Winter 2019

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Dueling Champions Joy Eldredge and Wendy Lynch have turned the women's club championship at Napa Valley Country Club into their personal fiefdom. Collectively, they account for the last nine club champi- onship titles – with Eldredge claiming the most recent three. For Eldredge, her competitive nature was formed in college where she played basketball at Bucknell University in Pennsylva- nia. The 48-year-old deputy direc- tor of utilities for the City of Napa is wooed back to the hardwood once a year, where the sharp shooter is the default captain in an annual City vs. County charity basketball game. However, injuries to her knees and back prevent her from playing the sport she first loved on a regular basis, but that same drive to compete and excel has propelled her to championship-caliber golf at the club level. After graduating from college, Eldredge spent three years in the Peace Corps in a remote part of Kenya inhabited by the Maasai tribe before pursuing a professional career as a civil engineer upon returning to the states. In 2009, she joined Napa Valley and began focusing on golf. Lynch, 68, took up the game at a young age with her brother, a retired golf professional who held positions at Quail Lodge and Pebble Beach Golf Links. Lynch won her first club championship NCGA.ORG | WINTER 2019 49 in 1990, and went on to claim six more titles, most recently in 2015. Eldredge has gotten the better of Lynch of late, but not without a fight. "I call golf the great equalizer," Eldredge says. "This is probably the one sport where you can't just pick up a club and say, 'Yeah, I've got it now.' That's what makes golf so appealing: it's as level a playing field as you'll find when it comes to sport." While Eldredge possesses a slight distance advantage off the tee, Lynch counters with a deft touch around Napa Valley's challenging greens. "Our course's original nine was built in 1915, and it has very small greens," Lynch says. "They are raised up with undulating areas all around, where you can draw a tight lie or be sitting in the rough." Eldredge agrees, saying that Napa Valley's demanding green complexes will test your short game and expose any shortcomings. Eldredge needed to display a full array of shots to post three consecutive rounds in the 70s (79-78-77—234). "My goal was to break 80 each of the three days," Eldredge says. "Whether I won or not, I'm happy I was able to do that and have my scores improve each day." Despite duking it out for club championship supremacy, Eldredge and Lynch sound more like a mutual admiration society rather than rivals for the most treasured prize at Napa Valley. In fact, these fierce competitors enjoy being partners in team competitions representing Napa Valley against other private clubs in the area. "I'm a few years older, but I hope to continue giving Joy a run for her money," Lynch says. "I enjoy competing alongside her. She's such a fun and pleasant person to play a round of golf with, and she's a great ambassador and champion for our club." Far left: Jon Peterson's championship run at Lohontan GC included a final-round 67. Left: Joy Eldredge (pictured below with her husband, Jim) claimed her third championship at Napa Valley CC, defeating friend and seven-time past champion Wendy Lynch (bottom left) .

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