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By SHANE STURTZ
IOWA CITY, Iowa — If you look in the University of Iowa women’s golf record books, you’ll see a nice chunk carved out for Stacey Arnold.
If you head to Cedar Rapids Country Club this weekend, you will see Arnold competing at the 58th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur. It is Arnold’s first USGA event since 2013 and she be will teeing off at 8:10 a.m. (CT) on Saturday for the first of two qualifying rounds.
The six-day event, from August 24-29, features the best 132 senior players from around the world.
“I am super excited to be playing in the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur in Iowa,” Arnold said. “I turned 50 this past February and felt this would be a good time to get back into the national golf scene.”
National tournaments have escaped Arnold due to work commitments, but she still enjoys the game of golf on a smaller scale, playing in the Ladies Tournament Golf Association, a competitive handicap tournament series in the Denver Metro Area.
Keeping her golf game fresh has never been a problem, which is not a shock to her former head coach and now longtime friend, Diane Thomason.
“Stacey’s good because she keeps the ball in play,” Thomason said. “She doesn’t have to go and fit it. Plus, she’s a good putter and has good short game skills.”
On top of her skill on the course, Arnold’s calmness and charisma is what set her apart and developed her into a three-time All-Big Ten student-athlete from 1989-91, according to Thomason.
“She was very stoic,” Thomason said. “You couldn’t tell from her face (how she was playing). “In golf, you need that even keel. You can’t get too excited and can’t get too bummed out.”
The skills and mental game are in Arnold’s favor, but a chance to play in the U.S Senior Women’s Am has its own challenges – two to be exact.
Despite being a Hawkeye, Arnold is unfamiliar with the Cedar Rapids Country Club. Luckily, Thomason phoned Arnold, giving her tips along the way.
“We went through the course,” Thomason said. “I tried to pick a few holes that are unusual out there. We didn’t go hole-by-hole. I said, ‘here’s the hole and how it lays out’. She’ll have a practice round to see it.”
But when Arnold steps onto the first tee box, she will do so with a torn ACL – her second challenge and second ACL tear in her life. During Arnold’s senior season, she played through a torn ACL, eventually claiming Big Ten Player of the Year.
It’s a testament to Arnold’s drive and character to once again be playing on one of the biggest stages with a hampering injury.
A Black and Gold reunion in Cedar Rapids could offset any nerves and would mean so much to Arnold.
“My time at Iowa has greatly impacted my life,” Arnold said. “I am very appreciative to have been a student-athlete there. The athletic department is so impressive and was a big reason I chose to go there and play college golf. I am always so proud to be a Hawkeye and let everyone know it.”
“It’s going to be fun,” said Thomason who will be in attendance watching Arnold on Saturday and Sunday like old times. “Her mom and dad are going to be there. She has other family coming. I’m trying to drag up people from here, so hopefully she’ll have a little group to cheer her.”