Years of preparation and planning will all come together later this week as the United States Golf Association will name a champion at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open played at Pine Needles Golf and Resort in Southern Pines.
Play gets under way on Thursday morning at the Donald Ross designed course that will test a field of 120 women golfers. Among the recognizable names are defending champion Laura Davis and U.S. Women’s Open champions Amy Alcott, JoAnne Carner, Juili Inkster and Liselotte Neuman, just to name a few.
Dedicated volunteers travel from across the country to work various assignments like transportation, scoring, hospitality and pictured here, practice range duty.
Also competing for the prestigious sterling silver trophy will be Pinehurst resident, Donna Andrews. Donna, who played her college golf at UNC Chapel Hill, retired from a very successful career on the the LPGA Tour to become the lead teaching instructor at Pine Needles.
The event is open to female golfers, age 50 and above, with a Handicap Index not exceeding 7.4. Players gained entry either through sectional qualifying or were exempt under the USGA’s rules.
Long a favorite of area golfers for it’s classic design, picturesque vistas and rolling landscape, the Pine Needles golf course is the site for a record 4th U.S. Women’s Open event, having hosted in championships in 1996, 2001 and 2007. Pine Needles has also been chosen as the site of the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open.
Hours before the start of Tuesday’s practice round, staff prepare to greet the players on the first tee as the early morning light shines on the Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club.
At one time, Pine Needles was owned by Peggy Kirk Bell, one of the founding members of the LPGA. Ms. Bell was a longtime advocate for women’s golf and Southern Pines resident until her death in 2016 at age 95. Pine Needles is still in the hands of the Bell family.
Play begins on Thursday morning with the first of 4, 18 hole rounds of stroke play. The final round will be Sunday. Tickets for the event can be purchased at ussenioropen.com. Those 18 years old and under are admitted free.
Feature photo: A member of the Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club staff cuts in a hole for the 18th green in advance of the first practice round of the U.S. Senior Women’s Open on Tuesday morning.
~Written and photos by Sandhills Sentinel Sports Reporter/Photographer John Patota.