AWGA Members Run USGA Qualifiers

by MaryAnn Souter

Volunteers serve in many capacities in the golf community. But the ladies who run USGA Qualifiers are a distinctive group. They are highly educated Rules Officials who must score high on the USGA Rules test to serve as the Official-in-Charge of a USGA Qualifier. They must also be a member

of the Committee for the National Championship for the qualifier to which they are assigned. These may not seem like difficult qualifications, but being invited to serve on one of these Committees is quite an honor in itself. The USGA, conscious about its image and those who represent it, is judicious in its appointments.

Each summer there are five Qualifiers in Arizona which are run by four experienced and capable AWGA members. Their responsibilities include contracting a site, handling administrative tasks, contacting the players with details and local rules, and following USGA procedures for the event. Each one of them works diligently to make the qualifier a success, and each one will say that not only has she learned a great deal from the experience, but she also feels a deep satisfaction from being part of the larger golf community.

Mary Pomroy — U.S. Women’s Open Qualifier: Because the USGA has a high regard for the work and reputation of the AWGA, Mary was appointed as the Official-in-Charge for this qualifier even though she is not on this USGA Championship Committee. She is, however, on the USGA Regional Associations Committee. The U.S. Women’s Open Qualifier was held on May 23rd at Terravita Golf Club. In addition to performing her duties as Executive Director of the AWGA, she has run the U.S. Women’s Open Qualifier for the past three years. Terravita, playing at 6,882 yards for the qualifier with a course rating of 80.6 and a slope rating of 145, proved to be a challenging course even for the skilled players in this event. The field consisted of 47 professionals and 31 amateurs, whose handicaps were 4.4 or better.

Mary, 13 volunteer Rules Officials and the AWGA Tournament Operations Manager, Erin Groeneveld, assisted the 78 players during their qualifier. “It was difficult to get 36 holes played in one day,” Mary said. “We were at the course at 5:30 am and stayed until 8:00 pm., on a day that was over 100 degrees! Our AWGA volunteers are a genuinely committed and totally dependable group of women and men who should be proud of the work they do.” The U.S. Women’s Open will be held July 5 – 8 at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wisconsin.

Mary is also the Official-in-Charge of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Qualifier, which will be held on July 18th at the Country Club at DC Ranch in Scottsdale. Those qualifying will play at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at the Country Club in Cleveland, Ohio on August 6-12.

Ellen O’Hara — U.S. Women’s Public Links Qualifier: Ellen, a member of Mesa Country Club for 22 years, has been the Official-in-Charge for the past 12 years. She was appointed to the U.S. Women’s Public Links Committee in 1999 and immediately took charge of the qualifier. “I came from a family of volunteers so when I was selected for this USGA Committee, I immediately saw it as a great opportunity,” she said. Barb Byrnes was appointed to this committee in January and quickly learned how much time and money volunteers spend before and during the qualifiers and at the Championships. “Everyone working in the event does so at their own expense,” she said. “We all do it for the love of the game and for the players.”

This year’s qualifier, at Whirlwind Golf Course, was on May 30th. “I chose Whirlwind because it’s a quality course providing the players with a significant challenge,” Ellen said. There are 24 players competing for five spots in the US Women’s Public Links Championship on June 18-23 in Neshanic Valley Golf Club in Neshanic, New Jersey. Golf House, the USGA Headquarters, located in nearby Far Hills, makes this a unique site for the event. Ellen and Barb will be traveling to volunteer as Rules Officials for the Championship, touring Golf House and meeting Annika Sorenstam, the keynote speaker.

Barb Simmons – U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Qualifier: Barb was appointed to this Committee in 2002 and has been the Official-in-Charge of the Qualifier for two years. For 10 years previously, Barb served on the USGA Regional Affairs
Committee where she assisted at the U.S. Women’s Open. “Being the Official-in- Charge does take energy and focus,” she said, “but it’s not an insurmountable amount of work. My passion for golf keeps me involved.”

The qualifier will be held on August 8th at Desert Forest Golf Club in Carefree with about 40 players ages 50 and older competing for approximately eight spots. “Desert Forest is quite demanding with a good layout,” Barb said. “Their staff is
excellent to work with, always engaged in trying to help us.”

Barb, along with her husband and fellow Rules Official, Warren, will be heading to Hershey Country Club in Hershey, Pennsylvania September 8 – 16, to serve as Rules Officials for the US Senior Women’s Amateur. “We enjoy the social gatherings with those from other states and root for the gals from our state. It’s a great feeling to see them excel.”

Kathy Ehrlich – U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Qualifier: Kathy has been on the Committee for three years and has been the Official-in-Charge for two years. Kathy is an avid golfer and enthusiastic volunteer who has chosen to give back to
the golf community for the immense joy and satisfaction it has added to her life.

The 2012 qualifier will be held at Quintero Golf Club, a challenging and scenic course. Fellow USGA Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship Committee member, Pat Trimbell, works with Kathy on the event. This is one of the smaller qualifiers with less than 20 players competing for six spots. “Last year four of the six players from my qualifier made it to Match Play of the National Championship,” Kathy said, “so it was exciting for me to cheer for them.”

The U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship will be held at Briggs Ranch in San Antonio, TX October 6 – 11. Kathy will be a Rules Official then and hoping for clear skies. “They are long days. We walk 36 holes and in the evening we gather
for a Rules Hash. But I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Last year I received a note from a player after the National Championship who thanked me for working on the event. She said this was her dream and I was part of making
it happen. Knowing it is so meaningful to the players makes even working in a deluge of rain (which happened two years in a row) worthwhile!”

Kathy is hoping to increase interest in the Mid-Amateur qualifier, which is for women ages 25 and up. There is an enormous group of women who have the skill but haven’t participated. In time, Kathy hopes her enthusiasm and contact
with so many talented Arizona women golfers will attract more participants.

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