LEAWOOD, KS — The 2021 Prairie Invitational will be contested at Hallbrook Country Club on July 26th and will last through the 28th. The event will have two divisions, the Opal Hill Division and the Open Division The divisions are determined according to handicap index, with the golfers having an index between 5.1 and 15 playing in the Opal Hill division and the golfers having a 5.0 and below competing in the Open Division.
The Open Division for this year is lined with talent but is led by Rachel Stous. Stous recently won the Kansas Women’s Amateur in commanding fashion by shooting nine-under-par for three rounds. She also won the 2021 Kansas City Women’s Match Play, and she is the reigning champion of the Prairie Invitational.
Danica Badura will also be featured in the Open Division. Danica, the Nebraska native, placed third at the Kansas Women’s Amateur, plays college golf at the University of South Dakota, and she also won the 2020 Nebraska Women’s golfer of the year award.
Alongside Danica in the Open Division is Emma Whitaker. Emma is a past champion of the Prairie Invitational, and recently played very well at the Kansas Women’s Amateur, as well as playing collegiate golf at Oklahoma State University.
Another golfer in the Open Division is Ximena Gonzalez Garcia. Ximena has a decorated collegiate golf career at the University of Arkansas heading into her senior season.
Katy Winters is also a name to watch out for as we have seen her ability to events like she displayed in 2019 at the Kansas Women’s Mid-Amateur. This year Katy tied for sixth place in a very strong field of competitors at the Kansas Women’s Amateur, shooting a total 221.
Scarlet Weidig also poses a threat to the title as she displayed her talents in the KC Women’s Match Play event earlier this year.
Making a return to the Prairie Invitational is 2020 Low Senior Champion, Martha Linscott. Martha had a great year of golf last year, including claiming the Kansas Women’s Senior Championship title shooting a gross 154 through two rounds.
Another high-level collegiate golfer in this division is Aristelle Acuff who plays at the University of Kansas. Aristelle competed in five events last season including the Gator Invitational where she was the second highest Kansas finisher.
Kenni Henson, a golfer at Wichita State University, was a runner-up at the KC Women’s Match Play this year. She is looking to bounce back at the Prairie from her performance in the Kansas Women’s Amateur earlier this month.
Former Wichita State golfer, Laine Evans, who recently won the Women’s Mid-Amateur (75-71-146) in June and is looking to continue her hot streak into this event this year.
Lastly, making the lengthy trip from Texas is Stacy Dennis. Stacy is the executive director of the Texas Golf Association and looks to leave her mark on the Prairie Invitational this year after Stacy shot a 77-71-82 at the 2020 Prairie Invitational, placing her ninth overall.
Five local PGA Professionals will also compete in this year’s event. Cassie Auxier is a professional at Hallbrook Country Club, making her a home-course favorite. Former KU golfer and the PGA Head Professional at Sykes/Lady Overland Park Golf Course, Jennifer Walker will be showing out this year as well. Jacqueline Madison and Jane Yi are returning for another year of competition. Local PGA instructor from the Overland Park Golf Division, Maureen Farrell is also competing.
The Opal Hill Division
Formerly known as the Players Division, the Opal Hill Division will honor the legendary golfer for the first time this year. Opal Hill was turned to golf by a doctor prescribing her to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine. She quickly fell in love with the game and began practicing several hours a day. Her passion for golf grew every day and eventually enrolled in tournaments, leading her to win several of them. She then turned professional but after her husband passed, she was forced to quit the game. Although Opal did not play anymore, the game never left her. She was asked to lead the founders of the LPGA, and to help create the teaching division of the LPGA.
The Opal Hill division is also filled with some great competition. Topping the list is Barbara Cusick. Barbara and her Husband Dr. Douglas Cusick are the tournament title sponsors as well as Barbara being a member of the Prairie Invitational committee, and Hallbrook Country Club. Alongside Barbara on the Prairie Committee and fellow Hallbrook member is Mary Larson.
Jayne Clarke will also be making an appearance in the field at the event. Jayne is on the Board of Directors of Central Links Golf.
Lastly, Sharon Henes, the winner of the 2021 Spring Triple Threat, will also be competing in the Opal Hill Division.