Lisa McGill has competed at elite levels of amateur golf for more than three decades. Recently, she had the opportunity to stand alongside the finest players in the world when she teed it up in the second-ever U.S. Senior Women’s Open Championship.
The Chestnut Hill resident was one of 120 contestants who was on hand for the championship at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in Pine Needles, NC.
The Women’s Open marked McGill’s 37th appearance in a United States Golf Association national championship. In 2007, she reached the semifinals of the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship. A decade later, she reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur. But competing in the Senior Women’s Open, and event for players age 50 and over that didn’t even exist until last year, was a unique experience, from playing a practice round with LPGA icon Juli Inkster, to being paired with former tour players Christa Johnson and Sue Ginter, to watching some of the greatest players in the world up close.
It was so much fun,” McGill said. “Any time you’re playing in a USGA event, they’re tremendous. However, it was a step up because you’re playing with the pros and every facet of it was unbelievable.”
Apart from playing with the professionals, McGill enjoyed interacting with her fellow competitors and hearing their stories.
“They all these stories and they haven’t seen each other in so long,” she said. “I think the camaraderie is really something because everybody has been out there so long. It’s not like you’re a 16-year old and you have your nose to the grindstone. (The professionals) have done the grinding.”
McGill, who plays out of Sunnybrook Golf Club in Plymouth Meeting, acknowledged there was less pressure on her than was faced by the professionals in the field, who were playing for a $1 million purse.
“When they missed a putt it had more of an impact for them than it would for me,” she said. “I get upset if I miss it but there’s no dollar value attached to it.”
McGill shot a respectable 5-over par 76 in the opening round that left her tied with the lowest score among the 34 amateurs in the field. She faltered the next day however, and her 82 put her at 158 for 36 holes, one shot outside the cut line.
“The first day I made great up and downs,” McGill said. “My short game was there, my putting was great.
“The second day, I would say, was more of the opposite I don’t know what it was. I was trying to correct myself and I couldn’t. It was just one of those days.”
McGill had no complaints about the setup of the golf course. “The golf course was very fair,” she said. “The fairways were generous the sight lines were great. So, that wasn’t the problem. I think most gals would say it was the green complexes.
“If I was going to be anything I would be short of the green and I would chip up. A lot of the girls were putting from off the green and they were successful at it.”
McGill benefitted from observing the swings of the professionals. “Their swings are so solid,” she said. “Mine tends to be a little loose. There was no loose movement in their swings. I was just trying to collect things through osmosis.”
But most of all, McGill wanted to savor the experience of competing for a national championship alongside the finest senior golfers in the world. “I was absolutely trying to embrace the whole thing,” she said. “Who knows if you’re going to get back there?”