Sports

State’s top women golfers take to the links at Useless Bay

Valarie Schmidt of Renton practices her short game while waiting to tee off Monday at the Washington State Women’s Golf Association championship at Useless Bay. - Jeff VanDerford
Valarie Schmidt of Renton practices her short game while waiting to tee off Monday at the Washington State Women’s Golf Association championship at Useless Bay.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford

The state’s finest women golfers are on the links at the par-72 Useless Bay Golf Club this week.

The occasion is the Washington State Women’s Golf Association championship, an event that only happens on Whidbey every 30 years or so.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to play and watch the best golfers on our own home course,” said Langley’s Sue Devenney. “This is a prestigious tournament and I’m glad to be part of it.”

Players representing 34 private golf clubs are competing in the week-long event for the chance to be named the best in the state, explained tournament chairwoman and participant Diane Anderson.

“This is absolutely the real deal,” she said. “After Friday’s grueling 36-hole round, the best woman golfer in the state will be named.”

The championship takes a lot of work to put on — there are 112 players from as far away as Walla Walla — but organizers believe it’s worth it.

“We’re really honored to have this opportunity to showcase our beautiful island and our challenging golf course,” Anderson said. “We hope folks will join the gallery to cheer on these great female athletes and give a good impression for Whidbey Island. Golf played at this caliber is a popular spectator sport because it is fun to watch.”

She added that, for local golfers, the chance to play their golf game against others at the highest level is a rare but thrilling opportunity.

“Despite the tension, the camaraderie between players is great,” Anderson said. “These are confident women who enjoy good competition.”

Club pro Brian Lubach said there are a million variables in preparing for and holding a huge tournament.

“The quality of the players, getting start times right, making sure the course doesn’t get clogged and accurate scoring are just a few,” he said. “But we have 56 club volunteers to see things run smoothly.”

Freeland’s Su Sumida spent her time waiting for her first shot by driving some balls at the club’s range.

“This is something I’ve never done before,” she said. “The field has some extremely good golfers, I’m learning some great pointers ,and I’m proud of the job our club is doing as the host.”

The qualification rounds began on Monday. The 16 players with the lowest gross scores will comprise the championship flight.

The other qualifying players are then put into flights based on their handicaps, and all of the players then face double elimination throughout the week.

On Friday, July 31 the two finalists in each flight will play an 18-hole championship match, and the two championship finalists will play a tough 36-hole match.

Local Whidbey Island golfers competing this year — besides Devenny, Anderson and Sumida — are Ako Shimozato, Mary Johnson, Roberta Pollard, Kay Stockholm, Margie Murphy, Robin Sumrall, Jan Tepper, Cindy Merritt, Penny Knowles, Anne Taft, Dee Dee Kosa and Judi Rising.

The public is invited to watch the golfers play all week, but a guest pass is required. To arrange for one, contact Bill Davis at 360-661-5167 or 321-9559.

Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or sports@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

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