Shelby Warner could put her golf clubs away for two days but she’s not going to.
As the medalist in the championship flight of the Lima Area Women’s Match Play Tournament, Warner earned a trip to Sunday’s championship match after shooting a 74 on Thursday at Springbrook Golf Club.
Add that 74 to a 73 on the first day of qualifying and factor in that there are only three players in the championship flight this year and Warner is already in the finals.
She will play the winner of a semifinal match between Sandy Doan and Raven Venegas, which is scheduled for Saturday.
Venegas was the No. 2 qualifier, adding a 75 on Wednesday to her first-round 77. Doan shot 78 after recording a 76 in the first round.
“I’m going to go ahead and play some practice rounds. With school approaching, I kind of want to stay in the groove,” said Warner, who attends the University of Findlay. “We’re out there every day so you want to keep in shape.”
“I hit it pretty well today,” she said. “It was just the short game. It was strong yesterday and weak today. That’s just golf.”
The tournament moves into match play today at the Delphos Country Club. But with only 20 players overall in the field, there are just five matches scheduled — two in the first flight, one in the second flight and two in the senior flight. The number of players who have byes today (10) is the same as the number playing.
The small number of players is a concern for the people playing in the tournament.
A year ago, 27 people signed up for the tournament. A decade ago, around 45 people played and some of the long-time competitors remember nearly 80 players teeing off in the 1970s and 1980s.
This year a senior flight was added to try to increase entries from an age group that plays a lot of golf. But that flight has only six players.
A year ago, there were eight golfers in the championship flight and six were college players. This year just two college players entered the tournament.
Former city champion Becky Komminsk says changes that have been discussed start with moving the date of the tournament.
“The time frame is not conducive to college students or even returning (high school) students,” she said. “We filled that championship flight with college players last year and this year we only have two. We did not do a good job of getting them back.”
Another former city champion, Carol Mitchell, said, “We discussed it yesterday. We’re thinking of moving it up a week, maybe two weeks. It depends on what courses might be available.”
Sharon Reaman, who has played in the tournament for many years but is not in the field this year because of an injury, said opening up a flight for golfers under 18 is something that also has been discussed.
Komminsk called the possibility entries could dwindle to the point that the tournament was no longer viable “really scary.”
“I really made an appeal at our club (Shawnee Country Club) that we really have to start supporting this if we’re going to have a tournament anymore. I really think we have to try to keep it going.
“It may be that when other people see the senior flight is established and we were all out here and enjoying it, maybe they’ll get on board. I hope so. I’m too much of an enthusiast to see it all fall apart. There are not many opportunities locally for women to compete other than playing for a club championship at your own club,” she said.
There are numerous examples of golf participation declining in the area, across the state and nationwide in recent years.
The Lima men’s city tournament has lost nearly one-third of its participants in the last five years. Komminsk has seen a decline in the number of players in Toledo district events in which she plays. And Mansfield, a city similar to Lima, had only 24 players in its women’s city golf championship this summer.
“I hope it’s not a sign of the times,” Komminsk said. “There are young people playing. At our club we’re seeing a resurgence of young moms playing but they can’t devote the time to this right now.
“But maybe in two or three years they’ll be able to do it. I think we’ve just got to hang on for a few years and do what we can to get them back here,” she said.