As most winter visitors travel north to escape the Arizona summer heat, Briarwood Country Club top women’s golfer Leigh Klasse did one better.
She set her sights on the northern frontier of Anchorage, Alaska. Klasse, along with family members Renee and Zach Radecki, traveled July 28 to Anchorage where Klasse competed in the United States Golf Association Senior Women’s Amateur Golf Tournament conducted at Anchorage Golf Club.
The international golf event fielded 132 qualified players from 11 different countries. Klasse was the medalist qualifier out of Minnesota where only three competitor slots were allotted. The USGA senior event tournament consisted of two practice days, followed by two qualifying 18 hole sets. The field was then cut to the lowest 64 scores. Those 64 then competed in match play competition to determine the tournament champion.
Klasse tied for a playoff with two other competitors for the 64th spot, which she won to move on to the final match event. She was then matched with the No. 1 seed medalist and lost her one-and-done match 3-2.
Klasse, who took up the game of golf at 12 years old, has participated in more than 60 USGA championships that include 11 U.S. senior amateurs, mid-ams, opens, public links and team events. Klasse was inducted into the Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame as well as the Minnesota Senior Sports Hall of Fame. Klasse’s name even appears in the museum for the USGA in New Jersey as one of the winning Minnesota state team members for the 100th Anniversary of the USGA, where each state sent their top three players.
As for her participation in the Alaska tournament, Klasse commented that the course was in good condition, but what impressed her the most was the pristine beauty and serenity of the area.
“The golf course is set in the wilderness with no housing or road developments in sight. You truly feel you are out in nature,” she said. “The first thing you see for sale at the Anchorage Costco are cans of bear spray. In fact, the volunteers who work are required to take a can of bear spray with them before going out on the course!”
The USGA arranged a 5-hour day cruise, where Klasse and her family continued to be awed by the beauty of the Alaskan glaciers, mountain vistas, wildlife and the great spans of wilderness.