Maryland Producer Ashley Greer prepares for the PGA Women’s Championship

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The last time Ashley Greer won a championship at the Congress Country Club, she relied on her short game.

A tough approach shot and a stunning bird strike on the first playoff hole of the 2014 Maryland Women’s Open left Greer atop the leaderboard at Bethesda Stadium – the location she returned to this week for the PGA Women’s Championship.

Drive 60 miles northwest of Capitol, and you’ll happen to be where Greer honed that short game: Yinglings Golf Center, a third-class course on the outskirts of Hagerstown with no hole longer than about 110 yards.

David and Judy Greer bought Yinglings in 1990, when Ashley was five years old. It wasn’t long before she passed the course with her mom, dad or grandfather – and it wasn’t long before her younger sister was old enough to play too.

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David Greer called it a “playground.” A playground is regularly at the disposal of his daughters – during the days when David, a PGA professional, gives lessons and in the evenings after the closing of the course.

“Next thing you know, they weren’t bad at it,” David said.

This is an underestimation of knowledge by a father who would later watch his three daughters grow up to be something of a dynasty at Smithsburg High School. With no girls’ golf team in the school, Ashley and her two younger sisters played on the boys’ team, earning the nickname “badger girls of golf.”

Greer won the Maryland State Championship in 2000 and went on to play for the University of Central Florida. Then, while her sisters forged their golf careers in college, older sister Greer turned professional in 2006, appearing at the 2007 US Women’s Open. She spent five years as a professional assistant at Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, miles away. Few of Congress. After five years at Overbrook Golf Club in Villanova, Pennsylvania, Greer returned to his home in Yinglings.

She continued to teach—and play, and compete in the 2018, 2019 and 2021 Women’s PGA Championships. She was named the 2020 Women’s National PGA Championship and worked her way into the event with an eighth place finish last summer at the LPGA Professionals National Championships at Kingsmill in Williamsburg, Va .

But while Greer, 38, has competed in four major tournaments, returning to Congress has a slightly different feel.

“It definitely makes you feel more special,” Greer said. “It feels like my hometown. I am back in my area.”

Her career has led her to some of the best courses in the country, but the short game wisdom gleaned from the Yinglings has become an integral part of her game. Her father said that Ashley equates heroic positions with those she would face at Hagerstown.

Jarir’s short game is her strength, but the congressional distance doesn’t bother her.

“The older you get, the more you know about smart play,” she said. “You don’t always have to attack the pins.”

Managing her workload has become increasingly important to Grier after a car crash at the Super Bowl on Sunday four years ago left her with chronic back pain. She played at the 9th lead on Tuesday and will practice for the 9th quarterback on Wednesday before 7am on Thursday’s tee time.

In Congress to follow her tour, her parents and other family members, as well as friends from local courses, including Columbia, will be. David laughed as he photographed a crowd of people — about 75, by his estimation — likely to see his daughter on Thursday’s first tee point.

Playing after Grier will be the best in the world: Nelly Korda, Jin Young Ko, Minjee Lee, Lydia Ko, and Lexi Thompson, among others. For Greer, this week requires a balance of confidence and measured expectations. Her goal is to achieve storytelling, which she has not yet achieved in a major tournament.

“They are the best players in the world,” said Greer. “So they do it all day, every day for a living, and I’m trying to cram about a month outside and get ready to go. But just sticking with my game and enjoying the experience, that’s my ultimate goal.”

The players participating in the PGA Women’s Championships received an unexpected email Tuesday afternoon from LPGA Tour commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan informing them that this week’s total purse will increase to $9 million, doubling the total payout from last year’s event.

It’s the second highest total purse in LPGA Tour history after the US Women’s Open earlier this month at Pine Needles in Southern Pines, NC

“I didn’t get a chance to go through all my emails,” Marco Semaan said. “But I looked at a few of them, and they were in hysterics. They were some, ‘Holy…’, you know, and ‘Oh my God.’”

By far the most-followed group on Tuesday’s pro included two familiar faces on the capital’s sports scene. Former Washington Nationals star Ryan Zimmerman who retired 11th last weekend and Washington Capitals defending man John Carlson played with Megan Khan.

Zimmerman’s brother, Sean, wrapped up the quartet.

“This is fun,” said Ryan Zimmerman, who plays for Handicap 4. “I was telling Johnny I couldn’t do these things in the summer. It opened up a whole new world for me.”

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