- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Between the 17th and 18th greens at the Cascades course in Hot Springs, Va. there is a pond, and near it is a sign that instructs: ALL FISH TO BE RELEASED UNHARMED. USE BARBLESS HOOKS ONLY. It is too bad the sign did not also demand solicitude on behalf of visiting ladies, for last week the British Curtis Cup team played the two holes in 20 over par, lost eight matches there and threw the cup to the rainbow trout.
It is not so much that the British really expected to beat the older, more experienced Americans, but with their pluck and youth, and pars on those final holes, they would have added to England's glories of the week by winning 10 to 8 instead of losing 13 to 5. And even as things were, pond and all, they did surprisingly well in this 34-year-old competition between the best women amateur golfers of the U.S. and Great Britain.
The Curtis Cup is not a cup at all. Appropriately, considering the number of American victories in the competition (10), it is a Paul Revere silver bowl. Only twice since 1932, when the prize was donated by two Boston spinsters, the Misses Harriot and Margaret Curtis, has Great Britain managed to win it.
The site of this year's matches, The Homestead, is a place where Miss Margaret would have felt at home and might well have lit up her usual after-dinner pipe. Set deep in the Allegheny Mountains, the hotel has retained the opulence and old-world ways it had as a 19th century spa. It opened in 1846 asserting that its mineral springs would cure gout, dysentery, jaundice, deafness and loss of voice. These claims have been watered down a bit, but little else has changed.
"It is not what I expected," one of the British Curtis Cuppers said. "It looks a bit like Gleneagles." Another took one long look and said, "It's Tara in Gone with the Wind."
The British arrived in Hot Springs seven days before the Americans and quickly became accustomed to the short, British-type course. The night before play began, Mrs. Dora Bolton, the British captain, said: "We may have been here too long. We could be too acclimated."
Only three of the British team had played in the Curtis Cup before. Angela Bonallack, an English amateur winner, was a veteran of five matches. The other two were Mrs. I. C. Robertson of Scotland and vivacious and voluble Susan Armitage, a 23-year-old hairdresser from the Midlands. "Whatever comes into her head, comes right out," said a member of the U.S. team. It is an endearing characteristic, and one that made her the most popular player at Hot Springs.
The remainder of the British might have been inexperienced, but they were a happy-go-lucky lot and young enough to be unimpressed by the fact that the American team members had won among them five U.S. and one British amateur championships.
There was 20-year-old Pamela Tredinnick, a sparky, blue-eyed part-time salesgirl in a London department store. A few months ago she and three golfing roommates rocked the Royal and Ancient by recording a song she describes as being about "chasing men." The lyrics begin: "We need four jolly bachelors, four handsome men indeed."
The record has not been released, because, as Pam says, "the R & A asked us to make some adjustments."