For the second time in its 54-year history, the Connecticut Women’s Amateur will be played at Oronoque Country Club in Stratford, a 1972 Desmond Muirhead design that hosted the 2010 Amateur, won by Timberlin's Erica Barnes. For the first time it will be played over 36 holes on July 24-25.
English-born Muirhead sometimes went far afield to give a golf course its own personality. He is known, for example, for a green shaped like a fish with shark teeth bunkers surrounding it. But he was a respected designer who could play it straight, too. With Jack Nicklaus, he is responsible for Muirfield Village in Ohio.
In Oronoque Muirhead built a conventional, demanding golf course whose defenses are its narrow fairways and perplexing greens. Barnes' winning 2010 score of 242, for example, tied for the highest in the Amateur's history. Length will not be an overwhelming factor at Oronoque—it's longest tees are just shy of 6600 yards—but patience will be, and the amateurs, young and old, will be measured on it. This is a course that once made Golf Digest’s list of toughest tracks.
Among the younger players, defending champion Kyra Cox, Sarah Houle of Sandy Hook, Alexandra Sazhin of the Golf Performance Center and Meghan Mitchell of Greenwich, who shared junior honors with Elizabeth Garfield of Tashua Knolls, are considered favorites should they compete.
Given her familiarity with the golf course, Oronoque member Debbie Johnson is a player to watch. Johnson won the Senior Division of the Amateur at Hartford Golf Club last year and later qualified for the US Women’s Senior Amateur. Last year’s Player of the Year Jen Holland, who qualified for two national events, and whose unflappable nature is a perfect match for Oronoque, and Jean Sennett who captured the Super Senior and finished 12th overall, will also be contenders. 2017 Amateur Champion Autumn Serruta, who finished T10 last year, Alexa Brown who was 4th and Vienna Winalski in 5th shouldn’t be overlooked.