Nine decades after its founding, the Women's Golf Association of Western Pennsylvania returns to its origins at Oakmont Country Club this week.
The WGAWP Championship begins today with stroke play and will conclude Friday after four days of match play.
"We're very pleased and grateful that it's still around after all these years," WGAWP president Mary Mackey said. "I'm not quite sure how many of our championships [Oakmont] has had. The last time we were there was 2000, and we're glad to be back there."
The return to Oakmont is more than 12 years in the making. In 1922, Mrs. J. Raymond Price started the WGAWP at Oakmont. A dinner Tuesday night will commemorate the 90th anniversary, highlighted by a speech from World Golf Hall of Famer and WGAWP member Carole Semple Thompson.
"Fortunately, we're both members of the Allegheny Country Club, so all I had to do was call her," Mackey said. "As far as I know, she is the longest continuous member that we have."
Thompson also is the winningest member of the WGAWP, having won the championship 14 times, dating to her first title in 1965, Mackey said. In order to secure her 15th title, Thompson will need to beat a stronger field than the championship usually draws. With more than 20 players with single-digit handicaps expected, competition to qualify for the championship flight will be difficult. Mackey expected 100 entrants from the 42 golf clubs which make up the WGAWP. Stroke play today will whittle the number to 80, split into five flights of 16, and four days of match play will reduce each flight to one victor Friday.
"The championship flight is going to be highly competitive," Mackey said. "There are more single-digit handicaps for this year than any year I can remember. ... So it'll be quite a contest Monday to see who gets into that championship flight."
Mackey doesn't predict championship success for herself. In fact, considering the difficulties of Oakmont's course, Mackey won't be too surprised if she fails to survive the stroke-play cut.
"I'm playing the first day, but I might be cut after that," she said. "Oakmont and I don't always get along too well. ... Some of those bunkers make me break out in a sweat."
Bob Ford of Oakmont Country Club will join Thompson in speaking at the anniversary dinner at 6 p.m. Tuesday.golf
Douglas Farmer: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @D_Farmer.