Taking their shot
Here’s a look at the local golfers who are listed in the Michigan Women’s Amateur championship field, which takes place Aug. 11-15 at the University of Michigan.
• Essence Biggs, Beverly Hills
METRO DETROIT — When it comes to the Michigan Women’s Amateur, there aren’t many other golf tournaments in the state that comes along with the prestige and difficulty as this tournament, according to Ken Hartmann.
“For women, it’s the one they covet,” the tournament director said. “It’s the biggest one. Everyone wants to call themselves the state amateur champion.”
Women from across the state get their chance to earn the title in the 98th edition of the event Aug. 11-15 at the University of Michigan.
Hartmann said the 84 players in the field will start with 36 holes of stroke play. The top 32 scores advance to the match play portion before a champion is crowned.
“It’s a grueling test. … If you continue to win, you end up playing a lot of golf, versus some of the other championships where it’s just two days of medal play and that’s it,” Hartmann said.
Hartmann added that the field consists of many collegiate athletes, veteran amateurs and top-tier high school golfers.
Of the last five champions, three currently play professionally on the Symetra Tour, including defending champion Christine Meier. She also won the title in 2011.
The 2012 champion, Emmie Pietila, plays for the University of Tennessee and is back in the field.
“If you win, you go through a pretty strong lineup of quality players,” Hartmann said.
Recent Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood graduate Greer Clausen is expected to make her first appearance in the tournament. This past season, she finished second individually in the Division 3 state championship.
She’s heading to Michigan State University in the fall.
“Our coach at Michigan State encouraged us to challenge ourselves and play in harder events. The field is much tougher than what I’m used to, and I have heard of or played with 75 percent of the field,” she said. “They are all really good golfers and a lot of young girls, too, which is a good thing for women’s golf. I’m really excited to be playing in it.”
Clausen said her goal is to be one of the low 32 to make it to match play.
“I think match play is a really cool format that we don’t get to play very often,” she said. “It sets up really well, because anyone can win, whatever seed you are. I think it keeps it really exciting.”
The par-72 course will play 6,032 yards, but it’s the challenge on the greens that will prove to be most difficult, according to Hartmann.
“It’s an Alister MacKenzie design, so it’ll be a really good test. Especially the greens — that’s where there’s a lot of trouble. You have to make sure you get it in the right spot or it’ll be a long day,” he said.
Clausen has experience on the course and knows it’s a test.
“The first couple of holes, you have a couple of blind shots. So you have to know where to hit it and play smart instead of banging it down the course,” she said. “No. 18 is a beautiful hole downhill to a big lake that you have to carry to the green. When you do, it is very rewarding.”
The event is free to the public. Fans can also keep up with scores at www.gam.org.