In a week replete with women’s golf – from the ShopRite LPGA Classic, to the Volvo Scandinavian Mixed, to the Curtis Cup, to the fond and fresh memories of Minjee Lee at Pine Needles – it was easy to miss one that took place in between.
On Monday after the conclusion of the U.S. Women’s Open, with the golf world still raving about the North Carolina courses and the USGA breaking ground on its new Golf House facility in Pinehurst, a group of 24 LPGA Tour legends stayed in the Sandhills for a couple of extra days. Players like LPGA Hall of Famer Hollis Stacy, former Solheim Cup captain Rosie Jones, Pine Needles director of instruction and major champion Michelle Redman, and major champion Cathy Johnston-Forbes among others teed off at the Country Club of North Carolina on Monday and Tuesday in The Legends Challenge presented by Golf Pride.
Johnston-Forbes was one of the catalysts for this. A native North Carolinian and former Tar Heel, Johnston-Forbes and a woman from CCNC named Connie Lovell conjured up this Legends event back in February to coincide with the U.S. Women’s Open returning to Southern Pines.
The two women met with the Foundation for First Health and the seed of an idea took root. On June 5th, the day after Minjee Lee tapped in on the final hole at Pine Needles to capture her second major championship, the Legends event got underway at a course fewer people know about, but one with a rich history. Country Club of North Carolina held the U.S. Junior last year. And in 1980 Hal Sutton won the U.S. Amateur there. Locals nod as if everyone should know how great the course is, but few outside Eastern North Carolina (or those who follow the history of USGA amateur and junior championships) could tell you the first thing about it.
“It’s a great golf course,” Stacy said last week. “We’re grateful to be playing there. Hopefully people will learn about it.”
June 5 was also Cancer Survivor Day, which played into the foundation’s mission of thanking hospital staffers for all their efforts over the last two years.
Jackie Gallagher-Smith won the event with a birdie on the first hole of sudden death after she and Moira Dunn-Bohls shot 4-under par 68. Leta Lindley finished third at 1-under par and Stacy, still swinging well at age 68, finished tied for fourth with Jones and Suzy Green-Roebuck at 1-over par.
“We think it was a huge success,” Lovell said afterward. “The players were engaging and friendly and everyone enjoyed and liked the golf course. And the weather was perfect.”