Amateur Spotlight: Duke's Blumenherst In No Hurry To Join
April 18, 2007
On an unseasonably warm spring Wednesday afternoon on the Duke University campus,
Amanda Blumenherst is moving at a frenetic pace. She is rushing from class while
encapsulating her life in a 13-minute telephone interview.
Former USA Curtis Cupper Amanda Blumenherst has watched top-echelon talent in her
age group make the jump to the professional ranks, but she's devoted to school.
(USGA Photo Archives)
"I'd love to talk some more, but I need to be at practice in a few minutes," she
said before dashing off to squeeze in a few precious hours of golf drills before
Blumenherst thinks nothing of a schedule that would try the best time managers,
and yet Blue Devils women's coach Dan Brooks sees the itinerary play out virtually
"It's amazing to watch her get through a day," said Brooks of the All-American sophomore
who has already won four times this spring. "She will steal 15 minutes here, 20
minutes there to get as much as out of her day as she can -- staying in touch with
her family, keeping up with friends, having a boyfriend. And she's working hard
and laughing throughout the whole process."
Blumenherst, 20, embraces this fast-paced lifestyle, but she's not necessarily hurrying
when it comes to the bigger picture - her life and certain professional playing
career on the LPGA Tour. She's not in such a rush that she can't enjoy the college
"It's not like gymnastics or football, where your body gets beat up and you have
x-number of years of opportunity," said the Scottsdale, Ariz., resident who was
a member of last year's USA Curtis Cup and Women's World Amateur teams. "Golf you
do for however long you really want, so when I think of leaving school or turning
pro, you're only going to be in college for four years, which really isn't that
long of a time. I can be out on tour for however long as I want, so I believe taking
the fundamental steps like going to college is such an important part of your life
that you really don't want to rush."
Blumenherst has every intention of spending four years in Durham before setting
off on the next phase of her life. This runs counter to the choice made by five
of her 10 2004 American Junior Golf Association first-team All-American teammates
- Paula Creamer, Julieta Granada, Angela Park, In-Bee Park, Morgan Pressel - who
already have turned pro. All but the two Parks have won, with Pressel taking the
2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship to become the youngest winner of a professional
Instead of a possible 25-year pro career, Blumenherst's may just be 21.
"And she gets to have a lifetime of memories about college," said Brooks. "Plus
the effect it will have on her in other areas. She will have a degree from Duke
University, and possibilities outside of just golf.
"What I really hope, is that if a player of Amanda's caliber is that wise, that
mature to make that kind of life choice, I really hope people are playing attention
to that. Because what she is doing takes some forethought and imagination. She's
thinking outside the box."
Blumenherst, who began playing golf at age 4, may have been the most heralded junior
female golfer ever to come through the ranks - All-America and Player of the Year
honors in bunches, titles of nearly every magnitude, not to mention academic excellence.
By the time she graduated from Xavier Preparatory in Scottsdale, her options were
quite simple: turn pro or go to college. And picking a college had more to do with
education than playing golf.
"She wasn't chasing a mascot," said Brooks of Blumenherst, a history major who won
last year's Edith Cummings Award, which is given to the women's national All-American
with the highest grade-point average.
What she may be chasing is history of a different sort.
As a freshman, Blumenherst won in her Blue Devils debut and added two more wins
the following spring, including the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship. In 11
starts, she notched 11 top-10 finishes en route to earning National Golf Coaches
Association National and Freshman of the Year honors, and setting a Duke freshman
record-low stroke average of 71.62.
Last summer, she tied for 17th at the Wegmans LPGA and then shared low-amateur honors
at the U.S. Women's Open, tying for 10th with fellow Curtis Cupper Jane Park. She
was named Most Valuable Player of the Fuji Xerox
vs. Japan Collegiate Championship and then posted a 1-2 mark in the
's Curtis Cup victory at Pacific Dunes in Bandon, Ore.
But something seemed amiss when Blumenherst finished no better than fourth in three
tournaments last fall. Was it a sophomore jinx?
"I had a really great freshman year, so I came into my sophomore year looking to
repeat the performance," said Blumenherst. "I just put so much pressure on myself
that I really wasn't making it fun. I was making it more of a job than going out
Blumenherst regrouped over the winter break.
"She keeps the game simple," said Brooks. "Her parents kept the game positive and
fun as she was growing up."
When Blumenherst returned to Duke for the spring semester, her frame of mind was
to stay in the moment. No goals, no looking ahead to what could be. Just play the
shots, rounds and tournaments as they come.
The result? This spring, Blumenherst finished second, followed by two straight wins,
a tie for sixth and then a second straight ACC Championship title on Sunday. She
is already tied for second with former Duke stars Brittany Lang and Jenny Chuasiriporn
in all-time wins with seven.
Blumenherst's stroke average of 71.08 is more than two strokes better than teammate
Jennie Lee, herself a member of the 2004 AJGA All-American team and a bonafide professional
in waiting. Lee also played on the '06 Curtis Cup team and was selected to play
in the 2007 Copa de las Americas Championship in
this June with Stacy Lewis.
Brooks almost sounds nonchalant about Blumenherst's success. After all, she comes
from a family in which a grandfather, an uncle and an aunt are either club pros
or course owners. Her father, Dave, played "a bit" in college and met wife Amy on
a course in high school.
"She's always had the game," said Brooks. "I think the difference is that her putts
are falling. She plays at a level that when the putts are falling, she could win
the U.S. Open. No question."
Brooks first took notice of Blumenherst during the summer before her junior year
What set her apart was the compressed sound of the golf ball coming off the club
"It was an explosive sound, the kind of sound you might hear on tour," he said.
And when Brooks signed Blumenherst, he truly believed he was getting a four-year
commitment, something that is rare these days among the top junior players.
While Blumenherst relishes the pace of her life, one aspect of life in the South
has taken some getting used to.
"Everyone drives a little bit slower," she joked.
Second Cut: The Georgia Women's Match Play Championship may still be considered
in the infant stages as it just celebrated its 10th year. But it's safe to say that
13-year-old Mariah Stackhouse's 1-up victory on April 13 will stand for awhile.
Stackhouse, who tied for second in last year's Georgia Girls' Championship and also
competed in the 2006 U.S. Girls' Junior, became the youngest player to appear in
"It feels great," said Stackhouse, who won the title with a 3-foot par putt on the
18th green. "That par putt (on 18) was the most nervous I've ever felt about a putt.
When my dad hugged me afterwards, I couldn't even lift my arms."
Stackhouse defeated Erin Packer in the final match. Packer advanced to the second
round of the 2006 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur Championship. She also is the daughter
of six-time Georgia Amateur champion, current Champions Tour player and reigning
two-time U.S. Senior Open champion Allen Doyle of LaGrange, Ga.
Stuart Hall is a freelance writer whose work has appeared previously on www.usga.org.