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Monday, August 4, 2014

Windham CC ready for the women

Windham Country Club is ready for the Granite State’s 59 best female amateur players to hit the links Monday as it hosts the New Hampshire Women’s Golf Association’s 2014 State Amateur Championship.

Unlike the men’s event at Goffstown’s Stonebridge Country Club in July, there are no complaints about the Windham course and more importantly it’s greens, heading into the three-day event (Monday-Wednesday). ...

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Windham Country Club is ready for the Granite State’s 59 best female amateur players to hit the links Monday as it hosts the New Hampshire Women’s Golf Association’s 2014 State Amateur Championship.

Unlike the men’s event at Goffstown’s Stonebridge Country Club in July, there are no complaints about the Windham course and more importantly it’s greens, heading into the three-day event (Monday-Wednesday).

Early in the season there were two temporary greens on the 15th and 18th holes, but that hasn’t been the case since Memorial Day according to club owner and PGA Professional Joanne Flynn.

“Everything is good with us,” Flynn said. “We haven’t had any issues all season since those two greens were fixed.

“We’ve been busy getting the course marked the last couple days. It’s ready for the event, it’s in great shape and even if it rains in the next few days, the course has been draining really well.”

Fifteen-time State Am champion Dana Harrity can attest to that. She just played the course Wednesday.

“It looked good to me,” said the North Hampton resident, whose first State Am title came in 1982 at Abenaqui Country Club in Rye and her latest title at Hanover Country Club in 2012. “They have the course in great shape for Monday.

“It’s going to be a test for every part of our games. There are spots that leave the door open for a great score, but it will all come down to playing smart or taking chances.”

Windham CC’s NHWGA course representative Candi Cosgrove agreed with Harrity, stressing that the winter wasn’t as bad on her home course as it was at other locations statewide.

“The course looks beautiful and from all the feedback I’ve received it’s playing as we’ll as it looks,” Cosgrove said. “As far as the greens, well the greens are absolutely rolling wonderful.”

Exactly what the field wants to hear heading into the first round, which will kick start a new format for the 54-hole, medal play tournament. For the first time, the event will be divided into three flights – Championship, First and Second – based on a players handicap.

It’s a welcome change for Souhegan Woods Golf Club’s Diane Doran and Karen McKeen.

“There are so many good golfers that will be out there,” Doran said. “I know what my limitations are. My goal is to play three good days of golf. It’s a test to see how I measure up with the best golfers in the state.”

McKeen also knows where she fits in.

“I’ll be in the lowest flight,” McKeen said. “I think this is very cool. We’ll be competing with people in our own handicap range.

“I can’t compete with the Dana Harritys and Tracy Martins. I know that. So now, going in, I’m set to compete in my flight with similar skill-level golfers. I know I can do well against my own caliber of player. It’s still a very competitive group and we’re still competitive against each other.”

One of those upper-echelon golfers McKeen mentioned, defending champion Tracy Martin, will be a noticeable absence in this year’s field.

The Championship Flight will have plenty of heavy hitters teeing off, including 2013 runner-up Lisanne Schmidt (Eastman Golf Links); 2014 New England champion and 15-time State Am winner Harrity; four-time defending Junior champion Lauren Thibodeau (Windham CC) 2011 State Am champ Tara Watt (Derryfield Country Club), NEWGA Legends champion, two-time NHWGA Legends champion and five-time NHWGA Senior champion Nicole Tombs (Concord Country Club); two-time NHWGA Senior champion Dale Nims (Lochmere Golf and Country Club); Colette Schmidt (Eastman Golf Links); and Mindy Inglis-Reid (Pembroke Pines Country Club).

Harrity, who is coming off a big win at the New England Am, and Schmidt, a star golfer for Lebanon High School when it won a Division II title in 2008 and at Eastern Kentucky University where she was named one of the top 20 amateur woman golfers in the country as a senior in 2012, are the favorites.

Even so, they’ll need to be on their game to hold off the pack.

As Harrity said, the par-72, 5,211-yard Dean Bowen designed course presents a challenging layout with what is said to be the toughest three consecutive holes in the state (holes three, four and five).

“It’s going to come down to driving straight and hitting our greens,” Harrity said. “There are a lot of big greens there, so reaching them is definitely doable. But pin placement will make them challenging.”