“If golf had
a six-club limit, Vicki would be the best player in the world,” Ron Coffman
wrote in the recap of the championship in the October 1989 issue of Golf Journal. “She doesn’t hit the
driver much more than 200 yards, but plays fairway woods with the accuracy of
medium irons, and her work around the greens is uncanny.”
also pointed out, Pinehurst No. 2 suited Goetze’s game, since it required few
forced carries, allowing her to run her approach shots onto the green. Goetze
had already seen plenty of success in match play, having reached the
championship match in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links in 1986 and the
semifinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior twice. Her modest length served as an
asset, in her opinion.
“I never really thought of my lack of length as a
disadvantage, especially in match play. I always thought it was good to be
hitting my approach shot first, so I could hit it close and put pressure on my
opponent,” said Goetze, who now goes by Vicki Goetze-Ackerman, in a recent
phone interview. “More length definitely could have helped on Pinehurst No. 2
because of all the doglegs, but it wasn’t until I was playing professionally
that I really saw how hitting it farther would be beneficial to me.”
championship match against Burton, the newly minted U.S. Girls’ Junior
champion, Goetze quickly fell 3 down through four holes, but the strengths of
her game ultimately gave her the lift she needed. An impressive up and down
from a bunker short of the green on the par-5 fifth hole gave her a much-needed
birdie and the momentum she was seeking.
Goetze finished the first 18 holes 2 up, and
bogey-free golf on her first nine holes of the afternoon left her 3 up with
nine to play. It was only fitting that a 5-wood approach shot to 3 feet on the
32nd hole, and a 30-foot birdie putt on the 33rd would clinch the win. Goetze
would go on to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur again in 1992, defeating future
three-time U.S. Women’s Open champion Annika Sorenstam, 1 up, in the
championship match at Kemper Lakes Golf Club in Long Grove, Ill.
Burton from becoming the first player to win both the U.S. Girls’ Junior and
U.S. Women’s Amateur in the same year (a feat still yet to be accomplished).
Her motivation as she prepared for the final, though, was not the prestige of
becoming a national champion, or trying to avoid becoming a historical
footnote. It was much simpler.
“It wasn’t winning the [U.S. Women’s Amateur]
that motivated me so much as it was to be able to beat Brandie, since she had
just beaten me the week before in the Girls’ Junior,” said Goetze-Ackerman, who
plans to attend the U.S. Women’s Open this June. “We had known each other for
years and had played each other many times.”
Indeed, the longtime
rivals had squared off in the semifinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior just days
before at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club, 5 miles down the road from
Pinehurst. In a tightly contested match, Burton had prevailed, 1 up, after Goetze
had needed just 13 holes to defeat three of her first four opponents that week.
her part, knew what Goetze was capable of when she was on her game, and was
quick to credit her opponent after falling in the championship match of the U.S.
the best I’ve played in two weeks,” said Burton, who defeated 1984 Girls’
Junior champion and future U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion Cathy
Mockett in the semifinals to set up her shot at history. “I didn’t lose to
bogeys, I lost to birdies, and that’s the way you should lose.”
making quick work of most of her opponents during her run at the Girls’ Junior,
Goetze remembered being so mentally tired after being eliminated that she
started to play a practice round on Pinehurst No. 2 later that week, only to
stop after four holes. She wasn’t a complete stranger to the layout when it
came time to compete, though, having been a semifinalist in the North &
South Women’s Amateur there earlier in the summer.
predictably hot and humid August weather in the Sandhills may have increased
the chances that two teenagers would be left standing for the championship
match, but that wasn’t indicative of the overall mix of the match-play bracket.
Among the established
veterans to advance to match play were 1973 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Carol
Semple Thompson, who would go on to win six more USGA championships. Thompson
advanced to the semifinals before falling to Goetze, 5 and 3. Three-time U.S. Women’s
Amateur champion Anne Sander, who had already won her first of four USGA Senior
Women’s Amateur titles, advanced to the Round of 16, while Phyllis Preuss, a
runner-up to Sander in the 1961 U.S. Women’s Amateur and future U.S. Senior
Women’s Amateur champion, advanced to the Round of 32. All three had the added
clout of having won a North & South Women’s Amateur on Pinehurst No. 2.
One of the
more convincing upsets at Pinehurst No. 2 that week involved the early exit of a
young star. After finishing as the
stroke-play medalist with a 36-hole total of 3-under-par 143, Pat Hurst, the
1986 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion and reigning NCAA individual champion, fell in
the Round of 64, 4 and 3, to Jodi Figley. Hurst would redeem herself the
following year, winning the 1990 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Canoe Brook Country
Club in Summit, N.J., defeating Goetze in the quarterfinals.
found that her success provided accompanying exposure and recognition.
“I didn’t know how big of a deal it was to win
the [U.S. Women’s Amateur]. All of a sudden, everyone was asking me what
colleges I was thinking of going to. I was more focused on homecoming and
things of that nature,” said Goetze-Ackerman. “I was getting a lot of
attention, not that it was a bad experience, but it was there.”
Goetze ultimately chose the University of
Georgia, where she earned National Player of the Year recognition twice, and also
claimed the 1992 NCAA individual title. Goetze followed her decorated
collegiate days with a 15-year career as an LPGA Tour player, amassing 21 top-10
finishes before retiring in 2009. She currently serves as the LPGA
player-president, a position she has held since 2012, and lives in Riverview,
Fla., outside of Tampa with her husband, Jim, and son, Jake.
Prior to turning pro, Goetze was a two-time USA
Curtis Cup competitor, counting Burton, Thompson and Sander among her
Less than a year after her defeat in the 1989
U.S. Women’s Amateur, Burton got redemption at Pinehurst No. 2, claiming the
1990 North & South Women’s Amateur title. After just one year at Arizona
State University, Burton embarked on her professional golf career, winning five
times on the LPGA Tour and playing on five USA Solheim Cup teams.
Scott Lipsky is the manager
of websites and digital platforms for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com