Special to the Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE —
This is the weekend of the U.S. Women’s Open, and this year it’s being played at The Broadmoor, East Course, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. That statement alone gives a taste of how this event is going to be different than most golf tournaments. Most golf tournaments are not played at 6,400 feet above sea level, but this one will be, and the players will have to adjust for it.
Nestled in a fantastic site amongst the Rocky Mountains, The Broadmoor was originally a Donald Ross design, built in 1918. Ross declared The Broadmoor to be “his best work”. In 1952 Robert Trent Jones Sr. built additional holes, and the course is now a mix of those two renowned architects. Holes 1-6 are Donald Ross’, 7-15 are Robert Trent Jones, Sr. designed, and then holes 16-18 are Donald Ross designs. At 7,047 yards, this will be the longest course played in U.S. Women’s Open history. It won’t play like it though, the course will play shorter than it looks, and the pros and their caddies will have to make adjustments due to the altitude.
According to an article in “Livestrong.com”, for an altitude of 5,000, the ball will travel approximately 10% farther than it does at sea level. So if you normally hit a 7-iron 150 yards, at The Broadmoor it will travel 165 yards. The longer the ball is in the air, the more likely it is to be affected by the altitude. Drivers will travel farther, while shots hit low with lots of spin will be less affected. The reason the ball travels farther is because the air pressure and air density is lower at higher elevations, so there is less friction slowing the ball down. There are always other factors affecting the ball too, like humidity and wind, and then the pros will also have to account for roll once the ball lands. With lots of rain this week expected in Colorado, they may not be getting much roll. All of the extra distance from altitude might be negated by soggy conditions anyway.
The field for this years’ Open has quite a mix, and quite a range of ages. The oldest player, Betsy King, is 55. The youngest is 13-year-old Honolulu native Mariel Galdiano. She made it in through winning a sectional qualifying tournament in May while she was still 12 years old and finishing seventh grade. She’s not the youngest golfer in the history of the Women’s Open though, both Morgan Pressel and Alexis Thompson played in it when they were 12.
Betsy King, winner of 34 LPGA events including 6 majors, has been a member of the LPGA Hall of Fame since 1995. The putter she plays with is 14 years older than Galdiano. King has been retired since 2005, but she wanted to play in a Legends event and thought that the U.S. Open qualifier would be a nice tune-up for that. Lo and behold she got in. She says she’s just hoping to make the cut, and a nice way to say good-bye, but she added, “Well if I win, I can always change my mind. That would be a real miracle, believe me.”
The player to watch this week though, is Yani Tseng. At age 22 she has already won four major tournaments, most recently the Wegmans LPGA Championship at Locust Hill GC in Pittsford, N.Y. where she won by 10 strokes over runner-up Morgan Pressel. A victory this weekend would give her a career grand slam. She is from Taiwan, and is working on improving her English, which will help her a lot with interviews and gallery popularity. but just recently bought Annika Sorenstam’s old house in Orlando. Annika is her idol, and Tseng hopes to be compared to her someday, not just for her victories in golf, but as a person. Of Annika she said, “She’s such nice people. It’s not just inside ropes, it’s outside ropes. I just wish I could be like her in almost every way.”
The LPGA could do with a new young star that becomes a statesman for the game. I hope that she, and the other LPGA players like Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Suzann Petterson and will make this a fun and exciting tournament, and continue to increase the interest in the LPGA.
n Quote of the day— “That was the nice thing about retirement — the golf nightmares stopped.” Betsy King, who often dreams of not being able to find the golf course, or not being able to swing due to a tree being in her way.
n Upcoming events — The Terre Haute Women’s Golf Association Women’s City Open will be held at Hulman Links July 22-25. Tee times will begin at 8 a.m. each day, with registration beginning at 7 a.m. on Friday. A qualifying round will be played on Friday and match play Saturday-Monday.
Registration forms are available at Rea Park and Hulman Links, and are due by July 19. Cost is $40. For more information call Josie Swalls at (812) 877-1495.