“It’s always been a hope and a mission of the tournament to add a women’s field,” said Patriot chairman.
Heading into its 11th year, the Patriot All-American Invitational is elevating its field in a big way.
In July, tournament organizers announced that after 10 years of having only men’s golfers, one of the premier amateur golf tournaments will have a women’s field for the first time at Wigwam Golf Club in Litchfield Park, Arizona, Dec. 28-31.
The interest to get in the field was sky high.
“We filled the women’s field with the first round of invitations. We were ecstatic. And we filled it within a few weeks,” said Sean Scibienski, chairman for the 2021 Patriot All-American.
“It’s always been a hope and a mission of the tournament to add a women’s field but we had to let the tournament season, make sure we knew what we were doing, work with our partners to fundraise enough to do it,” said Scibienski. “This is the first year we pulled the trigger and we’re super excited. We’re starting with a 42-player women’s field. Our hopes are to grow that. We got a top-notch field this year. We’re super excited to have them.”
The Patriot All-America made the announcement in partnership with the Women’s Golf Coaches Association of America.
“The WGCA is excited to partner with The Patriot,” said Angie Ravaioli-Larkin, WGCA President. “This is so special to our organization especially with our involvement and commitment to The Folds of Honor. What a tremendous opportunity to recognize some of the finest players in women’s college golf while honoring those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
While the inaugural field for the women will be 42 golfers, the men’s field will be 84 players once again. The Wigwam resort has three 18-hole layouts which will allow the men and women to play at the same time. The men will compete on the gold course while the women will tackle the blue.
“It works out pretty nicely. They have three golf courses, but two of them kind of weave in amongst each other,” Scibienski said. “Both golf courses are right next to each other, and several holes kind of intertwine between each other so it really makes for it spectacular for spectator’s access to both the women’s field and the men’s field at the same time. It makes it really easy for them.”
Aside for the field size and the different courses, everything else about the experience will be the same for the male and female competitors, including the unique part of the Patriot All-American.
“Each golfer receives and carries a commemorative Ping golf bag that bears the name and branch of a fallen or wounded hero from their hometown or school,” Scibienski said. That’s been a tradition at the event since it started.
“We like to call it the college bowl game of golf. The players are getting swag items in their rooms every day, they get breakfast, lunch and dinner, a VIP tour of Luke Air Force Base.
“We have a F-35 flyover. The keynote speaker this year is Lt. Dan Rooney, the founder of Folds of Honor. Anything that’s not golf tournament, actual playing related, the women are alongside the men doing the exact same stuff.”
The tournament falls in between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, but that’s never been an issue filling the field.
“Who doesn’t want to play golf in Arizona in December?” Scibienski said. But as it turned out, it was much more than that.
“A lot of the men’s golf coaches and men’s golfers went to their women counterparts and said ‘This thing is amazing.’ The kids who come out here love it. We have several kids who try to play it every year they have eligibility. The boys did a great job telling the girls ‘You gotta make it out and play.'”
The West Valley Mavericks, who run the Patriot, style themselves a bit after the Thunderbirds, who are in charge of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and like the Thunderbirds, the Mavericks are forward thinking and are already looking ahead to 2022 and beyond. That includes making a bigger deal out of the final round ending on December 31.
“It is on our agenda for future plans to basically do our version of the Bird’s Nest [the famous concert venue at TPC Scottsdale], where we roll right from closing ceremonies to a big New Year’s Eve bash at the Wigwam,” he said. “That’s just a future plan that we haven’t pulled the trigger on yet but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it next year or the year after.”
Getting in the Patriot All-America Invitational
The tournament features Ping All-Americans from the previous season in NCAA Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and NJCAA as well as 2021 First Team All-America seniors from the AJGA. The golfers also have to be ranked high enough in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.
Notables in the field
Two of the top 50 golfers in the latest men’s WAGR rankings are in the field: Sam Choi of New Mexico (20) and David Ford of North Carolina (35). Three of the top 50 in the women’s rankings are playing: Oklahoma State’s Caley McGinty (20), Oregon’s Hsin-Yu Lu (41) and San Jose State’s Natasha Andrea Oon (49).
Arizona State is well represented as Mason Anderson, Kiko Coelho, James Leow and Preston Summerhays from the men’s team are in the field, as are Ashley Menne and Calynne Rosholt from the women’s team. Christian Banke and Chase Sienkiewicz from the Arizona Wildcats men’s team as well as Maya Benita and Ya Chun Chang from the UA’s women’s team are in the field. Mason Domecq from Ottawa University Arizona and Siripatsorn Patchana from Grand Canyon University are also playing.
Admission is free for all days of competition. The tournament will also be live-streamed on the West Valley Maverick’s youtube channel. There will be cameras on the first tee, as well as the 16th and 18th holes. The 16th hole is a par 3 and the camera there can also capture tee shots from the 11th and 17th hole. The camera on the 18th hole will also be used for the closing ceremony.
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