Forty years later, McHenry Women’s Invitational still going strong

McHENRY – Monday marked the start of the 40th year of the McHenry Women’s Invitational at McHenry Country Club, which is pretty good for a golf tournament that began as an idea at the end of a road trip.

In 1974, Carol Cooney and Dolores Overton were among a group of women traveling from a tournament a good distance away, when they decided that the McHenry County area needed a tournament of its own.

The next year, 120 women competed in the first MWI tournament, around the same amount that competed in the 40th edition.

“This is just wonderful,” McHenry resident Cooney said. “I just think it’s going to keep getting better. The camaraderie and seeing the girls come back every year is just great.”

Cooney, who still plays in the tournament 40 years later, shot a 99 in the fourth flight division.

The two-day, 36-hole tournament brings together local golfers as well others from the Illinois and Wisconsin area. This year it was split into six different flights for the women to compete in.

Alyssa Gaudio of Western Springs pulled away to take the lead in the Championship flight. Gaudio, a coach at Chicago State University, shot a 2-under-par 70 and was the only player under par in any of the flights. .

Martha O’Boyle sits in second with an 86 and local golfer Delainey Peterson is in a tie for third with a 6-over-par 78. Peterson, who is from Crystal Lake, graduated from Prairie Ridge in 2013 and is playing in her first MWI.

“I was happy with it, I think my dad being my caddy really helped me today,” Peterson said.

“He helped me not take it too seriously and have fun out there, I’m really happy I’m getting more involved in local tournaments, the women around here are awesome.”

The first flight may end up being the most closely contested on Day 2. The top-nine golfers are separated by just three shots, including Lake Villa’s Mimi Denoma and McHenry’s Deanna Carstens who both shot 87 to tie for fifth.

Denoma is one of the tri-chairs that were in charge of putting together the event, along with Char McLear of McHenry and Carstens.

“We ended up with a strong field and we can’t really ask for more, players just love this course and it’s a perfect spectacle for golf,” Denoma said. “My round went OK. I had my ups and downs, and I should be around the middle of the flight.”

Joe Ann Hurst of McHenry, who is looking for her second straight win in the second flight, shot a 84 in the first round to take a two-shot lead over Kathy Braun.

Karri Thiessen of McHenry leads the fourth flight after opening with a 91. Janet Conway, also from McHenry, is second with a 93.

Crystal Lake’s Laurie Bender is in second place in the fourth flight, three shots back of Cindy Schmidt who shot a 91. Nancy Jordan leads the fifth flight after shooting an opening round 100.

Both Thiessen and Hurst, who are friends on and off the course, love playing in the tournament with so many people they know.

“I’m not really huge into the whole competitive (part), I just really enjoy the people, to me it’s just about having fun out there,” Thiessen said.

“It would mean a lot to repeat, but I really just enjoy all the friends coming out and seeing some faces you don’t normally see, it’s a lot of fun,” Hurst added.