Earlier this month, Sarah Ingram was hovering just off the side of the first tee box at Augusta National. Several young women acknowledged her as they made their way inside the ropes for the start of the final round of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur — some with a fist bump, some with a big smile.
Ingram is well known to them as the U.S. Curtis Cup captain for this fall’s matches in Wales (postponed from June 2020). In all, six of the 12 women invited to a winter practice session for Curtis Cup hopefuls had a tee time at Augusta National that day.
A three-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion herself, Ingram is something of an inspiration to the next generation. But she’s inspired by them too, so much so that she resurrected her amateur career.
Until last year’s Tennessee Senior Women’s Amateur, Ingram hadn’t won a golf tournament since 1994, the year of her last Women’s Mid-Amateur title.
On Wednesday, she wrapped up the inaugural Ladies National Golf Association Senior Championship. Ingram played 54 holes at Anthem Golf Club in 10 over to finish six shots ahead of runner-up Shelly Haywood.
“Three years ago after the Golf Club of Tennessee hosted the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 2018, I was kind of inspired by the girls and felt like it was time for me to maybe get back to the game,” said Ingram, who plays and practices out of the Golf Club of Tennessee. “I had missed some of my friends from golf and missed the competition and it’s been fun trying to build my game back up.”
One of the major revelations has been just how hard this game is – just how much time it takes to build back.
Ingram has concentrated specifically on trying to be patient with herself, and that was one of the major wins from the week in Arizona. Ingram led from the first round on.
“I tried to have the same mindset all week, just to be patient with myself, not get too worked up if I got multiple bogeys or a double bogey,” she said. “It also helped today especially, I felt like I definitely didn’t – had a little more trouble, I’ve got to keep it together. If I can shoot around 75, 76, I’ll have a good chance of winning. I can’t worry about people doing better than that. Just tried to stay loose and calm and also be brave and not be scared.”
Since getting to know some of the game’s top younger amateurs – Ingram has now been through the Curtis Cup practice session drill twice, considering that she prepped for a 2020 match before it was canceled – she has also benefited from watching their games.
“I tried to use things that I watched this week just to be a little more fearless on the course and to not let bad shots or bad holes bother me,” she said. “They’re all really good about that.”
Before Ingram ever won the title, texts were coming in from her Curtis Cup hopefuls. They had an eye on what the captain was doing this week.
The LNGA event also include a mid-amateur division, and both 54-hole events were in their inaugural year. When the long-running women’s golf organization announced it was creating this event, Ingram – like many of her peers – signed up immediately.
“It’s fun to have that competition, kind of keeps you wanting to get up in the morning and practice and play and get all the juices flowing,” she said.
In the mid-amateur division, a former Curtis Cup player captured the event by a five-stroke margin. Meghan Stasi, who played for the victorious American squad in the 2008 matches at the Old Course at St. Andrews, was 6 over. Dawn Woodard, who Stasi will partner with in next week’s U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, and Amanda Jacobs were runners-up at 11 over.
“This win is right up there with them all,” said Stasi, who has won numerous titles in Florida and Pennsylvania in addition to four U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur titles. “A win any time is great now. There are just so many great players now.”