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Even after first round struggles, women having a blast at Am Tour Championships

Golf couple
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Kathy Provazek and Jeff Ross are both competing in the Golf Channel Am Tour National Championships in Ponte Vedra Beach. 

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Many of the players here at the Golf Channel Am Tour Championships are making a week of it in the Jacksonville area, but Kathy Provazek and husband Jeff Ross are doubling their pleasure. That's because they're both competing, but in different divisions that don't play at the same time.

Ross, 59, played in last week's senior championship, tying for eighth in the Hogan Flight, while 49-year-old Provazek just completed her first round on Monday on the Ocean Course at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club. The Seattle couple arrived on Sept. 1 and don't leave until Friday. They've been playing in this event for the past five years.

'It's great,' said Ross, who has been married to Provazek for seven years now. 'We get to play the same courses. She'll ask me about the courses, and then I'll hear about every shot on every hole.'

Both players have similar handicap indexes. Ross is a 7.4 and Provazek is a 7.2, though she didn't have a good round on Monday, shooting 97 when 'everything and anything pretty much went wrong,' she said.

'We have so much fun doing this together,' Provazek said. 'And we're competitive with each other.'

Second marriages for both, Ross and Provazek were set up on a blind golf date at a nine-hole couples outing at their home club, Fairwood Golf & Country Club in Renton, Wash. Three holes into the date, they knew they had chemistry, and the rest has been history.

Provazek, a retired radiation therapist, gets to play about every day. Ross wishes he could, but still works as a financial advisor, which he will do remotely while his wife competes this week. In fact, he has an overnight business trip planned for Chicago on Wednesday, but will return to see how his bride fares on the final day.

Next year, the two will have a shorter stay, however, as Provazek will turn 50 in time to play in the senior division at the Golf Channel Am Tour Championships slated for PGA West in La Quinta, Calif.

16 women take on the men at Am Tour National Championships


Am Tour competitor Robyn James has colorful headcovers and names for her clubs. 

Provazek is one of just 16 women in the field this week, and for the most part, they're treated no differently than the men, though they do get to play from shorter tees. But not much shorter. The yardages, for example, in the Palmer Flight on the two courses at the TPC Sawgrass are about 6,100 yards, which can make for some long approach shots.

Robyn James found that out firsthand on the Dye Valley Course at the TPC Sawgrass on Monday. Not only did it play long, but the rough was up as well, making for a difficult day for the 2-handicap from Shelby, N.C. 

James struggled to a 93 with several bad breaks, including having the ball fall of the tee right in the middle of her downswing on one hole. She barely nicked the ball as it came off the tee, and the ball traveled just a few feet.

'I just got my putt out of the way early,' she said with a laugh.

She also does something else unusual: She names her clubs and if you look at her notes during a round, each shot is noted by their proper nouns. For example, her driver is 'Max,' and her 7-iron is 'Sally,' the latter of which has been responsible for an eagle as well as a hole-in-one. In case you're wondering, she doesn't name her golf balls.

'I find it far easier to have a relationship with my clubs,' she said. 'They're going home with me at the end of the day.'