Champions Retreat returns to spotlight for Augusta National Women's Amateur
After an unforeseen hiatus, the best amateur women golfers in the world will once again converge on Champions Retreat.
The second Augusta National Women's Amateur is set to begin Wednesday, and while the argument could be made that Jennifer Kupcho made these courses look easy in 2019, they offer many challenges.
Champions Retreat is comprised of three courses, the Island, Bluff and Creek nines, designed by golf legends Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player. Palmer’s passing in 2016 gives Champions Retreat the distinction as the last of its kind, in that regard.
General Manager Cameron Wiebe noted the courses were built to challenge a golfer’s game in the same way Augusta National has over the years.
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“The quality and caliber of golf here is both a fair test for the women who come from all around the world, but also a strong test,” he said. “This particular golf course will challenge many aspects of your game. Your accuracy off the tee, your precision from the fairway into the greens and your ability to be creative in your short game around each of the greens.”
The Island and Bluff nines will be used for the ANWA.
“Because the Creek nine winds through the neighborhood, there may have been some consideration to security and how that element plays a role. For that reason, it made sense the tournament was going to be played on Island and Bluff,” he said. “Also some elements of the short game and practice facility are actually tied to the Creek nine, so the driving range, putting green and ninth green on Creek can all be used for preparation for the players. It just worked logistically to keep everything on that side for practice.”
The Island nine, designed by Palmer, is open and spacious. It provides inviting scenery and gives the golfer considerable room to work. The Bluff, on the other hand, is designed by Nicklaus and built for the high-risk, high-reward approach.
And that's just the start of the challenges for many players in the field.
“One of the most noteworthy elements in which each of these players will have to adjust, if they’re not from the southeastern United States, would be Bermuda grass. The requirement that Bermuda grass puts on your ball striking, short game, shot placement and creativity is unlike any other grass. That’s likely the first thing most of the women will face as a challenge,” Wiebe said.
“The second is the firmness and speed of the green surfaces here at Champions Retreat and Augusta National. It’s well documented that the Masters Tournament has very slippery greens and it challenges the best players in the world. We prepare our green surfaces to as close to what they have at Augusta National.”