The Kahkwa Club At A Glance
U.S. Women’s Amateur
The Kahkwa Club, Erie, Pa.
Yardage: 6,356 yards
Par: 36-36 – 72
Defending Champion: Virada Nirapathpongporn
Opened: 1917 (club dates back to 1893)
Designer: Donald Ross
Previous Championships: This is the club’s second USGA competition, following the 1971 U.S. Women’s Open won by JoAnne Gunderson Carner.
Why It’s Right: Any national championship waged on a Donald Ross course is sure to provide a challenge. Two other Ross designs (Holston Hills and Orchards Golf Club) are hosting USGA competitions this year. Kahkwa, built from the wealth of the iron industry fortunes in industrial-era Erie, was also one of the first 100 clubs in the U.S.
Renovation Project: Architect Ron Forse of Westmoreland County and Frontier Construction restored parts of the course, returning some of the original Ross design. They completely reconstructed the 17th and 18th greens, added 22 tees, restored 45 bunkers in the traditional style and added 19 new bunkers.
Fast Fact: Every Women’s Amateur champion since 1974 has turned professional, including defending champion Virada Nirapathpongporn, who did so after completing her college eligibility this past spring at Duke University.
Bring Your Short Game: One of the primary features of the course, which was built on rolling terrain with tree-lined fairways, is fast, sloping greens and greenside bunkers. That means a premium will be placed on putting and avoiding pitfalls around the green complexes.
Local Hero: Although not a member of Kahkwa, Erie is the hometown of former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, who is now the Director of Homeland Security.
Pennsylvania Turnpike: For the first time in Women’s Amateur history, the event is being staged in the same state in back-to-back years. Philadelphia Country Club was the host in 2003 and the western part of the Keystone State takes center stage in ’04.