Everything was going according to plan for Dawn Woodard in the run-up to the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship. She and her partner, Meghan Stasi, had played together at Mountain Lake Golf Course, in Lake Wales, Fla., in mid-February, and Woodard returned home to Greer, S.C., to continue her preparations for this week’s inaugural playing at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
“We had played together with a little best-ball mentality,” said Woodard, 40, who has won several Carolinas Golf Association events and is a three-time stroke-play medalist in the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur. “It was a really good kick-start to the season, but unfortunately, I came back home to six more weeks of winter.”
Woodard plays at the Thornblade Club in Greer, where players such as Champions Tour star Jay Haas and several elite amateurs are members, and tried her best to hone her game under the trying conditions of the weather and the competition.
“I play in team events with a lot of the better men who play there, and you’ve got to play really well to contribute,” said Woodard. “The weather wasn’t good – it was cold and windy, definitely not ideal conditions.”
As she stood on the deck of the clubhouse of the Pacific Dunes course at Bandon Dunes on Friday, Woodard surveyed the situation – gusty winds with temperatures in the middle 50s – and decided that her practice for this week’s championship may have been more helpful than she initially thought.
“Meghan texted me on Tuesday and said ‘Raining and windy; good prep,’” said Woodard. “Last week, when I knew it was really windy, I went out and practiced in it. You like for it to be nice and be able to play more, but I don’t know if it would have been as beneficial. In a way, I’m almost glad the weather wasn’t good. If you can hit it great when it’s blowing 30 [miles an hour], you know you’re doing well.”
Pacific Dunes is likely to provide exactly those conditions before this championship is over.
Tincher’s Toughest Task: Mind the Footing
Courtney Tincher will celebrate her 29th birthday on Saturday during the first round of stroke play for the U.S. Women’s Four-Ball. But a few weeks ago, there was doubt about whether she would even be able to play. Tincher was on her way out of her New York City home to play golf when she slipped on an unsecured rug.
“There was nothing for me to grab onto, and I took a really bad spill,” said Tincher, a member of the Stanwich Club in Greenwich, Conn., and one of three Stanwich members in this week’s field, with sisters Camilla and Susana Vik. “So there I was in the ER in the middle of the day, in my polo shirt and golf skirt, saying to the doctor, it’s just a sprain, right?”
Actually, Tincher had suffered a broken cuboid bone in her left foot, a cube-shaped bone that helps to connect the foot and the ankle.
“As I was asking the doctor if we could just ice it, my foot kept swelling,” said Tincher. “It was black and blue, it was twice its normal size, and I was thinking that I wouldn’t be able to play at all.”
Tincher didn’t tell her partner, Marie Bos, 29, also of New York, about the injury until a few days ago.
“I didn’t want her to worry about me,” said Tincher, who worked with Bos at Golf Digest magazine before becoming a consultant for the Wasserman Media Group in Manhattan. “I wanted her to be able to just go and practice. Luckily, I haven’t had to ask her to carry me, literally.”
Tincher and Bos drew an early starting time on Saturday and an afternoon time on Sunday, which will help Tincher recover better than a Saturday p.m.-Sunday a.m. set of times would have. She can’t do any more damage to the bone, which will take a couple more weeks to heal because she is competing this week.
“Did you know that 25 percent of your bones are in your feet? I know that now,” Tincher said. “It takes some of the nerves out of the equation, for sure. I am constantly asking my caddie, which way do I want to walk on this hole, because there are definitely easier ways around this course.”
One of Tincher’s favorite memories is a golf trip she took to Bandon Dunes with her father five years ago, and she was determined to compete in this inaugural championship with Bos.
“A week ago, I would not have been able to walk 18 holes,” said Tincher, who is wearing a boot with a Velcro fastener on her foot. “I am being super careful, eating as healthy as I can, anything that might help me even 2 percent, I’m doing it.”
Tincher has amended her swing to accommodate the injury and avoid putting unnecessary stress on her foot.
“Luckily, I’m very flexible in my arms and shoulders,” she said. “I can put about half of the weight that I normally would on my left side when I swing. I’m getting by; that’s what you do in golf.”
In a game of constant adjustments, Tincher is looking on the positive side. She is at Bandon Dunes, playing in a USGA championship with a good friend.
“You can’t swing too fast because you can hurt yourself, so that’s a good thing,” said Tincher. “It’s a blessing and a curse. Unfortunately, I have no excuse for poor putting.”
Ron Driscoll is the manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.