My CDGA Caddie

91st Illinois State Women's Amateur Championship

Buffalo Grove native Haeri Lee emerged victorious at The Grove Country Club, besting defending champion Sarah Arnold by one stroke.

91st Illinois State Women's Amateur Championship
June 10-12 • The Grove Country Club (Long Grove)

Day Three: Wednesday, June 12

LONG GROVE, Ill. - Haeri Lee (Buffalo Grove) stood alone atop the 91st Illinois State Women’s Amateur Championship leaderboard following both of the first two rounds. She held a three-stroke advantage heading into Wednesday’s 18-hole finale at The Grove Country Club. Lurking in second, however, was 2019 and 2023 champion Sarah Arnold (Geneva).

Standing on the 14th tee, on the heels of four birdies in five holes by Arnold to climb into a tie for the lead, the 24-year-old faced her first real moment of adversity. A steam engine rolling down the tracks in the form of a two-time champion would be more than enough to shake anyone’s nerves. But, Lee was quick to remind herself of a key message.

Don’t give up now.

“Usually I’m not [paying attention to other scores], but I was this time around,” she admitted. “I told myself, whatever happens, I didn't want to regret any moment of it - let’s not give up and push through.”

Lee did just that, as she held on to capture the 91st iteration of the championship, and the first to be administered by the CDGA following a historic 90-year run by the Illinois Women’s Golf Association (IWGA). Her final-round 4-over 76, along with rounds of 72-70, positioned her at +2 overall, one shot clear of Arnold and five shots clear of final group-mate Carter Sichol (Winnetka). The victory also secured an exemption into this year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur. The former Drake University golfer pointed to the nerves as an asset coming down the stretch.

“It was a tough battle out there and I think all of the nervousness and jitters went away,” said Lee after the round. “[I’m] definitely relieved.”

Related Links: (Full Recap) / (Scoring) / (Photo Gallery)

Day Two: Tuesday, June 11


LONG GROVE, Ill. - Less than one month removed from her trip to Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio, Texas for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship, Haeri Lee (Buffalo Grove) is just 18 holes away from potentially securing her spot in a second USGA championship, as the 2024 Illinois State Women’s Amateur champion will punch a ticket to the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship with their victory. The automatic exemption is new to the event’s 91st playing, and a main reason Lee made sure she delayed her professional golf aspirations.

“It was a big goal of mine early in the season,” Lee said after her round. “That’s kind of why I wanted to play in this event. I want to try one last time to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Am before I turn pro. I’ll be heading to Q-School at the end of August, so I want to try and qualify before playing professionally.”

Related Links: (Scoring) / (Photo Gallery) / (Video Recap) / (Round 3 Tee Times)

An amateur swan song on the biggest stage might be well on its way, as Lee posted a second-round 70 at The Grove Country Club on Tuesday and holds a three-shot lead over defending champion Sarah Arnold (Geneva). The two, along with Carter Sichol (Winnetka), form the final group in Wednesday’s closing round.

Lee’s day began with a bogey at the par-5 first - a blunder she worked to soon forget.

“After the bogey, I was actually a bit concerned about my game,” Lee admitted. “I told myself we can start with bogeys and make it up later on, so I just trusted my shots, my putting and I think that’s what helped me to pull through.”

A trio of birdies on the ensuing five holes surely allowed for the eventual 36-hole leader to pull through at day’s end. Lee carded a front-nine 34 on Tuesday, after an opening-round 72 Monday, to get to red figures at 2-under on the day and for the championship.

A calming force by her side in her caddie and boyfriend, Tim, the duo was regularly seen lifting each other’s spirits and working together to get the right reads on the greens throughout the round. Lee utilized that positivity to play to the tune of nine pars on The Grove’s inward nine to bring her into the clubhouse with the lead at -2.

“I think he knows my game the best right now,” Lee said. “So, just knowing that he’s by my side helps me to calm down and, yeah, we definitely discussed a lot out there. I think we’re on the same page all the time, so he’s definitely helpful.”

Not far behind, Arnold fired a tournament-best 4-under 68 on Tuesday to get to +1 overall. The two-time event champion posted birdies on Nos. 5, 6 and 8 to make the turn at 33, 10 shots better than her front-nine quest on Monday.

“I started on the back nine yesterday and I was 2-under through nine,” Arnold said after her round. “I really couldn’t tell you what happened. I made the turn and all of a sudden I started missing greens left and right and I think I got stuck in my head. I shot 7-over and that’s unheard of, I like never do that, so I couldn’t tell you what happened there, but today I just stayed patient and just tried to stay focused the whole time.”

A strong response on the opening nine on Tuesday pushed Arnold back into the mix, as the graduate student at Western Kentucky University poured in two more birdies on the back to diffuse a bogey at the par-3 11th. A 35 on that second nine completed Arnold’s second-round 68. She heads into the final day of her title defense three shots shy of Lee.

Sichol, a rising junior at Carleton College, paired her opening-round 75 with a 1-over 73 to position herself in third place. She played a relatively clean round Tuesday, carding two birdies and three bogeys, to stay in the hunt.

Kayla Sayyalinh (Rockford), who began the day just one shot behind Lee, and Reese Wallace (South Barrington) round out the top five. The two are seven shots back at +5.

The 91st Illinois State Women’s Am, along with the aforementioned automatic bid into the 2024 U.S. Women’s Am, will be awarded following Wednesday’s final 18 holes. The field was cut after Tuesday’s round, as the 20 competitors who played to +16 or better throughout the first 36 holes will play one last loop. Players are set to begin play at 8 a.m. with Lee, Arnold and Sichol rounding out the tee sheet at 9 a.m.

Day One: Monday, June 10


LONG GROVE, Ill. - The final 52-player field that competed Monday at The Grove Country Club for the first day of the 91st Illinois State Women’s Amateur Championship was met with quite the test. Cool, breezy conditions set the stage for what culminated in a scoring average of just over 82, as the women carded twice as many double bogeys or worse as they did birdies.

One contestant stood above the rest, as Haeri Lee’s (Buffalo Grove) level-par day was the lone round at 72 or better, pushing her one shot ahead of Kayla Sayyalinh (Rockford) at day’s end. Lee was one of six players to avoid any score worse than bogey throughout her round.

Related Links: (Scoring) / (Photo Gallery) / (Video Recap) / (Round 2 Tee Times)

“My shots were on point today,” Lee said following her round. “Tee shots were probably the best … and my wedge shots were a big help.”

Starting on the back, Lee began the day by carding her first of four birdies on The Grove’s par-4 10th hole. A bogey at No. 11 quickly brought the former Drake University golfer back to even par, a trend she would soon become familiar with.

The Illinois State Women’s Am veteran utilized The Grove’s four par-5s as a major strength, beginning with birdies at Nos. 13 and 15. Lee followed the birdies up with a pair of bogeys at the par-3 17th and par-4 18th to make the turn at even par. A third-consecutive bogey at the first pushed Lee over par for the first time on the day. Again, she responded quickly with a birdie at the par-5 second before carding seven pars down the stretch.

“This is my third year playing [in the State Women’s Am] at The Grove so just knowing the course helped a lot,” Lee said. “Especially the greens, it is pretty tough and I think it’s playing tougher than last year, so it was good experience.”

Sayyalinh sits just one shot behind Lee following a 1-over 73 from the rising sophomore at Southern Illinois University on Monday.

Playing the course in its traditional fashion, Sayyalinh began her day par-birdie-par to get out to one-under par early on. Her lone bogey on the front nine came at No. 4 ahead of six-consecutive pars to turn with an outward-nine 36.

Sayyalinh carried the momentum to her second nine, posting another birdie at the par-5 13th to get back to red figures. A double bogey at the 15th, before a birdie-bogey finish, brought her day to an end in second place overall.

“I think I was playing pretty consistently,” Sayyalinh said. “I did have a few bad shots and a few bad putts out there, but I didn’t let it bother me and I tried not to think about it. I left it in the past and I think I just kept a steady mindset the whole time.”

A quartet of competitors finished the day two shots behind Sayyalinh in a tie for third place, as Katherine Lemke (Geneva), Kacie Moon (Northbrook), Carter Sichol (Winnetka) and Reese Wallace (South Barrington) each shot 75.

Defending champion and Western Kentucky University golfer Sarah Arnold (Geneva) fired an opening-round 77, including a 34 on her opening nine, and finds herself in a four-way tie for seventh heading into Tuesday’s second round.

Formerly a match-play event, this year’s Illinois State Women’s Am is being contested as a 54-hole stroke play championship over three days. Tuesday will feature 18 holes starting at 8 a.m. for the entire field once again before the low 20 and ties compete for the title and a spot in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship on Wednesday.


The Illinois Women’s Golf Association (IWGA) was established in 1933 for the sole purpose of conducting the Illinois State Women’s Amateur Championship (first contested in 1934). Following a successful 90-year run, the IWGA announced the transition of the administration of both the Illinois State Women’s Amateur and Illinois State Senior Women’s Amateur Championships to the CDGA in the fall of 2023. The CDGA is honored to continue the storied history of these women’s championships, as the Association looks to carry on the IWGA’s legacy of expanding playing opportunities for women and girls across the Chicago District.


Monday, June 10
The entire field will play 18 holes of stroke play.

Tuesday, June 11
The entire field will play 18 holes of stroke play, with a cut to the low 20 and ties occurring after Round 2 is complete.

Wednesday, June 12
The low 20 and ties will play 18 holes of stroke play.

CLICK HERE or the image for a full preview and notes package.

Related Links: (Full Preview) / (Round 1 Tee Times) / (Round 2 Tee Times) / (Field) / (2023 Recap) / (Event History)

Championship Information

The Illinois State Women's Amateur Championship, traditionally conducted annually by the Illinois Women's Golf Association, was first played in 1934 at Evanston Golf Club. Conducted as match play through 2023, the event is now a 54-hole stroke play competition contested over three days. St. Charles native and Western Kentucky University golfer Sarah Arnold captured her second State Women's Am crown in 2023 at The Grove.

New in 2024, the Illinois State Women's Amateur champion will automatically qualify for this year's U.S. Women's Amateur Championship.

91st Illinois State Women's Amateur Championship
Jun 10 - 12, 2024
The Grove Country Club (Long Grove, IL)

Chicago District Golf Association
11855 Archer Avenue
Lemont, IL 60439