Earlier this year, Kaleigh Telfer received her invitation to the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur three days before members of the Auburn team were scheduled to play the iconic venue. The opportunity, reserved for juniors and seniors, would’ve been a huge advantage for Telfer, given that players at the ANWA are allowed only one practice round at Augusta National before competing there for the final round.
But here’s the thing: The Auburn sophomore was sworn to secrecy before the official announcement.
“She could’ve gone to play with us on Sunday,” said head coach Melissa Luellen, “but we didn’t know, and she wasn’t about to tell us.”
Several women’s college teams have been out at Augusta National this winter at the invitation of a member. Golfweek has learned that to help with setup for the ANWA, the club’s caddies have been charting information from the players for tournament officials.
Women’s college teams play Augusta from the members’ tees, which matches the hole-by-hole yardage that’s posted on the ANWA website. The official yardage won’t be available until tournament week.
There’s a 1,070-yard difference between the 2018 Masters Tournament yardage and the members’ tees. The famed par-3 12th hole plays only 10 yards shorter from the members’ tees at 145 yards, which means many ANWA players might be coming into the narrow green with a mid-iron.
Many of the same holes that perplex the men will be similarly difficult for the women, such as the first and the fifth. The 450-yard par-4 10th likely will require a long iron or hybrid to reach the green from a downhill, sidehill lie.
One college player in the ANWA field posted seven birdies in a January practice round, and another carded a 66. Course conditions will be quite different in the spring, but what an opportunity to get a first look before the historic week.
Luellen first played Augusta National while competing on the LPGA in the mid-’90s. She didn’t break 80 her first time around but came back the next day, considerably more focused, and shot 72.
“Everything about the day, from a golfer’s perspective,” said Luellen, “it’s perfection.” Gwk