CWGA already in planning stages as prestigious Girls Junior America’s Cup coming to Hiwan in 2018
by Gary Baines
Part of the idea behind the yearly rotation of sites for the girls and boys Junior America’s Cup tournaments is giving the competitors a sense of place, along with a wide variety of venues.
For instance, when the Girls Junior America’s Cup was held in Cheyenne last year, there was an unmistakable cowgirl theme. This past summer in Modesto, Calif., it was American Graffiti, given that the coming-of-age movie was supposed to be set in that city.
When the CWGA serves as the host association for the GJAC in 2018, obviously a Colorado-related theme will be in order. And not many courses scream “Colorado” more than Hiwan Golf Club in Evergreen, which will be the site of the GJAC in 2018 from July 23-26.
After all, Hiwan is set in the Rocky Mountains, features plenty of impressive local wildlife, and hosted the Colorado Open for the first 28 years of its existence. Hiwan has also been a hub of sorts for major junior events held in the state, having hosted the 1965 U.S. Girls’ Junior, the 1976 U.S. Junior Amateur, the 2006 AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions and the 2011 boys Junior America’s Cup.
Even though the GJAC event is more than a year and a half away, the CWGA is already gearing up for the 18-team tournament, which features many of the best female junior golfers from the western U.S., western Canada and Mexico.
“The more we talk to people who have hosted, the more energy and enthusiasm we get,” CWGA executive director Laura Robinson said recently. “We’re throwing a party for 72 of the best high school golfers west of the Mississippi, and we’re competing with others who have gone before us. We have to make it unique for Colorado, and we want it to be memorable.”
This will mark just the third time the Colorado has hosted a Girls Junior America’s Cup, with the previous two instances coming at Eisenhower Golf Club, in 1982 and 2000.
Among the CWGA’s responsibilities as a GJAC host are finding a host club, arranging for host families and rules officials and other volunteers, fundraising, organizing the opening and closing ceremonies, preparing fun activities and entertainment, purchasing gifts for participants, and general day-to-day tournament management.
The organizers for the 2014 event in Cheyenne have shared their GJAC playbook with the CWGA, which has been very helpful, according to Robinson. Now it’s a matter of putting the pieces in place and adding a distinctive Colorado touch to the proceedings.
“We look at it as very big deal,” said Robinson, herself a member at Hiwan. “People are thrilled it’s coming back, including some who have played in the event. It has a lot of visibility. The sense I’ve gotten is it’s like a reunion for a lot of women. If we do it right, it will be an opportunity to be a reunion for a lot of players and a chance to see the next generation. There’s a sense of continuity and history.”
Robinson plans to join Colorado GJAC captains Sue Elliott and Bunny Ambrose in Las Vegas this summer for the 2017 tournament, where a “hand-off ceremony” will take place and the Coloradans will receive flags from all 18 participating four-person teams.
In recent months, Robinson and other CWGA leaders have been making a point to remind other major players in the Colorado golf industry that the GJAC is coming to Colorado in 2018.
“What we’re doing right now is spreading word to the Colorado golf community,” Robinson said. “We know we want it to be a collaborative effort.”
A team representing the CWGA has competed in the Girls Junior America’s Cup since the late 1970s. The 1993 Colorado team (left) — Heather Stock, Jennifer Kern, Ann Grooms and Jennifer McCormick, along with captain Sally Lou Schultz — captured the team title in the prestigious event, with Kern earning the individual championship that year. And as recently as 2013, the Coloradans finished third in the team race.
(It should be noted that when Hiwan and the CGA hosted the boys Junior America’s Cup tournament in 2011, the Coloradans matched their best finish ever by placing third. Robinson served as a volunteer during that event.)
Some of the best girls players in Colorado history have competed for the CWGA in the Junior America’s Cup. That includes Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Jill McGill, along with Jennifer Kupcho, Ashley Tait, Becca Huffer, Kelly Jacques, Hannah Wood, Somin Lee and Paige Spiranac.
Among the longest-serving non-playing captains for Colorado over the years have been Schultz (1990 through 2000), Lynn Zmistowski (the earliest captain, in the late 1970s and early ’80s), Georgene McGonagle (mid to late 1980s); and then-CWGA staffers LindaSue Chenoweth (starting in 2000) and Kim Nissen (2006 to 2011 and ’13).
Generally speaking, among the most prominent Girls Junior America’s Cup champions over the years have been impending World Golf Hall of Famer Lorena Ochoa from Mexico (a three-time winner), and fellow LPGA Tour veterans Brandie Burton, Pat Hurst and Dawn Coe-Jones, who recently passed away.