking about competing again. She called the Georgia State Golf Association to see if they would allow her to play in their events. While she is a Georgia resident, she is not an American citizen, “but they welcomed me with open arms,” she said. “That’s when the urge came back.”
She does not envision that changing anytime soon.
“I love the competition,” said Huarte, who is playing in her seventh USGA championship. “But I have to enjoy it because the minute I start being too hard on myself, then what is the fun in that. I sit at a desk for a living.”
Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work frequently appears on USGA websites.