04/26/2017

The 2017 USGA Women’s State Team Championships will be the last State Team Championship contested – for males or females – as the USGA is ending the popular national competition.

The final Men’s title was won last year by Michigan while this year’s Women’s tournament will take place on the Jack Nicklaus designed Sunset Course at The Club at Las Campanas in Santa Fe, New Mexico September 26 – 28.

All 50 states plus Washington, DC and Puerto Rico are eligible to field three-woman teams of state residents that can’t include any active college golfers.

That simple requirement, however, is what helped lead to the demise of the State Team Championships which have been held every other year since 1995 when they began as part of the USGA’s centennial celebration.

“It became quite clear that the conditions of the competition had evolved,” said the USGA’s Senior Managing Director, Championships and Governance, John Bodenhamer. “There were significant differences in the respective team selection processes. After considering the matter for more than a year, the review supported increased focus toward other areas of USGA competition.”

The problem was that some states chose their representatives based on one tournament, some used a points system covering multiple events and, in at least some instances, teams were simply named based on players’ cumulative competitive records rather than through an open qualifying process.

“It became quite clear that the conditions of the competition had evolved.”

 

So, rather than mandating requirements for the selection of team members, the USGA decided to end the event with the 2016 Men’s and 2017 Women’s championships.

“The USGA continually evaluates its championships and the way in which they are conducted,” Stuart Francis, the USGA’s Championship Committee chairman said in a press release. “The decision to discontinue the State Team Championships follows a thorough review and analysis.”

Instead, beginning in 2018, the USGA will replace the State Team Championships with a US Senior Women’s Open; the first Senior Women’s Open will be held July 12 -15, 2018 at Chicago Golf Club.

Meanwhile, preparations are underway for the final State Team competition this September. The 54-hole tournament is played with two of the three lowest scores from each round counting toward the team’s daily total.  After 36 holes, a cut will be made to the low 23 teams and ties, plus any individual who is within five strokes of the lead.         

While teams have not yet been chosen (or named), one of the state favorites probably will again be Georgia, the 2015 champion and the only state to have won four USGA Women’s State Team titles.

The 2015 Georgia team that notched a three stroke victory over Florida included Lauren Lightfritz, Emilie Meason and 2014 US Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Margaret Shirley. Another Peach state golfer, Laura Coble, the 2009 Women’s Mid-Amateur runner-up, was a member of Georgia’s first three title winning teams.

This will be the final State Team Championship but, according to Georgia’s Margaret Shirley, it’s still a national title.

“It’s always a dream to win a USGA championship,” Shirley said, “and to be able to win it as a team is really, really special.”