December 16, 2020
These Women are good!
This past week showcased the best women golfers in the world competing in the USGA Women's Open at the Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas. As the week unfolded there were many storylines that kept your interest, but more so was the superb shotmaking that was on display. The ultimate winner birdied the last three holes to emerge with a one stroke victory. The general golfing public doesn't appreciate the skill level that these women possess.
Many years ago I started teaching a 15 year old girl that was trying out for her high school golf team. She had never played before, but picked it up quickly and soon fell in love with the game. In her senior year she finished third in the Colorado high school championships and earned a golf scholarship to Colorado State University. Upon graduating she turned professional and tried to get on the LPGA Tour. She didn't reach her goal, but did compete on the Futures Tour and did qualify for the 1999 US Women's Open that Judy Inkster won with a 16 under par total at Old Waverly Golf Club in Mississippi. The course played at a little over 6,400 yards to a par of 72. At the time her boyfriend was competing on what now is called the Korn Ferry Tour (PGA's second tour) and he caddied for her that week. He experienced up close how good these women can play. He said after that week that he would have had to play real well to shoot 16 under on that course. His ego was talking and I firmly believe Inkster would have easily beaten him by a lot given the tournament conditions and pressure.
I have been fortunate to play and been around a lot talented women golfers who competed and won at the highest levels. Their wins include US Women Opens, US Women Amateurs, Curtis Cup participants, major amateur events and LPGA tournaments. In the summer of 1977, I got to play often with Barbara McIntire, Tish Pruess, Nancy Roth Simms, Cindy Hill and Judy Bell at the Broadmoor where I was the teaching pro. I was very impressed with the total command of their swings, their dedication and love of the game. That summer was very enjoyable and I became more appreciative of the skill level of these wonderful women that I played with and had become friends with.
At La Quinta Country Club, where I was an assistant professional, Ernie Vossler, PGA professional, 3 time winner on the PGA Tour, and golf course developer, would teach Sandra Palmer, Betty Burfeindt, and Marlene Bauer Hagge and other LPGA and PGA professionals on the far end of the range at La Quinta. Whenever I had a chance I would sit and watch him teach and view these great golfers hit whatever shot he asked them to hit. Ernie made this statement; "If I needed one shot, and I had to bet my life on that shot, I would want Sandra Palmer to hit that shot". His faith in her says tons about his evaluation of her ability and mental fortitude!
Jerilyn Britz won the 1979 US Women's Open and competed on the LPGA Tour for over twenty-five years. She taught 12 years for VIP Golf Academy and was a great teacher and an even better person. Her best quote and one that I use all the time is, "Golf's not difficult, it's just hard to do!" All of the women golfers that I have been fortunate to have gotten to know have added to my knowledge and understanding of the golf swing. The physical makeup maybe different, but at the root we are all golfers' intent on playing the best we can.
The women that played in last week's US Women's Open are really good and a lot better than we can comprehend. I wish there could be a level playing field so the average golfer could see how truly good they are compared to those on the PGA Tour. What you should do, if you have the opportunity, is to go to a LPGA event and see in person how skilled these players are and what you can learn from them. How they do it is probably more translatable to the average man or woman than the players on the PGA Tour.