This week, 156 female golfers are competing for the U.S. Women’s Amateur title. I’ve participated in this event five times before, and looking back, those four weeks stand out as highlights. Here’s a glimpse into the most memorable aspects of each one.

2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur – Nassau Country Club

This marked my first U.S. Women’s Amateur, coming after an amazing experience the prior month at my first U.S. Girls Junior. Expectations were already high and they were exceeded.

The release of the new Great Gatsby movie influenced the tournament’s theme due to its Long Island location at Nassau Country Club.

At the welcome receptions, waitresses wore dress-table hybrids adorned with Champagne. I’m still amazed they didn’t drop anything! The reception featured singers, dancers, and Gatsby-themed performances.

It was obvious the more seasoned competitors enjoyed taking part in the party while the youngsters (me included) looked on resting for the days to come.

I can’t amaze you with an astonishing performance. But, I did break a personal record. For the first time in my life, I recorded a TEN.

If memory serves, the tenth hole, a tricky par 4 with an elevated green, saw my approach roll down a hill after landing on the green’s front. I chipped four times before finally reaching the putting surface. Three putts later, I had a double-digit score.

Although I was devastated then, I find humor in it now. The ten doesn’t impact me as much as the memories made with fellow participants and the joy of sharing the experience with family. That week was truly a 10/10.

2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur – San Diego Country Club 

This one stands out from the rest for reasons I wish weren’t the case.

I flew to San Diego a couple of days early to visit the Scotty Cameron Studio and the Titleist Performance Institute in Oceanside – two places I had always dreamt of stepping foot in. Those days were truly memorable. I can vividly recall the inspiration and motivation I felt after working with Paul Vizanko at the Scotty Cameron Studio.

My dad had joined me for a fitting at Oceanside. Everything was going smoothly until the next morning when I woke up feeling extremely ill.

Despite feeling terrible, my dad encouraged me to give it a shot. I managed a few warm-up swings on the range before realizing I had to return to the hotel.

I remained in that hotel room for two straight days until my scheduled tee time. I crawled my way through stroke play frequently making pit stops. Safe to say, I didn’t make match play.

Instead, I lost 13 pounds in the span of six days. Despite the physical hardships, I gained an incredible amount of determination.

I discovered the extent of my will to play. My desire to be out on the course overpowered the physical pain and the embarrassment of having to navigate the course in such a state.

2018 U.S. Women’s Amateur – The Golf Club of Tennessee

A women’s amateur in music city… yeehaw!

The USGA outdid themselves with another fantastic welcome reception at the Nashville Music Center, featuring live music by Ben Rector. This might be among the best receptions I’ve experienced.

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Not to mention, we received cowboy boots from Old West as welcome gifts. And, the locker room was stocked with more candy than a child’s dream.

Above all else, my college teammate was hosted by a wonderful family who remain close friends. This exemplifies the essence of golf – the life-long relationships forged while walking the fairways.

2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur – Old Waverly Golf Club 

The year I first got to visit the tongue twister state – Mississippi. And it was finally the year I punched a ticked to match play!

I never dreamed Mississippi was a golf destination, but after visiting Old Waverly, you all should put it on your list. It felt like the field of dreams. After driving through miles of farm land this plush, pristine and picturesque golf course emerged.

The course suited me well, allowing me to finish the stroke play days one under par and qualify for match play.

I progressed to the round of 32, facing Albane Valenzuela. Despite being three down with four holes left, a resolute feeling emerged in my gut on the fifteenth tee. I fought back to reach the 18th hole, trailing by just one. A missed 14-foot birdie putt ended the match.

Despite my discouragement, the exceptional sportsmanship left a lasting impact. It never felt like we were competing against eachother; we both aimed for our best, hoping the better player would prevail.

2020 U.S. Women’s Amateur – Woodmont Country Club 

Much like everything else in 2020, the U.S. Women’s Amateur was different. COVID tests upon arrival and restricted guests were part of the new normal. A personalized mask was one of the welcome gifts, a symbol of the unique times.

Amidst the changes, 156 competitors still gathered to vie for the national amateur championship. Despite a changing world, golf’s constants remained. This resilience and camaraderie exemplify the game’s enduring spirit.

These sentiments were present at each U.S. Women’s Amateur I attended. The memories go beyond golf – they’re about the people, the places, and the pursuit to get there. These are the takeaways I’ll cherish for life, and I’m confident this week’s participants will feel the same.

The Good Stuff

I probably appreciate those experiences more now that I can reflect on each one. In the moment, I was focusing on the future of the event.

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” – Epicurus