DALLAS – Madison Goldberg used breathing techniques to steady herself during Tuesday’s Qualifying Round in the 98th Women’s Texas Amateur at Bent Tree Country Club. The calming tactics worked, as the Austin native shot a 1-under-par 70 to earn Medalist Honors and the No. 1 seed in the Championship Bracket at the state’s oldest women’s amateur championship.
On a typical sun-splashed summer day in north Texas, Goldberg and the other talented amateurs in the field endured severe heat and 10-15 mph winds during their rounds. By 2 p.m., the temperature reached 98 degrees with a Heat Index of 108. The mercury crested around 4 p.m. at 100 degrees. Goldberg said staying in the moment and relying on her ball-striking helped her navigate through the challenging conditions.
“My irons were piercing through the wind pretty nicely this morning, and my putting was pretty good from six feet and in,” said Goldberg, a 19-year-old sophomore at Southwestern University in Georgetown. “I just took really deep breaths and focused on every shot like it was my first.”
In addition to winning the overall Medalist Honors, Goldberg took home the Junior Medalist award for players ages 19 and younger. Mina Hardin, a five-time winner of the Women’s Texas Amateur, won Senior Medalist honors for players ages 50 and older. Hardin, who won the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur in 2010 and was inducted into Texas Golf Hall of Fame in 2012, finished with a 6-over 77 on Tuesday.            
Arlington’s Kate Tran, a junior at UT-Arlington, finished second overall in the Qualifying Round. She made two birdies to balance a pair of bogeys on her way to an even-par 71. Tran grabbed the No. 2 overall seed in the Championship Bracket. Starting Wednesday morning, the event turns to match play; the 32 players with the lowest scores in Qualifying advanced to the Championship Bracket. The rest of the field was divided into flights based off the players’ GHIN Handicap Indexes.
Jennie Park, a TCU sophomore from Carrollton, shared third place in Qualifying with Julia Gregg, an Arkansas freshman from Farmers Branch, and Hanna Alberto, a Sam Houston State senior from Kingwood. Park, Gregg and Alberto all came in with scores of 1-over 72.
Bent Tree Country Club was in immaculate condition, as it always is when it hosts TGA Championships. This is the third time the Dallas club has hosted the Women’s Texas Amateur; Bent Tree also welcomed the 2014 and 1993 editions. Through the years, Bent Tree has hosted a number of TGA Major Championships, including the 106th Texas Amateur in 2015, the 2011 Texas Senior Amateur, 2006 Texas Mid-Amateur Match Play and the 1991 Texas Mid-Amateur.
Course Superintendent Blake Cain and his crew had their work cut out for them in preparation for this week’s championship. Bent Tree was deluged with more than 13 inches of rain in June. The property also suffered extensive tree damage during the violent storms that blew through north Dallas in the past month.
“We lost over 85 trees,” said Daniel Couglan, Bent Tree’s Head Golf Professional. “A large majority of the cleanup was done in-house by Blake and his team. It truly was something to behold to get it in the condition it is now from what it looked like.”
Bent Tree was as pure as ever on Tuesday. The par-71 championship test played to 6,255 yards for the Qualifying Round.
This week’s championship is a family affair for Women’s TGA veteran Suzzette Kirchner and her granddaughter Ryleigh McClain. Kirchner, who just turned 70 and lives in Spring, has played in more than dozen Women’s Texas Amateurs over the years. She said she tries to never miss a TGA Women’s event. McClain, a 15-year-old sophomore at Kingwood High School, is playing in her first Women’s TGA Championship.
It was Kirchner’s idea for McClain to play in the Women’s Texas Amateur. McClain has been getting more and more serious about competitive golf, and Kirchner knew this week’s experience would benefit her granddaughter.
As for advice, Kirchner kept it simple: “I told her to stay in the middle of the fairways and have fun.”
McClain, whose mother is Aurora Kirchner-McClain, the Director of Instruction of the Kingwood Golf Advantage School outside of Houston, was excited to play her first competitive round in a TGA Women’s event. The fact that her grandmother is in the field only made it more special, she said.
“It’s pretty fun,” McClain said. “It shows that golf is a sport for all ages. It’s a common bond between my grandma and me.”
Kirchner-McClain might be the most excited for her family this week. The former Texas A&M standout said she’s proud of her daughter’s ambition and grateful that her mom suggested the idea.
“I think it’s so awesome,” Kirchner-McClain said. “My mom told Ryleigh, ‘Come out and learn the ropes.’ I know it’s going to be a great experience for both of them.”
The 98th Women’s Texas Amateur continues Wednesday at 8 a.m. with the match play portion of the championship. The Championship Bracket gets underway with the Round of 32, followed by the Round of 16 in the afternoon. For more information on this championship, click here.