Not only is the battle for Nevada scheduled to take place at the sparkling new Allegiant Stadium when UNR plays UNLV, but the two side of the state will setting things on the golf course as the 20-woman WSNGA team will be looking to cash in on a home-course edge in the 2020 Silver Cup on Oct. 27-29 at the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort’s Sun Mountain course. The North holds a 15-11 edge in the prestigious event, which started in 1993. —by Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider.
The North breezed to a 26-14 victory in 2019 when the tournament was held on the North’s home turf at Genoa Lakes in Reno. It was the North’s fourth victory in the last five years with the lone South win coming in 2018.
The three-day event features alternate shot, best-ball and singles formats.
South co-captain Robbin Sanchez is hoping the South’s fortunes change in 2020. In fact, she and Laura Smith, co-captain and also one of the South’s players, have a few tricks up their sleeves.
But, shhh…don’t tell anyone.
“We’ve tried to incorporate some of the thoughts from Paul Azinger when he did the pod system (in the 2008 Ryder Cup),” she said. “We got the team’s feedback on who each player would be comfortable playing with…who they feel would make a good partner.”
But this is 2020, the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the plan needed adjustments.
“We told the players to take it among themselves to practice,” Sanchez said. “And the team has responded well in getting things done. There wasn’t time or the convenience of the courses always being available to all get together. But we got a lot of feedback and Laura and I are pretty confident with where we’re at.”
Sanchez added the team has a main rule they are also going to follow.
“It’s one we came up with,” she said. “Never say you’re sorry. That brings in negativity and everyone knows that if their partner misses a shot it’s not because they aren’t trying their hardest.”
Smith, who will also be teeing it up, said the combination of captain/player is definitely a challenge…but one she’s more than happy to take on.
“I’ve got a great co-captain in Robbin so that makes things a lot easier,” she said. “Earlier I was clearly more focused on getting it all together team-wise than playing but this weekend I’ll work more on playing.”
Plus, she added with a laugh, “If Tiger can do it, I can do it.”
She said the first day, of the tournament, like in the past, will be crucial.
“We’ve really focused on the first day’s alternate shot,” she said. “If you look at the history, if you don’t win that day, typically you don’t win.”
To that end, the practicing has been very focused on that format.
“We pushed them to practice the alternate shot,” Smith said. “We want to come out that first day, have a good day and have a good chance of winning. It’s that big of a deal.”
One more thing that’s a big deal is the event being held at the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort.
“More than half of our team (11 of the 20 players) are Paiute members,” Smith said. “We want that Paiute wind to kick up. There’s a cold front that’s coming in and that means wind. Between the weather and the home course advantage we’re hoping that gives us a good edge.”
Like most other squads, this one has a mixture of veterans who have represented the team before and rookies making their first venture into the Silver Cup.
Take Rita Byorick for example. She has seen it all.
“I’ve played in maybe 16 or 17 of them,” said Byorick. “I just love match play and love the team aspect. Golf is usually an individual sport and it’s different when you’re part of a team. These types of events are just great with everyone rooting for each other.”
She added the event gives everyone lasting memories.
“One of the biggest things was I was a captain in the mid-2000s with Tammy Gephardt,”she said. “Both of the first two days we went down five or six matches right out of the chute and fought back to tie the matches. That was fantastic.”
On the rookie side is Renee Rocco who works for the SNJGA as the Operations Manager. She said she’s been looking forward to qualifying for an event of this caliber, but there is a little trepidation.
“An event like this there are always a few nerves,” she said. “But they usually go away on the first tee.”
The event format is also intriguing to Rocco.
“I’ve always loved playing competitive golf and this is interesting because it’s a team event,” Rocco said. “It’s been going on for a number of years so it’s nice to be part of that history.”
She added she does have goals.
“I’d love to go 3-0,” she said. “But overall, it’s just being consistent. Being a team event, you have a partner to help you out if you hit a bad shot or a bad putt. I’m just looking to help the team out any way I can.”
Robbin Sanchez, Laura Smith
WSNGA Gross Players
WSNGA Net Players
The Silver Cup originated in 1993 to help heal a fracture between state representatives from the North and South, and was inspired by professional golf’s Ryder and Solheim cups. Many believed the matches would bring golfers from the opposite ends of the state closer together, while others thought the matches would only worsen the divide. More on the Silver Cup here.