Twins Add Some Spice(r) to U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball
Sarah Spicer is a couple of minutes older than twin sister Jessica, but perhaps they should have entered the world at exactly the same time. They are identical in every sense of the word.
Besides the obvious physical resemblances, they share the same passion for adventure, music, food, television shows and athletic endeavors. While some twins prefer to go their separate ways to avoid the common sibling rivalry, Sarah and Jessica enjoy everything together, which included attending the same college (Virginia Tech) on golf scholarships.
So naturally, the two natives of Bahama, N.C., were over the moon when the USGA started four-ball amateur championships for men and women in 2015. Ever since they were introduced to the game by their father, Michael, at age 7, and graduated to tournament golf two years later, they always competed against each other. Golf, by and large, is an individual sport, outside a handful of team competitions.
The U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, however, offered the perfect opportunity to form one team. Last October, just six days shy of turning 25, the Spicer girls shared medalist honors (67) at Forest Oaks Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., to earn a spot in the 2023 championship May 13-17 at The Home Course in DuPont, Wash. It will be their second consecutive start in the event and third overall.
Jessica and Sarah are one of six sister tandems in the field (see box below), but the other five are all under the age of 21; Siuue and Tsamue Wu are 16-year-old twins from Hong Kong, China.
|Bluffton, South Carolina
|San Ramon, California
|Hong Kong, China
|Bahama, North Carolina|
|Hong Kong, China|
“Everybody always asks us, are you super competitive with each other?” said Sarah. “We’re competitive but supportive. In golf, there’s never really an opportunity when you both can win. It was super exciting [for us] when the USGA introduced this championship. It’s always an honor to play in USGA events, and more fun when we can do it together.”
Added Jessica: “For [me] … it’s even more special now. The first one [in 2017] we were still in college, and we saw each other all the time. Now that we don’t get to spend as much time together, to come together in golf and be a team and have that experience is just really fun.”
When both graduated in 2021 – they were in the Class of 2020 but received an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA due to COVID-19 ending the 2019-20 season prematurely – the sisters went their separate ways for the first time.
Jessica landed a pro shop job at Cypress Point Country Club in Virginia Beach, Va., while contemplating turning pro. Since leaving Virginia Tech, the younger Spicer posted wins in the 2021 Virginia State Golf Association Stroke Play Championship and 2022 Carolinas Golf Association Stroke Play, which led to being named the 2022 CGA Female Player of the Year. She also teamed with Sarah to win VSGA and CGA four-ball titles, and had a runner-up showing in this year’s Florida State Golf Association Four-Ball to edge past U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champions Meghan Stasi and Ina Kim-Schaad. Jessica tried LPGA Tour Q-School last August and missed advancing from First Stage and is mulling a second try in 2023.
Sarah, meanwhile, moved to Maryland and took a 9-to-5 job as a data analyst for Capital One Bank in McLean, Va. While work doesn’t offer her as much time to play/practice as she once had in college, she manages to stay sharp by sneaking in twilight/weekend rounds at Argyle Country Club in Silver Spring, Md.
“When the clock hits 5 [o’clock], I try to get to the golf course as fast as I can,” said Sarah. “I get out as much as I can, especially when I know I have a tournament coming up and I’m playing as Jess’ partner. I don’t want to let her down.”
Last October’s Four-Ball qualifier was one of those days Sarah had to shake off the rust due to lack of competitive reps. A slow start had Jessica wondering if she was competing as an individual. Never one to get upset at her “older” sibling, Jessica patiently waited for Sarah’s game to eventually get on track.
“It’s easy playing with your sister,” said Sarah, who tends to play more conservatively than Jessica. “We have such great chemistry when we get together.”
Added Jessica: “It amazes me how well she’s able to play. People probably think she must not work very hard [because] she still plays so well.”
This tight-knit athletic bond dates to when the twins were 5 and sliding around on the hardwood floors in the family kitchen. Maria Spicer, the twins’ mom, thought signing them up for ice skating would be a good remedy. Turns out, the two enjoyed nearly a decade of competitive synchronized skating. Much like the swimming version, it requires perfect timing and precision, a skill inherent in golf. Skating – their team qualified for nationals in 2010 – kept them active during the winter months.
But once spring hit, they were eager to hit the course, first excelling on the Peggy Kirk Bell Junior Tour and in Carolinas Golf Association events. At 17, Sarah won the North Carolina Women’s Amateur that was capped with an eagle on the final hole. A year earlier, she lost a sudden-death playoff for the North & South Junior Girls title at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club.
Never once did the identical twins try any swapping places shenanigans with tournament organizers or fellow competitors. But if both are in the same group or in a four-ball event, they said it can be a “nightmare” for officials trying to tell them apart.
“We started wearing different shoes or different earrings,” said Sarah.
One time in a high school class, the two switched desks, yet nobody could figure out why they were giggling.
“Nobody noticed,” said Sarah of the brief experiment.
Virginia Tech coach Carol Robertson, herself a past U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur runner-up, figured the two out by simply looking at their swings. “They are slightly different,” said Jessica.
When it came to college, the two didn’t market themselves as a package deal; it just worked out that way. Both went on the same recruiting visits and eventually fell in love with the Blacksburg campus. Robertson started the program from scratch in 2013 and by 2016, and the Spicers became two of her biggest recruits. Five years later, the Hokies reached the NCAA Championship for the first time in program history.
Of course, being on campus together made the sometimes-difficult transition from high school to college easier. Sarah and Jessica leaned on each other on and off the course. Academics certainly weren’t an issue, although Sarah joked about taking a statistics test for Jessica, who needed the class for her double major of psychology/behavioral neuroscience. As freshmen, they were recognized by the school for carrying 4.0 GPAs. They were named to the 2019-20 All-Academic Team honoring student-athletes from Virginia’s four-year colleges; Sarah with a 4.0 in economics and Jessica owning a 3.7 in her double major. Sarah also earned a master’s in business analytics during her “super” senior year of 2020-21.
“In the end, we just decided … we would be more unhappy being apart,” said Jessica of their college choice. “The only thing that was hard that we didn’t think about is there were some situations where one of us went to a tournament and one of us didn’t [qualify]. Once or twice, we were playing each other for the last spot.”
Such a situation occurred in 2013 when Jessica qualified for the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Sycamore Hills Country Club in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Sarah didn’t. Sarah was quite envious while serving as Jessica’s caddie in the championship. Two years later, both managed to make the field at Tulsa (Okla.) Country Club, with Sarah advancing to match play (lost in the Round of 64).
“I remember being super nervous at the qualifier,” said Sarah. “Jess had one of the earliest tee times and I was a bit later. [As the day progressed], I knew I was likely to make it, but then I started thinking, I hope [Jessica] makes it too. It’s always more fun when we both are happy.”
Which is why both love the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball. A year ago, they were high on the alternates list for the championship at Grand Reserve Golf Club in Puerto Rico. Anxious, Sarah contemplated calling the USGA to see their position. But Jessica reminded her that the USGA always says, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
Sure enough, five days before the competition, the call came. Sarah quickly phoned her stunned sister and they scrambled to find flights and accommodations. Maybe it was the spontaneity of the situation, but they qualified for match play and reached the Round of 16.
“It was crazy,” remembered Jessica. “But it was really fun.”
No such drama this year. Their spot was booked seven months ago. And this will be a family affair with both parents joining them in their first trip to Washington. Sarah planned accordingly, getting time off from work while Jessica’s bosses at Cypress Point have always been generous when it comes to competitive golf.
“Each year we’ve played, we’ve gotten a little better,” said Jessica. “We have the mindset of not just making the cut. Of course, anything can happen in two days [of stroke play]. But we go in with a little more confidence each year..”
Similar physical features and identical outfits.
Now the twins want a USGA title to match.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 09, 2023