In women’s golf, the dreamers of today in some cases become the stars of tomorrow. They play on the LPGA Futures Tour, driving their fuel-efficient cars from one stop to the next, gradually working their way from the South to the Midwest to the East.
They pay a $500 entry fee per tournament, live in the homes of local golfing families at each stop along the way and play for prize money and for the love of the game.
A long break in a Futures Tour schedule that resumes next weekend in Marion, Iowa, made it possible for Lawrence Country Club teaching pro Kristen Samp, a former Future Tours player, to organize a second-annual event that featured 13 serious sticks competing for prize money put up by local sponsors.
The golfers left raving about the character of the course.
Lisa Ferrero, 28, grew up on a vineyard in Lodi, Calif., won the American Junior Golf Association Amateur championship at age 17, played her college golf at University of Texas and once made the cut at the LPGA U.S. Open. She knows a golf course from a cow pasture.
“I love this area,” Ferrero said. “The courses are similar to where I grew up. Lots of trees, thick rough, deep bunkers, fast greens and hills. Every course I play at home, it’s not flat, it has a lot of character to it, and a lot of places don’t have that. So it’s kind of nice to play a different course where you have to work the ball. Now you have so many places that are flat and straight, like Florida golf courses.”
By shooting 76-74—150, Ferrero earned an $800 second-place check. Selanee Henderson, a 2008 Cal-Irvine graduate, earned $1,250 and won by shooting 71-75—146 in the two-day event known as the Your Charity Lady Pro-Am. Ferrero’s and Samp’s teams tied for first in the pro-am competition, and The Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center and a Joplin, Mo., tornado-relief fund each received $250 checks as designated by the winning teams.
Ferrero was happy to hear that the Big 12 women’s championship will be played at LCC in 2012.
“It’s tough,” she said of the course. “It can play really tough. I think of the Big 12 championship when we played at Colbert Hills (in Manhattan). It was tough, the wind and everything. You want that. You want a championship course when you play for a championship.”
Ferrero, who earned a $15,400 check by winning the Symetra Classic in San Antonio on the final weekend in April, said she always makes it back for the well attended annual UT women’s golf reunion. She’ll share her views with the coach on the most prudent way to attack LCC next spring.
“Really focus on being pin-high,” she said. “Make sure you get your distances correct because if you’re past or way short you can be in trouble. Dial in on your irons, your distances. Just be quietly aggressive on the greens.”
All the pros commented how difficult it was to hit good shots out of the rough.
“If the rough’s like it was with some of those lies out there, they’re going to have fun,” Ferrero said. “It’s not a course where you’re going to shoot 65, 66. Just like the U.S. Open, the Big 12 championship should play hard.”