The busiest fortnight in American women’s golf history began last Friday at Mission Hills and now includes Augusta National’s golf course.
The college spring semester takes a break, while the LPGA is back in the States, just in time for the biggest new golf tournament of 2019 – no, not the Jordan Mixed Open – but the first women’s competitive round at Augusta National Golf Club.
Despite continued pushes (Georgia Hall included) for a similar invitational tournament, only thirty “pros-in-waiting” will carry their scores from Champions Retreat at the same time the current Masters of women’s golf takes place at Mission Hills Country Club.
The first obvious contrast between these two clubs is Augusta is to golf as Palm Desert is to retirements. The former Fruitland nursery is located on a hillside that drops down to Rae’s Creek and Mission Hills is fitting located in Rancho Mirage as a transformed desert oasis aside from the Coachella Mountains.
The next contrast is the architects. Bobby Jones, who didn’t like Donald Ross’ sandy humps at Pinehurst, chose Dr. Alister Mackenzie (due in large part to Marion Hollins). In fact, after the Masters, Golf Channel will televise the men’s Western Intercollegiate from Pasatiempo. Desmond Muirhead would later team up with Jack Nicklaus for Muirfield Village and the Masters-inspired Memorial Tournament.
Then there are the preludes. Up first was the AJGA’s ANA Junior Inspiration, which included three ANWA participants (Zoe Campos, Rose Zhang, and Yuka Saso) whilst doubling with a legends pro-am. A Chinese player won a playoff to earn a final spot in the “adult” version. Augusta has the Drive, Chip, and Putt as well as the ceremonial first tee shots by Se Ri Pak, Lorena Ochoa, Nancy Lopez, and Annika Sorenstam.
Last year, John Buhler described key birdie opportunities and possible mishaps at Mission Hills, so I’ll now compare those holes and more to the member yardages that some ANWA competitors have already practiced for.