A month ago the names on the signs at the hitting stations read like a U.S. Women's Open honor roll. There were Susie Berning and Hollis Stacy, who won three Opens each; JoAnne Carner and Patty Sheehan, both two-time champions; Amy Alcott, Janet Anderson, Jerilyn Britz, Sandra Haynie and Sandra Palmer, all winners; and yours truly, the 1983 titlist. Funny, though, the range wasn't at the Women's Open in Southern Pines, N.C. It was at the Hy-Vee Classic—one of three events this year on the Women's Senior tour—at Hyperion Field Club in Johnston, Iowa. More Open winners played at the Hy-Vee than played at the Open, but that was to be expected. What's surprising is that the USGA has never shown any interest in creating a U.S. Senior Women's Open even though we old-timers have been pleading for one for years.
The Hy-Vee gave us red-carpet treatment, and it was great to see that some people appreciate all we've done for golf. Despite cold and rainy weather, 12,000 fans sloshed around for the two-day event, which I'm sure made the LPGA envious. You'd think the USGA would jump at the chance to use our drawing power and make a buck by starting a Senior Women's Open. It's not as if we're asking for the world—only 54 holes and a $500,000 purse with an age minimum of 45. Of course, the USGA has never been keen on original ideas. The Women's Open was the brainchild of Hope Seignious, founder of the Women's Professional Golfers Association, who created the tournament in 1946. The USGA didn't take over until 1953.
If I play well enough to earn an exemption to the '02 Women's Open, I'm going to take a pass. Maybe then the USGA will take notice and give us seniors our due.