Posted: July 20, 2014 2:03 am
Two rounds of golf had been completed and two new champions crowned, leaving the ladies of the Lanco Better Ball tournament with nothing to do but catch up with old friends.
With almost 100 women gathered Wednesday in a banquet room at Lancaster Host, the conversation was wide-ranging, but it wasn’t long before the topic turned to next summer’s U.S. Women’s Open, which will be held at Lancaster Country Club.
As the county prepares for an influx of golfers and spectators, the tournament is having an impact on more than just the local economy.
“I definitely think a lot more people are paying attention to women’s golf in particular, as opposed to men’s,” said Amber Rohrer, fresh off a win at the Lanco Better Ball. “I mean everybody’s always excited about men’s golf whenever it’s around, so this is exciting for us.”
Hosting such a large-scale tournament has shone a spotlight on local women’s golf while showcasing the sport to a new crop of prospective golfers.
“I think there’s a lot more girls interested,” said Emily Quinn, who first picked up a club at age 11 before playing competitively at Lancaster Catholic High and Gannon University. “When I played on the Lanco Junior Tour 12 years ago or so, you were lucky if three girls played in an event.”
The junior tour now lists 15 girls on its roster.
According to a National Golf Foundation study done in 2011, women were the fastest-growing segment of new golfers. Lancaster County, in particular, has seen an influx of new talent, and the younger ladies are having a significant impact on the course.
Rohrer, who just graduated from Millersville, teamed with Haley Goodling, a rising senior at Manheim Central, to win the Lanco Ladies Better Ball tournament.
A few weeks earlier, Allison Appleton, a rising sophomore at Penn Manor, claimed the Ladies Individual at Foxchase. Dana Droz, an 18-year-old graduate of Veritas Academy, finished second at the 2013 Individual and had a hole-in-one at this year’s Better Ball tournament.
The Women’s Western Amateur, held at Lancaster Country Club in June, was won by 15-year-old Mika Liu. It was the second tournament win of the month for the Beverly Hills, California native, who also won the Women’s Southern Amateur.
“When I first started playing about 10 years ago, it was a (very different group of women),” said Paula Light, who finished second to Appleton at the Individual. “But now the younger kids are starting to come out, and they’re so talented.
“They hit the ball so far, they’re just very skilled. It’s really nice to see that more younger kids are starting to pick up the game.”
Many see hosting the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open as a key tool in recruiting the next batch of talented females.
“It’ll be a great week for everybody,” said Branden Lippy, who partnered with Light to take second in the Lanco Better Ball. “Just a lot of camaraderie between the golfers here right now, and then the professionals that play. We hope we can get a lot more of the younger girls in high school to come out and play, not just those of us that have moved on and graduated, but a lot of the younger kids, because it makes the rest of us better.”