OREM — When Sue Nyhus tees it up Thursday at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in Southern Pines, North Carolina, not only will she know about half the golfers in the field, she’ll also be accomplishing a feat no man or woman has ever accomplished in golf.
The 56-year-old, who lives in Orem and serves as the women’s golf coach at Utah Valley University, will be competing in her ninth United States Golf Association event, stretching back to her youth when she competed in the U.S. Girls Junior in Wichita, Kansas, in 1980. Since then, she has played in the U.S. Women’s Amateur, U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Women’s Public Links, U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, U.S. Women’s State Team and U.S. Women’s Four-Ball.
She was the first golfer in USGA history to have played in every championship offered to her by the USGA when she qualified for the Four-Ball tourney in Bandon, Oregon, in 2015. Now she’s adding the Senior Open, which is in just its second year after being added as a women’s event by the USGA.
While many golfers have played in multiple USGA events during their lifetime, Nyhus has achieved her unique accomplishment, not only because of her talent on the golf course, but because of certain circumstances over the past several years.
You see, the USGA discontinued playing a couple of events that Nyhus played in — the Public Links, in which she was the runner-up in 1999, as well as the State Team championship. Because no other woman had played in all eight USGA events, no one has a chance to match Nyhus’ distinction going forward.
“That’s really a cool lifetime achievement,” she said. “I’m the only woman or man that’s ever done it and only one that ever will.”
And now she’s taking it a step further by adding the Senior Open to her list.
When the USGA announced the addition of the Women’s Senior Open last year, Nyhus was all in. “Absolutely, when they announced it, I said, ‘Here we go again. I better keep my mind in the game and get ready for that,’” she said.
However, she missed qualifying by three strokes in the qualifier in Arizona in 2018. This year, the closest qualifier was in Colorado at the Glenmoor Country Club in Englewood, near Denver.
Because of her coaching duties at UVU, the mother of three daughters wasn't able to concentrate on her game much prior to the qualifier. In fact, her season ended on a Saturday toward the end of April and eight days later she was heading to Colorado to compete in the one-day qualifier.
The conditions couldn’t have been much worse. The tournament was played just as a big storm was moving into the Denver area. The temperature hovered between 34 and 39 degrees all day. It was so cold that her golf towel froze after the second hole and she could hear it banging on the cart path between holes.
The terrible weather, however, played to her advantage.
“I always preach to my team that we don’t complain about stuff, you just deal with it,” she said. “That attitude kept me in it. I consider it an opportunity when other people start complaining — that’s when things get good for me. It’s the same for everybody, no reason to complain. It was an interesting day for golf.”
Nyhus shot an 80, the lowest round in the field and she grabbed one of the two spots available to advance. As she drove away with her medal, snow was covering the course, but Nyhus was smiling while everyone else was still complaining.
Now she’s in North Carolina, where she’s been since Sunday, getting acclimated to the lower elevation, length of the grass and all the other variables that will be present when she tees it up Thursday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. local time (she goes out in the first group Friday at 7:30 a.m.)
For Nyhus, a two-time State Amateur champion, known in the local golf community as one of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet, it will be old home week because of all the friends she's made in the game over the years.
There’s a few golfers from clear back in her high school days in Florida, six to eight from her time playing college golf at BYU, another 15 to 20 from her days playing the European Tour and several golfers she’s gotten to know in recent years as she’s played in national USGA events.Comment on this story
The 120-player field includes several LPGA stars of the past including Amy Alcott, Laura Baugh, Juli Inkster, JoAnne Carner, Hollis Stacy, Jan Stephenson, Liselotte Neumann, Helen Alfredsson and defending champion Laura Davies.
“I think it’s awesome,” Nyhus said of getting to play alongside some legends of women’s golf. “I’m going to rekindle some friendships with people I haven’t seen in 30 years. I’m looking forward to seeing those people and having a chance to play a great golf course against elite women that are in my age category.”