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Love that Donald Ross!
The USGA Women's Amateur Comes to Ann Arbor

By Susan Bairley

Welcome to the history books, Barton Hills.

As site of the 98th United States Women's Amateur Championship, presented by the USGA Aug. 11-16, Barton Hills Country Club in Ann Arbor will join the ranks of elite clubs, which have had the privilege -- and challenge, of hosting a national championship event. And longtime club member and Honorary Chairman Betty Richart couldn't be happier.

While it was the Barton Hills board that invited the USGA to consider the club for a major championship, it was Richart, former chairman of the USGA Women's Committee, who later recommended it as a perfect spot for the women's amateur, primarily because of its Donald Ross design.

"A Donald Ross designed course is ideal for amateur women golfers," she said. "It doesn't require target golf. On each hole, there's an opening to the green. So if you hit straight and manage your game well, you should be able to stay out of trouble."

A longtime competitive amateur herself, Richart knows well of what she speaks, and the USGA apparently agrees. Last year's championship, won by 24-year-old Silvia Cavalleri of Milano, Italy, was contested at the Donald Ross-designed Brae Burn Country Club in Newton, Mass. It had been contested there two-time previously -- in 1906 and 1975. In 1988, the tournament was on Ross' Minikahda Club in Minneapolis, Minn., and the following year, it was at Pinehurst No. 2.

"The players will all like (Barton Hills), as they have other Ross-designed courses," Richart said.

While the Barton Hills date is a first for the club and the Women's Amateur Championship, it is not the first time the tourney has been held in Michigan. As early as 1929, the event was held at Oakland Hills Country Club, where it was won by Glenna Collett. And in 1947, Louise Suggs earned the championship and medalist titles at Franklin Hills Country Club.

Included in the tournament's championship roll, are names like Beatrix Hoyt, Margaret Curtis, Alexa Stirling, Patty Berg, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Laura Baugh, Joanne Carner, Beth Daniel and Juli Inkster. Still holding the record for most amateur championships won is Glenna Collett Vare, with six, followed by Joanne Gunderson Carner, who won the event five times.

And while the first tournament, in 1895, fielded 13 entrants, last year's entries totaled 557, the largest number to date. From this year's 18 sectional qualifying events a maximum of 144 players will join the field at Barton Hills for two rounds of 18-hole stroke play Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 11-12. The field then will be cut to the low 64 scorers who will advance to match play, with two 18-hole rounds scheduled both Thursday and Friday, Aug. 13-14; the 18-hole semifinals Saturday; and the final, 36-hole, round Sunday, Aug. 16.

Admission is free for all rounds of this event, and afternoon TV coverage by ESPN is scheduled Aug. 14-16, with a replay of highlights Aug. 17, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

For more information, call Barton Hills Country Club at (734) 663-8511.

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