By Linda Russell. July 2, 2019. BLOWING ROCK, NC — Civic benefits may come in winsome, two-legged and big swinging packages.
COVER IMAGE: Photo courtesy of Blowing Rock Country Club
Blowing Rock’s economy and cachet were greatly enhanced on June 17th with the Blowing Rock Country Club’s (BRCC) sponsorship of the USGA Girls’ Qualifying Round of golf on June 17th. An estimated 150 hotel nights were booked and over 300 meals were purchased during the month of June in preparation for and during the tournament.
The U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship was established in 1949 and drew a field of 28 girls from 17 states. A long list of previous Girls’ Junior Champions went on to succeed at the professional level. That list includes Hall of Famers Mickey Wright, JoAnne Gunderson Carner, Amy Alcott and Nancy Lopez. Others who went on to win the U.S. Women’s Open were Wright, Alcott, Carner, Inbee Park, Ariya Jutanugarn, and Hollis Stacy.
Verner Stanley of Charlotte and Blowing Rock presented the idea of sponsoring the event to the BRCC Golf Committee this past winter, which began the process. The Carolinas Golf Association (CGA) selected the BRCC to sponsor one of the 41 sites nationwide to hold a qualifying round in June.
Thirty-six girls under the age of 18 participated in this year’s sectional qualifying round at the BRCC course. The final will be held at Sentry World in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, July 22nd-27th. All girls had handicap indexes of less than 9.4 and played the par 72 course from 6,150 yards.
While most of the girls entered were from surrounding states, such as Tennessee, Virginia, and South Carolina, as well as North Carolina, some came quite a distance to navigate the fairways, sandtraps, and greens of the historic Blowing Rock course. Those included entries from Argentina, South Korea, and California, to name a few. All participants walked the course as the USGA does not allow golf carts on the course during the event. Some had caddies. Others had trolleys that they pushed/pulled up and down the mountain terrain.
Wayne Smith, Head Pro at BRCC, coordinated the event in conjunction with the Carolinas Golf Association (CGA). The BRCC Committee responsible for planning and organizing the event was led by Phyllis Lester. In preparation for the event, girls played practice rounds frequently during the month of June.
Over thirty volunteers from the BRCC were on site to shuttle players and their families to the various practice areas, putting green and first tee. With CGA Officials ever present, the first participants teed off Monday morning at 8:00 a.m. and others followed with consecutive tee times. On Monday afternoon, after several lightning and heavy rain delays, the round was completed. The girls who qualified (pictured above) are:
#1: Kayla Smith of Burlington, NC earned medalist honors with a round of 70 to shoot two-under par.
#2: Yoonmin Han of South Korea and Bradenton, FL with a score of one-under par 71.
#3: Kendall Turner of Chesapeake, VA with a score of three-over par 75.
Macy Pate (our own local girl) of Boone, NC was first alternate with a round of 76 and Riley Hamilton of Reidsville, NC was second alternate with a round of 77.
From the course to the host volunteers, Blowing Rock received raved reviews among the players, their families, and officials:
- “This is the most beautiful golf course I’ve ever seen.”
- “This course is so hard.”
- “We’ve never been to an event where the people were so nice.”
CGA officials were especially quick to compliment the course conditions, the preliminary preparation, the professional staff and volunteers of the Blowing Rock Country Club, as well as the hospitable environment provided by the town of Blowing Rock.
FULL QUALIFYING RESULTS
|The following players did not make the cut|
|CUT||Macy Pate||4||76||1st Alternate|
|CUT||Riley Hamilton||5||77||2nd Alternate|
|CUT||Agustina Gomez Cisterna||8||80|
|CUT||Kennedy Anne Noe||10||82|
|CUT||Maika Llarena Cervantes||10||82|
|CUT||Yu Sun Sharon Kim||12||84|