Tracy Parsons had never been to a golf course with moose before – until she got to Anchorage.
“On one of our site visits last year, we did actually see some moose on the driving range, which was pretty spectacular,” said Parsons, who works for the U.S. Golf Association. “And I don’t know any other places where you can be walking up the 18th fairway and see Denali in the background.”
Parsons and the USGA are preparing to kick off the Senior Women’s Amateur Championship in Alaska for the first time. The four-day event starts at the Anchorage Golf Course on Saturday. Parsons said 132 players will compete, coming to Anchorage this weekend from all over the country and even the globe.
“This is for competitive female amateurs over the age of 50,” she said. “So this means that they’re not professional in any way. So they’re not playing for money. This is strictly for the love of the game.”
One of the women competing is 57-year-old Susan West of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. West is a retired businesswoman who didn’t start golfing until she was in her early 40s. She said the sense of community keeps her playing.
“It’s just the camaraderie of it and the integrity of the game, the character usually that it brings out, and kind of people you want to be around,” said West. “It’s just a really neat sport. We feel very, very blessed to be able to participate in it.”
West is one of the top 30 senior amateurs in the country, which gave her an automatic entry into this year’s championship. She said she is grateful for that – because qualifying isn’t easy.
“I mean, anybody can have a bad day,” she said. “And you only get one shot. And so, you play and you have a bad day, you don’t go – you have to wait till the next year.”
Both West and Parsons said they’re excited about coming to Anchorage. West said it’s an opportunity to do two things she loves – golf and travel.
“I’m looking forward first and foremost, for the competition,” she said, “but then secondary, how awesome is it that I’m going to get to be at a place like Alaska, and then to get to go explore it a little bit afterwards?”
Players come from 35 states and 11 countries. The oldest competitor is 75, while the youngest just turned 50 in June, making her eligible to play. Only one player, Pamela Chesla, is from Alaska, but she will have the distinction of striking the opening tee shot. Admission is free to the public.
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