Inside the gates at NCR Country Club, host of the 2022 U.S. Senior Women's Open

Major championship golf returns to southwest Ohio with legends like Annika Sorenstam teeing it up.
The downwhill par-5 10th on the South Course at NCR Country Club is protected by a small, challenging green.

KETTERING, Ohio - I can't wait to watch the U.S. Senior Women’s Open on the South Course at NCR Country Club this weekend.

I learned the game at NCR, where my parents are still members. It's always exciting to see a course you've played and love on TV and see how the professionals try to navigate their way around it. I'm sure the golfer in me will come out and I'll mutter a 'can't miss it there. That's dead!' when a player hits one left on no. 13 or right on hole 15. It's part of what makes golf great and unique to other professional sports. We get to see the best play where we've played.

This week's tournament features some of the greatest champions in the history of women’s golf. Annika Sorenstam looks to defend her title against Laura Davies, Helen Alfredsson and a field that consists of 10 past U.S. Women’s Open champs. It's just the fourth ever U.S. Senior Women's Open, so this is a major championship some golf fans still aren't familiar with yet. The tournament feels like a perfect match of a blossoming event held on an under-appreciated championship venue.

Live coverage of the championship can be watched on Peacock Saturday and Sunday afternoon and the rounds will re-air on Golf Channel in the evening both days. You can bet I'll be tuned in.

U.S. Senior Women's Open TV Schedule
Saturday: 3 p.m.-6 p.m. (Peacock); re-air from 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Golf Channel)
Sunday: 2:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. (Peacock); re-air from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. (Golf Channel)
* All times listed are EST.

NCR's History

Like most everybody else, you're probably wondering what 'NCR' means ... it stands for National Cash Register after the company that was headquartered in Dayton until 2009. The club, a 36-hole facility designed by Dick Wilson, was 'conceived and developed by Stanley Allyn during his tenure as president of National Cash Register Corporation' in the 1950s for the employees to use. Allyn was an avid golfer and huge proponent of providing his employees with recreational perks.

The South Course hosted the 1969 PGA Championship where a young Raymond Floyd beat Gary Player by one for his first career major. The 2022 U.S. Senior Women’s Open will be the fifth USGA event held at NCR. The list includes the 1986 U.S. Women's Open and the 2005 U.S. Senior Open, which was Arnold Palmer’s final senior major championship. Allen Doyle won the championship coming from nine back on Sunday with a final-round 63.

The tree-lined South Course is one of the famed Dick Wilson’s more underrated designs, a list that includes Bay Hill, several Cog Hill courses in Chicagoland, Royal Montreal, the Blue Monster at Trump National Doral Miami, Laurel Valley and others. There’s not a single water hazard on the course, but there are multiple greenside bunkers on every hole and fescue areas running along many fairways.

I was fortunate enough to grow up playing at NCR. I spent my summers from sunrise to sundown playing the North and South courses with my brothers and friends. The South Course kicked my teeth in more than a few times as a kid. I've grown to appreciate the dogleg-heavy layout more as I’ve gotten older. My favorite stretch is holes 3-6 because of the elevation changes, scoring variance and uniquely challenging greens. There's no better place to watch golf shots hit than the spot between the 4th and 6th green.

How It Plays

The South Course has plenty of character and is difficult throughout, but I think its toughest challenges come on the greens and the three par 5s - holes 5, 6 and 10 (this week the women will also play holes 1 and 16 as par 5s). I may be biased, but the signature 10th hole is still the best hole I’ve ever played. The dogleg-right, downhill par 5 ends at a severe green that is heavily protected by bunkers. It is a great risk-reward hole and will play a huge role in deciding who holds the trophy at the end of the week.

The par-5 6th on the South Course at NCR Country Club is a downhill dogleg right hole with a green that runs severely from back right to front left.

The course still plays true to Wilson's 1954 design despite small tweaks and additions over the past 20 years. A new set of back tees was added to beef up the course in advance of the 2005 U.S. Senior Open. It made the par 71 a stiffer test playing at more than 7,000 yards, but it's still probably not long enough to test the guys on the PGA Tour. In 2013, the green complexes were completely redone with new bentgrass surfaces. The new greens look better visually and kept the same topography (thankfully all my old reads still work today). In 2016, a handful of new fairway bunkers were added to four holes on the front nine to make them more difficult tee shots for the modern game. Finally, just in the past few years, a set of forward tees were put in, making the course much more playable for many of the members.

Some of those new tees will come into play this week for the women as they will play the course as a par 73 from 6,199 yards. I'm intrigued to see what Mike Whan and the USGA do with the course. As one of the newest USGA events, the U.S. Senior Women's Open is still trying to find its footing. Qualifier Pat Shriver expects great things. "You can tell that (Whan) understands and appreciates women’s golf," she said. "He’s so good for (setting up) this tournament."

Shriver living "the American Dream"

Pat Shriver poses with her husband and caddie, Bill, before her second U.S. Women's Senior Open this week in Ohio.

Qualifiers for Open Championships run by the USGA or R&A often end up being some of the best stories. Shriver is no exception. The PGA Professional and co-owner of Cove Cay Golf Club in Clearwater, Fla., is competing in her second U.S. Senior Women’s Open this week. Pat and her husband, Bill, who is also a PGA Professional, bought Cove Cay eight years ago and have been running it ever since. "We’re the American dream," she said. "We took something that was run down and ready to close and turned it into something beautiful."

Pat and Bill completely renovated the course and took it from a place where tees couldn’t even go in the ground to what it is today. Now the whole club, which is thriving due to Pat and Bill’s work and the COVID pandemic golf boom, is cheering her on this week. "For a women’s senior golfer like myself to have a chance later in life … for me to get to do something like this is such a thrill, and my whole club is excited for me."

The biggest thrill will be the opportunity to play a practice round with defending champion and 10-time LPGA major champion Annika Sorenstam on Tuesday. "It’s going to be the highlight of the week," Pat admitted. While Sorenstam may have not been filling in doing dishes at her club like Pat was last weekend due to a staff shortage, they both will start the tournament this week at even par with the same opportunity ahead of them.

Drake Dunaway grew up in Dayton, Ohio, where he started playing golf at a young age before playing collegiately at DePauw University. Recently he’s lived in Phoenix and now in Orlando, where he still tries to play once or twice a week. He’s worked in golf since 2016 and joined the GolfPass team in 2019. Follow him on Twitter @drake_dunaway
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Inside the gates at NCR Country Club, host of the 2022 U.S. Senior Women's Open