Girls' Junior event puts Green Spring in spotlight

USGA championship to tee off on Monday

July 28, 1999|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The first year Tinker Sanger, a Green Spring Valley Hunt Club member, was on the U.S. Girls' Junior committee, she went to Pittsburgh for the 1985 championship at St. Clair Country Club, and noticed a big welcoming banner strung across one of the downtown streets.

"I thought, `Oooh, we could never do that,' " Sanger recalled yesterday, knowing perhaps better than anybody that "never" has become, "Yes, we can."

The 51st Girls' Junior championship will be played at Green Spring next week, and as Sanger pointed out, "Here it is, and I can hardly believe it."

Several years ago, a member of the national committee asked Sanger if Green Spring would consider holding such a championship. Through the efforts of several members, particularly greens chairman George Litz, a presentation was accepted by the club's board of directors to bid on the tournament.

In turn, the U.S. Golf Association awarded this year's championship to the Owings Mills club.

"A good course, a friendly club with an enthusiastic membership -- it seemed a natural fit," Litz said.

From the start four years ago, local businessman and Green Spring member Clark MacKenzie has served as general chairman, and Sanger, co-chair and USGA liaison.

"For a small, family club to put on a national championship is a challenge," MacKenzie pointed out, "but we have managed it through the efforts of our volunteers -- some 200 of them."

While club members have done the work, USGA staff member Maggie Giesenhagen, the tournament manager for the championship, has made numerous visits and provided assistance where needed.

"Actually, the buck stops with me," she said, taking time out from unpacking trunks and boxes, and setting up shop in a room that will become her home-away-from-home for most of the next two weeks.

"There are a lot of administrative details, but one of the outside things we will do is begin marking the golf course tomorrow [today]," she explained.

A Girls' Junior committee member for 10 years, she resigned the volunteer post to accept a permanent position with the USGA. This is her fifth championship as manager.

The championship will begin Monday with the first of two days of on-site qualifying for 156 entries. The low 64 will advance to match play, with the final scheduled for Aug. 7.

Among the players will be defending champion Leigh Ann Hardin, 17, of Martinsville, Ind., and four who qualified last month at Green Spring, one of 30 nationwide sites that attracted 666 entries.

Medalist Kansas Gooden, 17, Staunton, Va., will be joined by Christy Larrimore, 14, Glen Burnie; Sarah O'Neill, 14, Bethesda; and Jenny Suh, 13, Fairfax, Va.

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