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Senior Women’s Amateur Competitors Setting the Pace September 10, 2017 | PORTLAND, Ore. By Joey Flyntz, USGA

USGA Women's Committee Chair Pam Murray (right) gives Brenda Williams a GPS logger before Round 2 of stroke play on Sunday. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

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While the 132 competitors in the 56th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at Waverley Country Club are trying to execute course management and earn a spot in match play, they are simultaneously helping the USGA gather data that will help golf facilities around the country better manage their courses and provide a better experience for their golfers.

As part of a study that began last month in the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship at The Minikahda Club in Minneapolis, Minn., the USGA is asking competitors to carry lightweight GPS loggers during the stroke-play rounds and the first round of match play. The GPS loggers collect data every five seconds, which provides information that can help the USGA conduct championships more effectively.

“The use of data, research and technology is important for improving the player experience so we can continue to conduct exemplary championships,” said Tracy Parsons, director of the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship.

The data collected by the GPS loggers will help Parsons in several areas, including pace of place and determining appropriate yardages for course setup.

“This study will provide a pretty good idea of what's happening on the golf course,” said Hunki Yun, the director of outreach, education and partnerships for the USGA’s Research, Science and Innovation department. “And that’s one of the keys to understanding and conducting the championship.”

While the USGA has used GPS loggers to collect pace-of-play data since 2014, accruing more than 13,000 golfer rounds and 40 million individual data points from recreational rounds, the studies at Waverley and Minikahda provide a unique opportunity to collect new information.

The potential impact of this particular study extends beyond the championships because the Senior Amateurs more closely approximate the everyday golf experience. The championship features a mix of walkers and players riding carts, and more variety in Handicap Index® with a limit of 18.4.

A heat map created by the USGA's Resource Management Tool, which tracks where golfers go and do not go on the golf course.

When uploaded into the USGA Resource Management Tool, the data can produce a heat map of the entire course. While Parsons can study the golfer tracks to determine yardages for holes, facility managers can see where the golfers on their course are going and – more importantly – where they are not going. Superintendents can allocate their resources more efficiently, focusing their time and money on the areas that have the most impact on golfer experience.  

“Greater efficiency should be a goal of every golf facility and this technology helps to achieve that in a very smart and data-driven way,” said Yun.

In the short term, the USGA hopes to help specific golf facilities. In the long run, the Association aims to use this data and technology to advance the game for the industry at large, resulting in an overall reduction in facility costs and improvement in the golfer experience.

But doing so requires collaboration and cooperation from numerous sources, including the best senior women’s amateur golfers in the world.

“We’re very grateful for the players’ participation in this study,” said Parsons. “Their support is invaluable for improving not only this championship, but also the experience for golfers everywhere. “

Joey Flyntz is an associate writer for the USGA. Email him at

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