Arizona

Forest Highlands set to host U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship

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Renowned Arizona golf property Forest Highlands Golf Club has once again proven too appealing to pass up.

Forest Highlands, located just a few miles south of Flagstaff, will host its third USGA event when the 2014 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship takes place July 21-26 on the club’s Meadow Course.

The championship will be the first USGA event held on the newer Meadow Course, which sits among a dense throng of pine trees and features breathtaking vistas on virtually every hole. Forest Highlands’ Canyon Course hosted the 2006 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship and the 1996 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship.

July’s event will focus on a talented collection of the best young female golfers in the world. Those girls will be facing quite a challenge when they tee it up at Forest Highlands.

The Tom Weiskopf-designed Meadow Course, which opened in 1999, may be easy on the eyes, but it likely will significantly test the girls’ skills when the competition gets under way.

Featuring 81 bunkers, rough that is expected to be at least 2.5 inches long and greens that will be running 11.5-12 on the Stimpmeter, the course will be playing around 6,600-6,800 yards in length. Most USGA events for girls 17 and under are played at 6,200-6,300 yards. The northern Arizona altitude will help mitigate the length, but it would be surprising if the extreme distance didn’t play a significant role in the event.

“It will be an ultimate test of their game,” said the USGA’s Teresa Belmont, the tournament’s director.

“We want them to think their way around the golf course.”

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. All involved in putting on the event are focusing on making the event enjoyable for the girls, their families and all who plan on attending the Flagstaff area.

Flagstaff Mayor Jerry Nabours was quick to point out nearby attractions such as the San Francisco Peaks, a zipline course and an urban trail throughout the city.

Also, before play on Wednesday, the USGA, in conjunction with instructors from nearby courses, will be holding a free clinic for girls from Flagstaff, Prescott and surrounding areas.

“We want this event to be exceptional for the girls,” championship General Chairman John “Joc” Jacquay said.

Any amateur female golfer who will not have reached her 18th birthday by July 26 and has a Handicap Index not exceeding 18.4 can apply online. Entries close at 2 p.m. (Arizona time) on June 4. The USGA received 1,079 entries from girls from all over the world for the 2013 championship.

Sectional qualifying will take place at 35 sites between June 9-July 1. Pinnacle Peak Country Club in Scottsdale will host qualifying Wednesday, June 18.

Sectional qualifying will pare the field down to 156 participants, who will play two rounds of stroke play (July 21-22) to determine the 64-golfer field for single-elimination match play. The event will culminate with a 36-hole championship on Sunday, July 26, meaning the champion will have battled through eight rounds (nine if you count the 36-hole championship match as two rounds) in six days.

That deserving champion will win a gold medal to keep and custody of the Glenna Collett Vare Trophy for one year. The winner also will receive exemption from qualifying for all U.S. Girls’ Junior Championships prior to her 18th birthday and exemption from qualifying for the next two U.S. Women’s Amateur Championships.

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