U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Monday Digest: Rolling Green Honors 90th Birthday
August 1, 2016 | Springfield, Pa.
By Cody Manmiller, USGA
Despite being under the radar in a golf-rich area, Rolling Green Golf Club has proven it can endure.
“Everyone thinks their 18 is the best ever,” said Robert Zakian, the club’s former president. “But if you ask someone in Philadelphia that really knows and plays golf, they have this place near the top of the list.”
The William Flynn design, which turned 90 years old on Sunday, is hosting the 116th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship this week. But 40 years ago, when the club turned 50, Rolling Green entertained the world’s best female golfers for the 1976 U.S. Women’s Open. JoAnne Gunderson Carner defeated Sandra Palmer in a playoff for her last of eight USGA championships. Carner won a U.S. Girls’ Junior, five U.S. Women’s Amateurs and two Women’s Opens.
That week, Rolling Green proved to be a challenging test, with Carner and Palmer tying at 8-over-par 292 after 72 holes. In the playoff, Carner edged Palmer, 76-78.
“We were very excited to have it here, and obviously golf wasn’t what it is today,” said Zakian, who caddied for Nancy Lopez that week. “But, I’m most proud of how we’ve been able to present the golf course through the years.
“Anytime we’ve been on the big stage, the golf course has risen to the occasion.”
Zakian and three other veteran members honored the club’s 90th anniversary by serving as first- and 10th-tee starters for Sunday’s final practice round.
Rolling Green is a golf-only private facility, and its members are proud of that fact. That doesn’t mean improvements aren’t made in other areas. A $4-$5 million renovation project on the clubhouse is scheduled to begin later this year.
Zakian, who became a junior member when he was 13 after his dad joined in 1966, recognizes the opportunity to showcase Rolling Green to a world-class amateur field and a television audience on Fox Sports 1 beginning with Wednesday’s Round-of-64 matches.
“I’ve been coming here my whole life, and the first time I drove in and saw those flags and the USGA signs, it was the greatest thing,” Zakian said. “I’m proud to show off this golf course.”
Better Late Than Never
While 155 players competing in this week’s U.S. Women’s Amateur searched Rolling Green for all its intricacies and challenges the past two days, Maria Torres, of Puerto Rico, was just trying to get out of the state of Florida.
Torres, the 2016 Southeastern Conference Golfer of the Year for the University of Florida, was scheduled to board a flight from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on Saturday. But, due to unstable weather conditions, her flight was canceled, forcing her to stay overnight in Florida before trying again Sunday morning. Following yet another flight delay on Sunday morning, Torres finally arrived at Rolling Green to register at about 4:15 p.m. EDT. To further add to the time crunch, Torres is slated to begin her first stroke-play round at 7:15 a.m. with the first grouping on Monday.
“I guess I am going to hit balls now,” Torres said with a laugh after registration. “I am just going to have to wing it tomorrow.”
Torres, despite the lack of a practice round, carded an even-par 71 on Monday.
Cody Manmiller is the USGA’s summer communications intern. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.