The final USGA championship of 2022, the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, is scheduled to begin on Saturday at Fiddlesticks Country Club (Long Mean Course), in Fort Myers, Fla. The field of 132 players, age 25 and older, hope that the town that the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins call home for Spring Training will provide a September to remember for their golf careers.
After two rounds of stroke play over the weekend, the low 64 scorers will advance to match play, which starts on Monday and concludes with Thursday’s 18-hole final. The champion earns – not only a gold medal and possession of the Mildred Gardiner Prunaret Trophy for one year – but also an exemption into the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open Presented by ProMedica at Pebble Beach as well as exemptions into the next two U.S. Women’s Amateurs.
Thirteen USGA champions headline the field, including a pair of four-time Women’s Mid-Am winners – Ellen Port and Meghan Stasi. Defending champion Blakesly Brock will attempt to become just the second player in the last quarter century to win back-to-back titles (Stasi, 2006-07). They are joined by approximately 100 players who earned their spots through qualifying, including 65-year-old Sheryl Scott, from Boise, Idaho, the oldest player in the field.
Here are 3 Things to Know as the championship gets underway:
If the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur is looking younger, it's because it is. There are nearly 75 percent more competitors under age 40 this year (90) compared to 2016 (52), and the average age of the field has gone down in each of the last five years, decreasing more than four years from 2016 (43.1) to 2022 (38.6).
The champions are trending younger, too. From 2008 to 2012, all five Women’s Mid-Am winners were age 32 or older, including two in their 50s – Joan Higgins (2008) and Ellen Port (2011). But since 2013, six of the eight champions have been in their 20s.
“Over the last decade there have been more opportunities for women to play college golf, which has translated to them remaining active in the game through their young adult lives,” said Laura Nochta, the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur championship director. “It’s still challenging for young professional women to juggle family, work and competitive golf, but we understand the need to keep great young amateurs engaged in the game as they get older. Giving them more opportunities to compete has been beneficial and you see more women in business playing golf as a result of it.”
Like the other 131 competitors in the Women’s Mid-Am, Pendleton Bogache will be trying her hardest to shoot low scores in the coming days. But she’ll have a few more fans cheering her on at Fiddlesticks Country Club over the weekend, thanks to a commitment she made to an organization that is important to her.
The 25-year-old from New York, N.Y., is personally pledging $10 per par, $100 per birdie and $1,000 per eagle to First Tee of Metropolitan New York during the stroke-play rounds of the championship. She is also soliciting friends, family, colleagues and any other supporters of the game to match her pledge.
First Tee of Metropolitan New York serves more than 3,000 students across the tri-state area, providing multiple hours of instruction per student every week. “Young Benefactors,” the arm of the organization that Bogache is a part of, runs “Path to College,” a program that helps more than 300 participants navigate the complex college process through essay reviews and interview practice.
“There are so many ways to support First Tee, but funding is what moves the needle the most,” said Bogache, who competed on the Georgetown University women’s golf team for four years. “More money equates to more instruction time, better facilities and equipment, and more children involved.”
“I would be remiss to not use my first Mid-Am to generate attention and support for the cause. If I can introduce just one new student to the game, that could lead to them discovering a new passion, meeting a new friend, playing on their high school or college team, or landing their first job, I will feel like the ultimate winner.”
Mary Langdon Hardman, Erin Packer and Isabella DiLisio let their games do most of the talking these days, but their introduction to and inspiration in golf came from some very talented and noteworthy family members.
Hardman, 30, is a two-time Mississippi Women’s Amateur champion whose family pedigree in the game is second-to-none in the Magnolia State. Her father, Jim Gallagher Jr., is a five-time PGA Tour winner, while her mother, Cissye Gallagher, is a 12-time Mississippi Women’s Amateur champion and a member of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.
Packer, 44, is the daughter of two-time U.S. Senior Open champion Allen Doyle. The native Georgian caddied for her father when he advanced to the semifinals of the 1992 U.S. Amateur at Muirfield Village and was on the bag when he competed in the 2006 and 2007 U.S. Opens at Winged Foot and Oakmont, respectively. She is also the wife of Golf Channel’s Brandt Packer, who was the lead producer of three USGA championships in 2022 – the Curtis Cup, the U.S. Women’s Amateur and the U.S. Amateur.
DiLisio’s connection to golf greatness is through her great-grandfather, Nick Ciocca, who caddied for Ben Hogan in Hogan’s remarkable victory in the 1950 U.S. Open at Merion. She had a chance to play the famed course in 2012 after winning a junior tournament in suburban Philadelphia. Because of her proximity to Merion (she grew up about 30 minutes away), the then 16-year-old volunteered in the 2013 U.S. Open as a standard bearer.
Michael Trostel is the director of championship content for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.