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Pleasanton’s


Paula Creamer raised the U.S. Women’s Open trophy in 2010.


got on shorter courses and you had to be 3-under. It took me a little while to learn how to keep going. “But I really do think it helped


me win those U.S. Amateurs and the U.S. Open, because par was a good score at Pasatiempo. It definitely groomed me.”


This helps explain the parade of top


players to emerge from Northern Cali- fornia over the years. Good weather allows for year-round play—well, maybe not in El Niño winters—and old, stout courses offer demanding tests. Many of those tracks are tight and


tree-lined, requiring players to hit accurate shots or endure the conse- quences. That’s ideal preparation for USGA events, and it’s probably no coincidence so many NorCal players have thrived on that national stage. Inkster, Cockerill and Hurst com- bined to win the Women’s Amateur six times in 11 years (1980-90). Inkster later added two U.S. Women’s Open titles (1999 and 2002), and Creamer


players runs deep, from Inkster and Patty Sheehan to Hurst and, yep, Creamer. That long-ago, wide-eyed kid now is a 10-time LPGA winner and one of the game’s most popular and recognizable players. But the roll call in our little corner


of the world stretches beyond the biggest names. Also consider LPGA winners Christina Kim and Natalie Gulbis, still active on tour; Dorothy Delasin, an accomplished amateur before she picked up four LPGA victories; two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Kay Cockerill, now a Golf Channel broadcaster; or, dipping farther back, two-time U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur winner Loma Smith. Northern California played


a prominent role in the story of women’s golf, well before America’s national championship decided to make its long-overdue return in the summer of 2016.


sports—basketball, track, swimming, softball, tennis—before seriously picking up golf at age 15. She always had abundant athletic ability, obviously, and fierce determination. Those are prerequisites to winning the U.S. Women’s Amateur in three consecutive years, plus pocket- ing 31 LPGA victories, includ- ing seven major championships. Another factor: Inkster honed


I


her game on the classic Dr. Alister MacKenzie course outside her childhood backyard. “When I played in college (at


San Jose State), I had to learn to shoot under par,” she said. “If I shot one or two over at Pasatiempo, I thought I was doing well. Then you


Two-time U.S. Women’s Open winner Patty Sheehan played collegiately at San Jose State.


SPRING 2016 / NCGA.ORG / 41


nkster was three when her par- ents moved into a house along the 14th fairway at Pasatiempo. But she played several other


PHOTOS: USGA


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