Women golfers from all over the world will descend on Glen Cove this summer to compete in the 114th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at Nassau Country Club.
The event, taking place from Aug. 4 through Aug. 10, is conducted by the United States Golf Association, the nation’s premier amateur golf association, unlike the PGA and LPGA, which deals strictly with professionals. It will air on the Golf Channel.
However, many times, those in the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur championships go on to become professional golfers. Tiger Woods, for example, won the U.S. Amateur Championship three years in a row in 1994, 1995 and 1996.
While other Long Island golf courses have hosted prestigious events, Nassau Country Club is the only local course to host this particular championship event.
“Nassau Country Club was unique,” said Kathy Beard, director for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, who has run other international golf competitions, including the 1991 Ryder Cup. “They hosted this event in 1914, so this will be their 100th anniversary of hosting it. There was no other event they wanted; just this.”
Beyond simply hosting the 1914 event, Nassau Country Club’s involvement with the event runs even deeper: The Glen Cove course was one of the founding members of the USGA, Beard said, and, as a result, its emblem is one of a half-dozen emblazoned on the Robert Cox Cup, the trophy awarded to the winner of the women’s amateur championship.
But it’s not enough to simply be awarded the event, the winning country club has to aid in raising $500,000 to cover all of the costs of production, such as shuttle transportation, pop-up tents, catering and the pre-event kickoff party – this year appropriately themed after “The Great Gatsby” due to the ties to history and being played on Long Island’s Gold Coast.
Beard said Nassau Country Club was “on the verge” of reaching the $500,000 goal; not bad considering there’s still more than 100 days to go until competitors descend upon Glen Cove.
With the money all but accounted for at this point, the USGA now has to find 400 volunteers to help run the show. Those interested in volunteering can apply through the event’s website (http://2014uswomensam.com). Volunteers are required to pay a modest fee of $50 for adults and $20 for children.
Volunteering for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship may be as easy as clicking a button, but qualifying to compete in the event is another matter entirely. Those hoping to make the grade must have a USGA-recognized handicap of 5.4 or lower and outperform the thousands of other hopeful entries at one of 18 qualifiers, consisting of one-day, stroke play events.
They may be amateurs, but there’s nothing amateurish about the competition, which is a grueling seven-day journey that starts with two rounds of 18-hole stroke play, which narrows the field down to just 64. The women then go head-to-head over the next four days in 18-hole match play, with the final day pitting the last two remaining ladies against one another in a marathon 36-hole one-on-one.
“They have to play a lot of golf,” Beard said. “And it becomes just as much about managing your emotions through that long stretch of time as staying a consistently strong player.”
Last year’s event was won by 19-year-old University of Alabama student Emma Talley. She, along with the nine other most recent champions, is all invited back to compete in the Glen Cove competition.
Those returning from previous competitions may find this year’s championship a little different, most notably because of the unique features of Nassau Country Club.
“The nice thing about this golf course is that it lays out in front of you; there’s nothing tricky about it. It’s a traditional, historic course,” Beard said. “You’ve got greens that are going to run really fast and true, so I see it as a true test of golf, not a test of patience.”