Monday saw 77 competitors tee off at Spring Lake Country Club, comprising what SLCC head professional Josh Lathwell described as "the best playing field in 10 years" due to a number of competitive NCAA golfers in the mix.
Through 18 holes, the young ladies set the pace.
Former Spring Lake golf standout, and now University of Indianapolis star, Anna Kramer finished with the low score through qualifying at 73 strokes, followed by East Kentwood graduate and Texas Tech golfer Sarah White, carding a 77.
Susie Keane turned in the final sub-80 score at 79 to round out the top three. Also cracking the championship flight for this week's match-play tournament were Kathy Eisenga (81), Megan Skoog (81), Barb Schmid (81), Donna Tepper (81) and Maureen Whitehead (82).
Just missing the title flight were Madelyn Nelson, Joan Garety and Kayla Krueger, each turning in scores of 82 strokes.
Other notable finishers were 2017 champion Shelly Weiss carding an 86; 2017 runner-up Chris Ziegler at 88; Constance Malberg at 86 out of Group B; and Carolyn Byl at 85 out of Group C.
Lathwell said in an interview with the Tribune last week that they like to push the green speed for this tournament. According to competitors, they followed through.
"Playing on your home course puts you at ease a little bit, but the greens were so fast," Kramer said. "It was nice having a good feel for the greens and knowing where to put it. Even with that, they still can get you. I was burning a lot of edges today and putting good strokes on them, and they were just missing.
"The pin placements weren't hard, but they weren't easy, either. If you missed in the wrong spot, you could have a pretty tough putt for sure."
White and Weiss echoed the sentiment.
"This course isn't super hard, but with the conditions, they were pretty tough with the wind picking up and the greens were rolling fast," White said.
"They were quick," Weiss added. "If you were close to the hole, there wasn't a lot of undulation and the pin placements weren't in too spooky of spots, but they rolled nicely."
Kramer and White didn't mind the fast greens, using dialed-in approach shots to all but eliminate chipping and putting.
"I've been working on my wedges a lot, so those were a lot closer than they have been in the past year or so," Kramer said. "Just keeping it in the fairway and hitting greens is important here, and I've been hitting it pretty well. Get it close and finish birdie, or two put for par and you are good."
"I played decent today, I would say," White added. "I hit the ball well, some chips and putts didn't go my way, but hey, that's golf. I only missed three greens today, so ball striking is working well. (I) just have to work some more chipping and putting, and I'll be good."
As for the veteran field of play, the youngsters didn't mind the extra challenge.
"It is a lot of fun. I wouldn't say the young and old makes a huge difference," White said. "Anybody can play well on any given day. That is the beauty of golf. It is a lot of fun to meet new people and see what experienced golfers play like.
"They may not be Division 1 golfers like me and a lot of the younger golfers here, but they have been playing the game longer than I have been alive. It is fun to see that experience in action."
The opposite may hold true for the older golfers as defending champ Weiss dropped out of the championship flight at the hands of the younger delegation.
"All things considered, I played OK," she said. "I had my hip replaced in December, so I'm just kind of getting back. I lost a lot of my power. I just didn't get anything done today. I didn't make any putts. I was even through five and then tripled six and unraveled from there.
"I had a great year last year. Things really fell into place for me. There are some really great players and some youngsters that really can play the game that weren't here last year. I'm pleased. I don't have any concerns. I'll go out and play. It is a great tournament, they do a really nice job, and I'm glad to be back."
With the tournament flights set, match play begins today, to the excitement of the collegiate golfers, who are used to strict stroke-play at major tournaments.
"I love match play," Kramer said. "Your mindset can be different. You can go at different things and don't have to stress too much over the score. If you have a bad hole, you can just chalk it up and move on."
"I love match play," White echoed. "It is one of my favorite ways to play. You can be playing well and still be losing. It is a good, but different challenge. All that matters is getting in the hole sooner."
Flights for the remainder of the tournament fall as follows:
1. Anna Kramer vs. 8. Maureen Whitehead
4. Kathy Eisenga vs. 5. Megan Skoog
2. Sarah White vs. 7. Donna Tepper
3. Susie Keane vs. 6. Barb Schmid
1. Joan Garety vs. 8. Shelly Weiss
4. Nancy Snyder vs. 5. Natalie Samdal
2. Madelyn Nelson vs. 7. Sue Campbell
3. Kayla Krueger vs. 6. Jaymie Hiemonen
1. Tyler Pam vs. 8. Diane Kurtz
4. Deb Rodgers vs. 5. Hannah Klein
2. Chris Zeigler vs. 7. Caiya Dewitt
3. Michelle Yasenak vs. 6. Cindy Obermeyer
1. Suzanne France vs. 8. Terry Deisler
4. Jan Bowerman vs. 5. Elias Carol
2. Constance Malburg vs. 7. Margeret Nault
3. Karen Vanderweide vs. 6. Helga Toreillo
1. Daryl Larsen vs. 8. Corrine Johnson
4. Kim Noe vs. Kristi Cullen
2. Judy Lazzaro vs. 7. Linda Pollock
3. Olivia Bayagich vs. 6. Diane Kino
1. Kim Smith- BYE
4. Bobbi Ferreira vs. 5. Suzanne Reinhold
2. Doree Hall vs. 7. Theresa Lahring
3. Heide Lemmen vs. 6. Jeanette Kamps
1. Carolyn Byle vs. 8. Kathleen Houser
4. Liana Holton vs. 5. Gail Miller
2. Pento Lenny vs. 7. Karen Condino
3. Suzanne Madej vs. 6. Pat Nowling
1. Sue Bowman vs. 8. Patricia Demaire
4. Cathy Macfarlane vs. 5. Linda Root
2. Nancy Hopkins vs. 7. Karen Sherwood
3. Joe Defranco vs. 6. Judy Johnson
1. Jayne Schnoor vs. 8. Judy Dehaven
4. Ann Bubsy vs. 5. Linda Dane
2. Kate Clark vs. 7. Janet Genow
3. Joan Cleland vs. 6. Ruth Mason