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Now Taking Center Stage

by Steve Mims

Before her out-of-nowhere win at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in April, Anna Davis (and her twin brother Billy) collected numerous titles in Washington.

Among their many WJGA state titles, Billy and Anna both won the 2017 titles for their age group (8-11).

Anna and Billy Davis spend the school year playing in San Diego Junior Golf Association events.

But each summer, the Davis’ head to Chewelah, Wash. to compete on the Washington Junior Golf Association circuit.

And compete they do. Anna won the 8-11 Girls WJGA State Championship three times (2015-2017) and the 14-15 Girls State Championship in 2020. Her twin brother Billy won the 8-11 Boys WJGA State Championship in 2017, and the 14-15 Boys State Championship this past summer.

“We have been so fortunate that our kids are able to take part in Southern California junior golf and then escape in the summer to go live in Chewelah and play Washington junior golf,” said their father, Bill Davis.

The 16-year old twins have become among the top junior performers in two states and garnered national recognition when Anna stunned the golf world by winning the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in April. The lefty shot a 3-under-par 69 in the final round to finish at 1-under 215, the lone competitor in a field filled mostly with collegiate golfers to break par during the three-day event.

“I didn’t really expect it, but winning against some of the top amateurs is definitely a confidence booster because now I know that I can keep up with them,” said Anna, a sophomore who takes online courses at Steele Canyon High School in San Diego.

Her family followed her around the grounds at Augusta National in bucket hats that matched Anna’s look.

“That was a really cool experience,” Billy said. “Walking around the course and looking at all the history, and then seeing my sister win, was one of the greatest times of my life.”

The victory came one year after Davis won her first AJGA event, the Heather Farr Classic. She also was named to the 2021 U.S. Junior Solheim Cup team, and won the Girls’ Junior PGA in July to earn a berth at the Augusta event.

Her first big junior championship came at age nine, when she won the WJGA state title at Gold Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton, Wash.

Billy, a sophomore at St. Augustine High School in San Diego where his dad works as a teacher, won a WJGA state championship last summer at Glendale Country Club in Bellevue, Wash.

“It was a huge advantage for us to get to compete against each other and feed off each other as our games grew,” Billy says.

In 1989, Bill Davis and his brother, Sam, were among the first people to purchase property on Chewelah Golf & Country Club, a 27-hole layout located 45 minutes northwest of Spokane. Bill and Beatriz Davis take the family to their one-bedroom summer cabin every year.

“When I was younger, it was always a good place to go golf because in a small town, the only thing you really do there is golf,” Anna said. “The entire summer was spent on a golf course. It was a nice little escape.”

Anna and Billy were two years old when they began hitting plastic golf balls in the forest surrounding the golf course. They were competing in tournaments by age five.

It was a family affair at Augusta, with all wearing Anna’s now-signature bucket hats as they followed Anna. Left to right are Bill Davis (dad), Beatriz Kosonoy (mom), Anna, twin brother Billy, and cousin Lachlan.

“The first thing I did when they could stand up was put a golf club in their hands,” Bill Davis said. “They graduated to chipping on the green and hitting on the driving range. Then they would hit balls in our house because there was nothing in the little cabin to break. It was pretty funny because guests would come over and sit around dodging plastic golf balls.”

With Anna a left-hander and Billy hitting right-handed, the two are often face-to-face on the driving range.

“You always have someone around to keep you in check and someone to compete against, so you are always focused,” Anna says. “That was a big advantage growing up.”

Anna won’t be competing much in Washington this summer. Over this past winter she was by chance featured in the USGA’s Golf Journal magazine, and her win at Augusta has vaulted her into the national golf consciousness and opened the doors to several national and international events, making her world a lot bigger.

Billy will compete in the WJGA championship during a summer schedule that also includes a trip to the Western Junior in Chicago. He will also try to reach the U.S. Junior Amateur at Bandon Dunes during a qualifier in Portland in June.

“The Washington Junior Golf Association was really accepting of two kids that were kind of foreigners,” Bill Davis said. “They got to play golf all year and then showed up in the summer when a lot of other kids were just starting up again after the winter. We never got any sense of somebody not liking that, which may have been understandable in some places. Washington junior golf has been fantastic. We have made some great friendships over the years.”

Steve Mims spent 21 years as a sportswriter at the Eugene Register-Guard. He was a finalist for Oregon Sportswriter of the Year in 2017.