CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Rohanna’s Golf Course in Waynesburg, Pa., is similar to Charlotte Country Club in one way only: A Rohanna runs the place.
Rachel Rohanna can’t remember much about the nine birdies she posted Monday in Round 1 of the U.S. Women’s Amateur, but her 7-under 65 set a record on a sweltering day in the South, where the Heat Index is expected to soar above 100 degrees later this week.
Rohanna’s 65 trumped the previous Women’s Amateur stroke-play record of 66 set by Kellee Booth, Natalie Gulbis and Amanda Blumenherst.
Rohanna, 19, grew up playing at her namesake course, owned and operated by her paternal grandfather and his brothers.
“It’s actually a tricky course,” Rohanna said of Rohanna’s. “I always thought if you can play there you can play anywhere.”
Rachel said the greens at Rohanna’s are longer than the fairways here in Charlotte, but that didn’t stop the Ohio State sophomore from rolling in one putt after another. It was actually her mother’s father, Dick Schwartz, who taught her the game, with grandma tossing in a few pointers behind his back.
Dick Schwartz met his future wife, Roseann, on the golf course more than 50 years ago. She grew up with Judy Rankin and put on exhibitions with a young Patty Berg when she came to Pennsylvania. Dick played on the PGA Tour in the late ’60s and the senior tour in the ’90s. He was out watching Rachel pour in five birdies on the front side Monday morning.
“Her grandmother worked like heck trying to recruit her,” said Dick, whose wife is the head coach at Youngstown State. Dick, of course, is the volunteer assistant there.
All nine of the Schwartz grandchildren play golf. One can imagine what the family tournament must look like on Thanksgiving. Dick said Rachel’s ballstriking is fairly consistent. Low rounds like this come when her putting clicks.
“I was just playing the game I’ve been building for 19 years,” Rohanna said. “It finally came out.”
Rohanna turned down her grandmother’s offer and began her career at Ohio State last year, where she led the Buckeyes with a 75.24 stroke average. Ohio State coach Therese Hession’s strong emphasis on 100 yards and in resulted in a marked improvement in Rohanna’s game, although she loathes the practice. (Grandma, by the way, has led Youngstown to the Horizon League title and owns her own course, Whispering Pines Executive Golf Course.)
Rohanna began her round by draining a 25-foot uphill putt for birdie: “If it hadn’t hit the hole it would’ve been 5 feet by.” Judging by Rohanna’s post-round interview, she won’t let this day go to her head, crediting much of the day to luck. Her modest goal remains the same – qualify for match play.
One might assume Rohanna has a soft spot for Charlotte Country Club, an opulent place full of Southern class and charm, after carding the round of her life.
“I like it now,” she said cautiously. “We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”