Greenlief leads Donna Invite during a summer devoted to golf
Lauren Greenlief (VSGA photo)
Lauren Greenlief (VSGA photo)

From Lauren Greenlief’s perspective, Donna Andrews has set the standard in Virginia golf. Many women likely feel that way about a player who put together a successful LPGA career from 1989-2005 before becoming a renowned instructor at Pinehurst, but Greenlief has a unique connection.

Greenlief, 28, holds a two-shot lead after two rounds of the inaugural Donna Andrews Invitational. Rounds of 69-74 at Boonsboro Golf Club in Lynchburg, Va., put her two ahead of Kent State's Marissa Kirkwood and three ahead of rising high-school senior Nicole Adam, who is a student of Andrews.

Greenlief is only three days removed from winning the Virginia Women’s Stroke Play Championship. She last won that title in 2011, while playing for the University of Virginia. This year’s win moved her VSGA title count to nine, which is one less than Andrews, a VSGA Hall of Famer, owns.

“I had never met Donna but I definitely knew about all of her golf accomplishments,” Greenlief said, explaining that she’s been chasing her VSGA wins record throughout her career.

Numbers are a big theme for Greenlief this summer. She took a leave from her job at Boston Consulting Group to pursue golf. It was a decision made partly to see how high she could climb in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, which is difficult for a working mid-amateur to do. Position in the WAGR has become much more important for female amateurs now that the top 30 Americans in the ranking earn an invitation to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in April.

“I think everyone was kind of tracking where was the cut-off for the tournament last year,” she said. The tournament committee set aside a handful of exemptions for winners of specific tournaments, and also made a series of committee invites, but a mid-amateur was not included in either group.

When Greenlief, the 2015 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, made a run to the quarterfinals at last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur, she was ranked No. 1,288. Already this year she has dropped to No. 202 in the WAGR after playing the Women’s Southern Amateur (T-4) and the Women’s Eastern Amateur (quarterfinals) this summer. Add in her Virginia Stroke Play win and her Donna performance, and Greenlief hopes that puts her inside the top 200.

“It’s been really nice to go to tournaments and when I get off the golf course, I can work on my game instead of going right back to my laptop and being behind on 200 emails,” she said. “Just focus on golf and not have everything else going on. It’s been a nice change for a mental mindset for me.”

Greenlief has a two-and-a-half week break lined up post-Donna, then has the North & South Women’s Amateur, the Canadian Women’s Amateur and the Ladies’ National Golf Association Championship (formerly the Trans-National) on her calendar leading up to the U.S. Women’s Amateur.

This week, Greenlief is the marquee player in the Donna field, as one of Virginia’s top female amateurs. Boonsboro – a “classic, old-school style golf course that has rolling hills and slopey, small greens” – reminds Greenlief of Farmington Golf Club, a course she played while at the University of Virginia. She won last year’s Virginia Women’s Amateur there.

Tournament officials brought Greenlief to Boonsboro early in the process of getting this event off the ground and picked her brain about how to do it right. Greenlief has every reason to be invested.

“It’s huge to have another invitational in my home state of Virginia for folks to come play.”

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ABOUT THE The Donna Invitational

Started in 2019, this is a 54-hole stroke play event honoring Donna Andrews, the major champion and Virginia Sports Hall of Famer who grew up at the host Boonsboro Country Club.

Open to any female player with a Handicap Index of 14.4 or less, the field will be limited to 72 competitors, selected at the discretion of The Donna Andrews Invitational.

Open, Junior (non-college players ages 18 or lower), Mid-Am (ages 25+), and Senior (ages 50+) divisions.

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