Last Wednesday entries closed for the 83rd Florida Women’s Amateur Championship, to be held at Weston Hills Country Club near Fort Lauderdale, May 7-11.
Think of that. This is the 83rd year in which women have teed it up to decide who is the best female golfer in the state. According to Florida State Golf Association director of Women’s Golf, Meghan Martinek, this year’s championship should draw somewhere between 60 and 70 entries.
While it may seem incredible that a tournament with 82 years of tradition can’t draw at least one golfer for each year and have a field of 83, the fact is, it didn’t. There are many contributing factors, not the least of which is, ahem, male golf writers seem always to have that story on women’s golf collecting dust on the shelf until an editor gives him a shove and he gets it done.
Martinek was way too polite when she cited other possibilities.
“I think the location in southeast Florida had something to do with it,” she said. “It’s difficult to get there and it can get somewhat expensive.”
True though that may be, there’s a little more to it. The fact is some women have more in their lives than competing in a golf tournament. There is the time factor, the kid factor and the job factor. Men may have many of the same obstacles, but in many instances their sense of perspective can include a passion to compete that overrides a lot of hindrances.
To make the Women’s Amateur Championship more user-friendly, the FSGA has taken much of the intimidation out of the event.
“By having handicapped flights,” Martinek explained, “we make the championship open to all women who have a USGA GHIN FSGA handicap index of 34 or less and are Florida residents.”
Since the Florida Women’s Golf Association merged with the FSGA a year ago, a hot topic in the conference rooms has been on how to improve not only the caliber of the women’s events, but the entire experience as well. The Women’s Amateur will be a shining example. There won’t be many events open to a 30-plus handicapper that will be played in a true championship atmosphere.
“I think the women will like the way we’ve been able to present the championship,” Martinek said. “The people at Weston Hills have been great. We’ve roped off the tees and the driving range. There will be tents and banners. For those who like the social aspect of a golf tournament, we’ll have a cocktail party Wednesday night where the ladies can eat hors d’oeuvres and mingle. We’ll also get to mingle and meet them and get their thoughts on what they want for their championship.”
In the future there will be changes. Settling on the strategy to leave things where they are for 2012 was a good idea. However, rest assured that changes are coming and the days of short fields will soon be forgotten.
The FSGA held two one-day events on April 17. On the Magnolia Course at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Alan Parker, of Davenport, grabbed the gross division with an even-par round of 72. Winter Park’s Michael Arost took second with 75, one shot ahead of Chris Hughes, of Inverness.
In the net divisions, Casey Grenville, of Titusville, captured the under-50 title with 77, one shot lower than Merritt Island’s Jason Boetcher and Mulberry’s Joe Dalton. A pair of Ocala golfers, Paul Moltisanti and Woodrow Gatehouse, tied atop the age 50-64 flight with net 69s. Rick Weinacht, of Dunedin, missed making a trio at the top by one stroke.
Melvin Hauck, of Apopka, scored a comfortable four-stroke victory ahead of Ocala’s Don Albert with a net 63 to win the age 65-and-over division. Richard Rosmorin, of Gainesville, took third with a net 69.
Pat Koneda, of Englewood, won the women’s division with a net 74, four strokes ahead of Lady Lake’s Carmi Thornton and Mary Low Powell, of Eustis.
At Ironhorse Country Club in West Palm Beach, Matt Green’s 73 gave the Boca Raton golfer a five-stroke win ahead of Bradenton’s Kevin Curtin for the gross division title. Kristofer Bock, of Wellington, finished in a share of third place with an 81, matched by Gene Johnson, from Palm Beach Gardens.
Miami Beach’s Hugo Pintos won the under-50 net division with a net 77, four strokes ahead of Ted Mendoza, of Crystal Springs, and eight clear of third-place finisher Andrew Maxwell, from Port St. Lucie, who finished with a net 85.
David Alexander, from Palm Beach Gardens, captured the age 50-64 division with a net 69. Robert Schmidt, of Margate, finished second at 73 while Leonard Carothers, of Boca Raton, and Yvan Fountaine, from Hypoluxus shared third at 74.
Angus Hewitt, from Sebastian, eked out a one-shot victory with a net 68 to win the 65-and-over division. Tied for second at net 69 was the trio of three Stuart golfers: Thomas McInerney, David Robaton and John Nelson.
Nancy Hersey, from Greenacres, outdistanced the field in the women’s division with a net 68, a full nine shots ahead of Palm Beach Gardens golfer Jennifer Munro, while Sara Hume, also from Palm Beach Gardens, finished third with a net 79.