LUMBERTON - For the first time in the 65-year history of the tournament, the North Carolina Womens Amateur Golf Championship is coming to Robeson County.
The three-day tournament, held by the North Carolina Womens Golf Association, starts Tuesday at Pinecrest Country Club and will crown champions in four different divisions, bringing together 45 of the top golfers from around the state.
“Expect a well run championship,” tournament director Tiffany Priest said. “Even with the limited field it will still be a lot of fun.”
The tournament has annually rotated around the state and was brought to Lumberton by Pinecrest member and former tournament participant Lea Hepler.
Priest said this year the tournament has seen a decline in entries, an issue attributed to multiple factors including a change in dates from previous years. The tournament had 70 participants in last year’s championship at Pinewood Country Club in Asheboro.
“We usually get about 90 entries, but this year it is about half that size,” Priest said. ”The field is much lower than usual due to the change in dates when it is held and also due to the U.S. Open being in Pinehurst the following two weeks.”
What it lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality.
The tournament brings the chance at a three-peat, as two-time defending champion Courtney McKim, of Raleigh, is once again in the field looking to defend her title.
“It’s still a strong field,” Priest said, “and we will still crown a champion on Thursday.”
Despite Hepler’s absense, there will be a local presence at this year’s tournament, according to Priest, who said there are always some golfers from Robeson County.
High school golfer Meredith Godwin, who qualified for the state championship during her sophomore year this fall at Purnell Swett, is the lone participant from the area playing from the championship tees in the Junior division.
Playing from the state tees are Stephenie Miller and Pandora Carter. None of the three were involved in last year’s tournament.