At the U.S. Women’s Open, golf’s gossip hides in 1 (crowded) place

lexi thompson smiles at the us women's open

Ahead of the 2024 U.S. Women's Open, the range at Lancaster Country Club was abuzz about Lexi Thompson.

Dustin Satloff, USGA

LANCASTER, Pa. — It’s the Tuesday of U.S. Women’s Open week, and the driving range at Lancaster Country Club is packed. The flat hitting area is over 100 yards from side-to-side, but on this day, every bit of available space is in use.

As the cool early morning gives way to a warm and humid afternoon, that theme remains. A band of storms rolled through eastern Pennsylvania Monday afternoon, so this is the first full day of prep for all 156 players in the field. And as every one of them knows, the march toward the most coveted title in women’s golf starts on the practice tee.

The driving range isn’t just a refuge for players; it’s also a meeting place for all sorts of golf-y personnel — agents, managers, equipment reps, volunteers, swing coaches, caddies, media members. Fitting them all on the 20,000 square feet of turf in the shadows of Lancaster’s clubhouse doesn’t seem possible, but on this day, there are no issues.

The talk of the range — and the entire property — is about the course. Specifically the test the William Flynn design will present to the 156 ladies in the field. Nelly Korda, the top-ranked player in the world, calls it a “beast.” Two-time major winner Brooke Henderson says it will force players to “think [their] way around.” Defending champ Allisen Corpuz predicts it will be a “great championship test.”

“The greens have a lot going on,” Lauren Coughlin says. She’s in the midst of her best season as a pro, and fresh off a T3 at the year’s first major. “If you hit it in the wrong spots, they’re brutal.

It’s impossible to prepare on the range for everything Lancaster will throw at the field this week, but players sure will try. On the far right side of the range, Jin Young Ko begins her practice routine by unpacking her Foresight GCQuad, equipped to track all sorts of data on her every swing. She takes aim at the flagsticks in the front of the range, peppering them with range balls. Not long ago, Ko was the top-ranked golfer in the world and an assassin with a scoring club in her hand, once raking in 63 GIRs in a row. She finished twice in the top five at the national championship, including a runner-up finish in 2020, but a victory has remained elusive.

In Gee Chun might be the player in this week’s field who knows Lancaster C.C. best. She won the U.S. Women’s Open last time it was contested here, in 2015, and has adopted the Amish Country town as her second home. The folks here love her, and she loves them right back, which sounds insignificant but could be quite important when the grandstands fill up this weekend — they’re expected to be some of the rowdiest in recent memory. When Chun steps onto the range, a bleacher filled with fans immediately takes notice.

“We love you In Gee!” one fan yells.

To the left of the bleachers, a gaggle of youngsters waits for autographs, clutching white flags in their hands. Charley Hull walks up puffing a cigarette, stopping to give out her signature while the burning heater dangles from her lips.

Suddenly, everyone’s phones begin to ping with notifications. The whispers follow.

“Did you hear the news?”

lexi thompson wipes tear in pink shirt at grant thornton invitational
After surprise retirement, Lexi Thompson opens up on ‘lonely’ struggle
By: James Colgan

Lexi Thompson has just announced she’ll be retiring at the end of the season. Barring a change of heart, this will be her last U.S. Women’s Open at just 29 years old.

“I feel like I’m very content with where my life is and where this decision will lead me to,” Thompson tells the media later in the afternoon. “I’m just looking forward to what life has in store other than golf.”

Thompson has long been one of the most popular players in women’s golf. Ask even the most casual fan and Thompson’s name is sure to come up. Wins are what has long eluded Lexi, particularly at this tournament, but the golf gods smile upon a sunset story, and from her perch on the range Thompson appeared to be smiling too.

If there were ever a time for that “most popular” moniker to be passed on, it’s this year. Korda enters the week playing the best golf of anyone on the planet. She’s won six tournaments in eight starts and her legend grows each week.

As the world No. 1 walks onto the practice tee — followed by her caddie, agent and physio — no one’s attention is more coveted by autograph-seeking fans. Korda does her best to sign as many flags as possible, but eventually, it’s time to get to work.

Korda’s practice routine starts with some half wedges and she then works her way up through the bag, finishing with driver. All the while, Brett Lederer (the top lieutenant of her main swing coach, Jamie Mulligan) looks on.

“I’ve had Jamie or Brett out here almost every single week,” Korda says. “Making sure that my team is taking time for me as well and coming out and making sure that we’re all dedicated to each other has kind of really been the thing that has changed this year.”

As the sun drops lower and lower in the sky, the cast of characters changes on the range. Korda is replaced by Brooke Henderson, and Hull by Rose Zhang (minus the cigarette). There’s stars and dreamers, established veterans and major championship rookies, all sharing the same space — and all with the same goal: winning the U.S. Women’s Open.

It all starts on the range.

Zephyr Melton Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at

Watch, play, win. Chirp Golf is your home for the best of real money Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and Free-To-Play games.

Watch, play, win

Chirp Golf is your home for the best of real money Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and Free-To-Play games. Featuring simple to play. easy to learn, and fun games. Chirp Golf has something for every golf fan.

Scan to Download:

Google Play Apple Store