MOSCOW, Idaho – When I received my invitation to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur championship at the end of January, first I was speechless, but obviously super excited. I couldn’t wait to get to Augusta, Georgia, and see the full landscape of a golf course filled with such tradition and history.
It took me a long time to understand – and even now I am not sure I fully realize – how big of a deal it was to participate in the inaugural ANWA April 3-6.
The spring went by fast and it was time to pack. I had never been to Augusta before, but as soon as I arrived at the airport I realized this small town lives by its long history in golf. Getting there, everything was fully organized and the people were welcoming and just as excited as all the players, coaches, families and friends who came from all over the world to make women’s golf history.
The week started with players’ registration Monday morning. It wasn’t your normal registration that takes 10 minutes. Besides registering and signing our names on several welcoming boards, we got personalized leather yardage guides, chose dinner reservations for the upcoming evenings and took headshots for the media after getting just enough makeup on.
And what would be a one-week trip without shopping? Every participant got to choose some ANWA gear and had the opportunity to purchase other exclusive Augusta apparel in the huge pro shop. Augusta National Golf Club Chairman Fred Ridley welcomed every single player before taking a group picture and heading to a delicious dinner.
The evenings were scheduled with opening ceremonies, players and closing ceremonies. The highlight was definitely the Chairman’s Dinner in the Founders Room Tuesday evening at Augusta National. Driving down Magnolia Lane, walking through the library, the members’ locker room and along hole No. 1 was a moment in life I will never forget. You get there and see the landscape without all those people on a quiet and sunny evening. You stand there for a second, remembering some of your favorite Masters moments you have only seen on TV, and imagine yourself walking up the 18th hole.
Throughout the week, we were shuttled around to the golf courses and downtown. Champions Retreat, the course where we played the first two rounds, was beautiful. When we arrived for practice Monday afternoon, just how special this event was really started to sink in. Upon arrival, each player had her own locker in a locker room filled with as many snacks and candies as you can imagine. A quick glance over hole one going out and holes nine and 18 coming in looked amazing already. The roll on the practice greens was smooth.
All 72 of us got to play Augusta National on Friday. Having the opportunity to play the course was amazing. We had a lot of fun trying to reach holes 13 and 15 in two, after coming up short on No. 12.
Saturday’s final round, also played at Augusta National, was unforgettable from the start. Four Hall of Fame ladies golfers – Nancy Lopez, Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa and Se Ri Pak – hit shots in the first tee ceremony in front of hundreds of people and a national TV audience. Bubba Watson watched almost every tee shot on the first hole and congratulated the winner, Jennifer Kupcho, walking off 18. As players, we were able to walk inside the ropes at certain spots on Saturday, like the first tee or behind the 18th hole.
Being part of women’s golf history, the people I met and memories I made that week were just incredible, unforgettable and a lot of fun.
This event can and will have a lasting impact on the future of women’s golf. And I will always be able to say I was part of it.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.