It’s only fitting that the 3rd U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship will be contested May 27-31 at The Dunes Golf & Beach in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Championship victories are quickly becoming commonplace in the Palmetto State, what with Clemson football, South Carolina women’s basketball, Coastal Carolina baseball, and, of course, native son and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson’s U.S. Open victory last June at Oakmont Country Club.
One player in the field will try to add another entry to that list.
“South Carolina kind of has it going on this year,” said Dawn Woodard, the only South Carolina resident competing in the Women’s Four-Ball. “So, there's no reason that this can't continue to be South Carolina's year and turn out to be one of the best championships the USGA has had.”
This championship is a return to Woodard’s roots. Though she now lives a few hours away in Greenville, Woodard grew up in nearby Nichols, where she was a multi-sport star and the only girl on the boys’ high school golf team. Now 42 and a veteran of 27 USGA championships, she vividly remembers hearing that this championship would be played close to home.
“When this was first announced, I remember scrolling through Facebook and seeing that the 2017 Women's Four-Ball was at The Dunes Club. I remember thinking, do they mean THE Dunes Club,” she said. “This is as close to home as it gets for me. In high school, we were very fortunate to have some junior tournaments here, a couple high school matches along the way. When you got to play at The Dunes Club, it was quite a treat.”
Once the excitement of the announcement subsided, anxiety settled in.
"Once I realized it was going to be at The Dunes Club, my next thought was, ‘Ugh, now I have to qualify,’ she said.
Fortunately, that part of the equation was solved with the help of partner Meghan Stasi, a four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion. Woodard and Stasi, who qualified for the first two Women’s Amateur Four-Balls at Bandon Dunes and Streamsong Resort, respectively, shot a 66 at Turtle Point Yacht & Country Club in Killen, Ala., on Oct. 5 to earn medalist honors by two strokes and earn their place in the field at The Dunes Club.
“I told Meghan: ‘We have to play in my hometown event. We can't not qualify.’ To say that I’m excited to be here is a bit of an understatement,” said Woodard.
While Woodard is relieved to be competing in the championship, there are bigger goals in mind. The Woodard-Stasi team is one of the most formidable duos in the field, advancing to the quarterfinals in 2015 and the Round of 16 last year.
Woodard played The Dunes Club for the first time in 25 years on April 18, getting reacquainted with an old favorite. Given her local knowledge and Stasi’s championship pedigree, the mid-amateur pairing aims to halt the dominance of youth in the first two Women’s Amateur Four-Balls, which were won by the teenage teams of Mika Liu and Rinko Mitsunaga (2015), and Kaitlyn Papp and Hailee Cooper (2016). Papp and Cooper will be back to defend their title.
“Hopefully the third time’s the charm,” said Woodard, herself a three-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur stroke-play medalist.
Admission to the championship is free and spectators are encouraged to attend.
Joey Flyntz is an associate writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.