CHAMPIONS
A September to Remember Shaping Up for USGA Championships September 8, 2016 | FAR HILLS, N.J. By David Chmiel, USGA

Lauren Greenlief is ready to take on the field as she defends her 2015 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur title. (USGA/Matt Sullivan)

For the next three weeks, thousands of golfers from around the country will put their daily lives on hold to pursue their dreams of winning USGA amateur championships. Here are nine things you need to know about the month ahead:

30th U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, Sept. 10-15, The Kahkwa Club, Erie, Pa.

1.)   Defending champion Lauren Greenlief, who defeated Margaret Shirley, 2 and 1, at Squire Creek Country Club in Choudrant, La., will defend her title at The Kahkwa Club, which has hosted two previous USGA championships, the 1971 U.S. Women’s Open (won by JoAnne Gunderson Carner) and the 2004 U.S. Women’s Amateur (won by Jane Park). 

2.)   Greenlief will be among four U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champions in the field. She will be joined by 2009 champion Martha Leach, 2013 champion Julia Potter and Meghan Stasi, who won in 2006-07, 2010 and 2012. A win by Stasi would push her past Ellen Port, the only other four-time champion (1995-96, 2000, 2011) 

Sammy Schmitz used a remarkable hole-in-one to propel him to a victory in the 2015 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. (USGA/Chris Keane)

36th U.S. Mid-Amateur, Sept. 10-15, Stonewall, Elverson, Pa.

3.) It will be pretty unlikely for defending champion Sammy Schmitz – or anyone else, for that matter – to pull off the shot that sealed his victory at John’s Island Club in Vero Beach, Fla. Fresh from losing the 32nd hole in the 36-hole final, Schmitz let off a little steam by blasting a driver on the 270-yard, par-4 15th hole on the West Course, then let the gallery’s reaction tell him that it was good, then really good, then oh.my.goodness good when it dropped for the almost-unprecedented hole-in-one en route to a 3-and-2 victory over Marc Dull. It was Schmitz’s first USGA title.

4.) The 2016 Mid-Am Champion receives an exemption into the 2017 U.S. Amateur at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., an exemption into 2017 U.S. Open sectional qualifying and a likely invitation to the 2017 Masters. The semifinal and championship matches will be broadcast from 3-5 p.m. EDT Wednesday and Thursday, Sept.14-15, on FS1.

Good friends Pamela Kuong (left) and Karen Garcia had a good-natured battle in the 2015 U.S. women's Senior Amateur, which Garcia won. (USGA/Matt Sullivan)

55th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, Sept. 17-22, Wellesley Country Club, Wellesley, Mass.

5.) The championship, open to women who have turned 50 and who possess a Handicap Index® not exceeding 18.4, has been punctuated with dominant runs since it was inaugurated in 1962. Carolyn Cudone captured five consecutive titles (1968-72); Dorothy Porter (1977, 1980-81, 1983), Anne Sander (1987, 1989-90, 1993) and Carol Semple Thompson (1999-2002) each earned four titles.

6.) Defending champion Karen Garcia, of Cool, Calif., beat a dear friend, Pamela Kuong, 1 up, to capture her first USGA title at Hillwood Country Club in Nashville, Tenn. Kuong will be playing in her backyard – she resides in Wellesley Hills, Mass., roughly 2 miles from this year’s host site – the Donald Ross course that opened in 1910. According to the Donald Ross Society, Ross designed more than 50 courses in Massachusetts. 

Chip Lutz got a surprise visit from his mother, Karen, as he earned a wire-to-wire victory in the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship. (USGA/Chris Keane)

62nd U.S. Senior Amateur, Sept. 17-22, Old Warson Country Club, St. Louis, Mo.

7.) After trips to the 2010, 2011 and 2013 U.S. Senior Amateur semifinals, Chip Lutz, of Reading, Pa., got to hoist the Frederick L. Dold Trophy a year ago after defeating Tom Brandes. The victory was special to Lutz on many levels, especially since his 89-year-old mother, Karen, was there to see him raise the hardware. Lutz then made the most of his exemption into the 2016 U.S. Senior Open; as the only amateur to make the cut, he finished T-37 before he got ready to defend his 2015 championship.

8.) Old Warson, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and opened in 1954, has hosted some other high-profile events, from the 1971 Ryder Cup to the 1999 U.S. Mid-Amateur and 2009 U.S. Women’s Amateur championships. If you have never seen the course, which should play at just more than 7,000 yards, take this photo journey through its tree-lined fairways. 

Country Club of Birmingham, a Donald Ross classic, is hosting the 2016 USGA Men's State Team Championship. (USGA/Russell Kirk)

12th USGA Men’s State Championship, Sept. 28-30, Country Club of Birmingham, Birmingham, Ala.

9.) The USGA Men’s State Team Championship, like the USGA Women’s State Team Championship, was inaugurated in 1995 to coincide with the USGA’s centennial celebration. States are free to select their three-member amateur team by any method they choose, with one restriction: NCAA rules prohibit college golfers from participating. Texas will defend its 2014 title and try to extend its dominant run with a fifth championship on the course Donald Ross designed in 1923.

David Chmiel is manager of Member content for the USGA. Please contact him at dchmiel@usga.org. Interested in becoming a USGA member? Click here to learn more.