As for the tournament, its deep into August in the Northeast. And its deep into a drought thats gripping the region like a vise.
The land is thirsty.
The summer, said Steve Shadle, superintendint at The Berkleigh C.C. in Kutztown, PA, has been brutal.
Shadle and his staff have been limited to watering only the tees, greens and fairways. The rough is brown.
But overall, the golf course is in superb condition.
It looks great, said Michelle Redman, a past champ.
The greens are surprisingly receptive. Shadles been using a wetting agent and fertilizer program all year, as well as hand watering the surfaces. Putts roll true here, and scores could be deep into red numbers as short as its playing.
As for the players, they tend not to immerse themselves in the problems of every region to which they travel. Hotels, golf courses and cities, especially late in a season, begin to run together week to week. So theirs is a thirst of a different kind. A few in particular are eager to drink from the Solheim cup.
The teams finalized after next weeks State Farm Rail Classic. Kelli Keuhne and Dorothy Delasin, both entered here, are on the bubble. Although shes yet to formally lock down a berth on the team which will try to win back the Cup next month at Interlachen in Minneapolis, Kuehne has impressed the captain.
Shes a firebrand, Patti Sheehan told me on Monday.
A player earns points for a top-10 finish, which is good, because winning will be difficult in a field which includes Se Ri Pak and Karrie Webb. Thanks to a $400,000 purse increase, eight out of the top 10 on the money list are entered, versus just two of 10 a year ago. Laura Diaz, Lorie Kane, Mi Hyun Kim and Rachel Teske are also teeing it up, as well as Natalie Gulbis and Beth Bauer, dueling for Rookie of the Year honors.
Of course, Betsy King has the busiest week of all, playing and mingling at the event that bears her name. Betsy grew up in nearby Limekiln. Her brother, Lee, once captured the club championship here at The Berkleigh. This was also my home course, so the weeks a special one for me, especially with Nancy Lopez alongside in the booth.
Im a little nervous, Nancy admitted. Suddenly golf looks really easy! But Im truly looking forward to the new experience. Ive been in the winners circle and obviously Ive had my disappointments. What Im hoping to be able to do is to describe the feeling the players have, the pressure they may be dealing with and what they might be thinking. That was my life for a long time, she said.
But lifes changed for me, Nancy added a bit wistfully. I just dropped off my oldest at Auburn, so with the kids growing up and my playing career winding down, Im going down another fairway right now and I hope to keep it in the middle in this life, she said, bursting out in laughter, the room filled with smiling faces.
So, Nancy Lopez will now talk about the game she played so magnificently for so long. Time sits still for no one, not even the rare ones who seem forever young.
Full Coverage of the First Union Betsy King Classic
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