Sherando grad Hall wins USGA Women’s Mid-Amateur qualifier

Hilary Hall, left, receives her medal from Laura Nochta of the Massachusetts Golf Association. Hall, a 2005 Sherando graduate, won the USGA Women's Mid-Amateur qualifier last week in Canton, Massachusetts. Hall will play in the USGA Women's Mid-Amateur in Naples, Florida, in October. Courtesy photo/Hilary Hall

Hilary (Armel) Hall wanted to challenge herself a little bit more this year. Earlier this week it paid off for her as she won the United States Golf Association Mid-Amateur Regional Qualifier in Canton Massachusetts.

Hall, a 2005 Sherando graduate, shot a 3-over par 75 on Tuesday to win the event and qualify for 2017 USGA Women’s Mid-Amateur tournament in Naples, Florida. The tournament will be held at Quail Creek Country Club on Oct. Oct. 7-12.

Hall, who now lives in Dublin, Ireland, has been playing in tournaments in Ireland for a few years, but said she wanted to play in different tourneys this year.

“When Iain, my husband and caddy, and I sat down and looked at the 2017 schedule back in January, we knew that we wanted to play more international events and really try to challenge ourselves this year,” Hall said. “Due to scheduling conflicts with work, the Mid-Am was the only event which fit. Plus, we thought it would be nice to be in Florida in October.”

She won the tournament by one shot. There were 22 competitors in the event and the top six all advanced to the tournament in Florida.

From left, Jay Armel, Hilary Hall, Stuart Armel and Iain Hall, pose after Hilary Hall won the USGA Women's Mid-Amateur qualifier last week in Canton, Massachusetts. Courtesy photo/Hilary Hall

Hall said one of the reasons they chose the qualifier in Blue Hill Country Club in Canton, Massachusetts, was she thought it would be similar to the courses she plays on in Ireland. However, she said she wasn’t sure how it would work out.

“Turns out the course was perfect in every aspect from the layout suiting my game, to the conditions of the greens,” Hall said. “We are quite pleased with how I played. There was never a time in which we were too far out of position or in danger of making a big number. On such a tight course, it was important to have a good strategy and have smart course management. We did that all day long and it worked out in the end.”

Hall played golf at the collegiate level at Queens (University of Charlotte North Carolina). She said after she graduated from there in 2009 she thought her golf career was over.

She said that after she moved to Dublin, she began to get the itch to play golf again competitively.

“I signed up for a single event in 2014 and asked my husband to caddy for me,” Hall said. “He agreed and the rest is history. The most fun event of the year is called the Interprovincial Championships. Each province, there are four in the country, selects seven women to take part in a series of Ryder Cup-style matches over three days in July. The last two years I have been fortunate enough to represent Connacht.”

She said she enjoys playing in the courses in Ireland, in part because the weather varies so much. She said she’s learned to play in so many different conditions.

Hall said despite the weather most of the courses in Ireland are comparable to the ones in the Shenandoah Valley.

“My hands-down favorite here, Cork Golf Club, is a mix of Winchester (Country Club), Shenandoah Valley (Golf Club) and Carper’s Valley,” Hall said.

Hall said it’s also been very nice having her husband as a caddy for her.

“The biggest advantage has been having my husband on my bag and one of my coaches,” Hall said. “He and I are total opposites and he augments my weaknesses.”

She said that one of her goals is to play at every golf course in Ireland, as well as becoming a plus-handicap and being selected to the Curtis Cup. The Curtis Cup is an international team competition that pits top amateur golfers from the U.S. against players from Great Britain and Ireland.

Hall said she’s excited to play in the tournament in October. She will be one of 132 competitors from all over the U.S. There will be two rounds of stroke play, which will then be followed by match play after the field is cut to 64.

“This will be our first USGA Championship and it should be a ton of fun,” Hall said. “My impression of this event is that it’s tailor-made for women in my position – played in college, are in the work force now, but still want to compete at a high level. I have a feeling it’ll be like being at a massive college tournament again.”

Golf has always been a part of Hall’s life and she said she feels blessed that she still gets to compete at a high level and give back to the game as well.

Hall said at the beginning of the year that she was selected as an ambassador for Irish Ladies Golf Union Golf4Girls4Life. Through that she gets to work with youngsters, giving them tips and helping them out as a role model.

“This renewed a sense of purpose for me with regards to the game,” Hall said. “If I can play well and teach even just one youngster a little something, it’s made everything worthwhile.”