LPGA Professional Joanne Winter's dream is a reality thanks to many young women
Silver Belle: Then and Now By Robyn Noll
The Joanne Winter Arizona Silver Belle Championship has become nationally recognized as one of the premier events for young women amateurs. This year’s event consists of 54 holes of stroke play, and will be conducted at ASU’s Karsten Golf Course from December 28-30. Entrants from around the world are welcome, and are selected based on rankings from a number of sources including the Junior Golf Scoreboard, AJGA Polo Ranking, Golfweek Amateur Rankings and World Amateur Golf Rankings. Currently, to minimize the effects of short winter days and potential weather delays, the field has been reduced from 112 to 96 to avoid playing past sunset.
In the early years the Silver Belle was usually conducted in summer months to take advantage of free or reduced green fees. But former Silver Belle President Tina Huiskamp explains that “The tournament grew into a large destination for high school, college, and even foreign players. We moved the date to the winter holidays to accommodate these players with prep or NCAA restrictions. Families came, then stayed for holiday or football games. The Silver Belle has become a great tourney for young women… a win ─ even a good finish ─ is a high mark for any girl.” In fact college recruiters, who can scout potential players and then enjoy an Arizona holiday vacation, have become one of the largest groups of spectators.
Now approaching 50 years, the Silver Belle exists because of three key elements: the visionary who breathed life into it, the volunteers who have nurtured its development, and the players of great skill and character who have given it an outstanding reputation.