By Rick Woelfel
In Greek mythology, the Elysian Fields were a place where those deemed worthy could rest from their labors on Earth and engage in an occupation or pastime they enjoyed.
The 120th playing of the Philadelphia Women’s Amateur championship offered the same sort of blissful, celebratory atmosphere.
The fact that Samantha Perrotta of Bordentown, N.J. won the championship by defeating Newtown Square native Alyssa Roland on the fourth extra hole (the 40th) in Thursday’s final at Old York Road Country Club in Spring House, as significant as it was, was in a sense beside the point.
The women who teed it up at the start of the week seemed elated to simply being able to compete. Virtually the entire first half of the Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia’s tournament schedule was cancelled because of the COViD-19 pandemic.
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Laura Hammond, the WGAP’s executive director, said many of the players in the field viewed the week as an occasion to reconnect with old friends and make new ones, “Most of them are missing the friendships that they’ve made over the years playing in these tournaments,” she said. “With the quarantine, they weren’t able to even be out on a golf course, let alone be out with people they’re competing against. It put everything I think in perspective and they’re grateful for the opportunity.”
Ellen Miller plays out of Gulph Mills Golf Club in King of Prussia. She regularly represents her club in the WGAP’s team match competition each spring but those matches were cancelled this year and she was eagerly anticipating the Women’s Amateur.
“It’s so much fun,” she said. “We are lucky that (the host club) let us do this and take all the time and be together. It’s really a good feeling.”
The field for this year’s Women’s Amateur was larger than what it’s been in recent years. A total of 54 players were on the tee sheet; 50 wound up completing the opening round.
Miller says the players were looking forward to it. “I think everybody was just anxious to play a different course and see people,” she said, “and just play golf. So, I think people who were nervous to enter an event like this threw it to the wind and said ‘Let’s go play a different course and have fun.
Social distancing protocols were in place all week. The flagsticks were left in the cups all week and players were instructed not to touch them.
Hammond praised the membership at Old York Road for their willingness to host the event. “The fact that Old York Road kept these dates for us and was willing to have these women come play this amazing golf course is huge for us,” she said.”
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