The superwomen of golf: Middle-aged, amateur and amazing

The superwomen of golf tee off Saturday morning at Waverley Country Club in Portland, Oregon, at the 56th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship. They’re middle-aged, amateur and amazing!

THE SUPERWOMEN of golf have jobs and pursue their passions. They have children and serve their communities. They have cancer and, yet, they qualify to play in the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship.

Vanessa Zink of the USGA Communications team compiled their stories this year. “The senior women players are legit AMAZING!” she told GottaGoGolf in an email.

Here, we’re sharing just a dozen, in hopes that you too will be inspired. Alas, you won’t see these superwomen on TV, but you can follow the coverage here.


Beatriz Arenas, 69, of Guatemala, is an award-winning artist specializing in oil painting. She played in her first U.S. Women’s Amateur in 2007, advancing to the quarterfinals. Married to a coffee plantation owner, she has represented Guatemala in nine Women’s World Amateur Team Championships, most recently in 2014.

Patricia Cornett, 63, of Mill Valley, Calif., has played in more than 50 USGA championships, starting with the 1971 U.S. Girls’ Junior. She has competed in eight U.S. Women’s Open Championships and was the runner-up in the 1987 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur and a semifinalist in that championship in 1992 and 1999. A graduate of Stanford University and the Medical College of Pennsylvania, she continues to work full time in non-malignant hematology and serves as associate chair for the education department of medicine at the University of California-San Francisco.

Sue Davis, 58, of Aurora, Colo., taught skiing for 18 years in Aspen, Colo. In 2006, she had a fall and thought it was just a shoulder and thumb injury. She began experiencing neurological issues in the weeks after and discovered she had a serious spinal cord injury in her neck. She underwent eight surgeries in two years and had partial paralysis of her right leg and left arm. In 2008, she began to swing a club again and had to learn the game all over again. The following year she qualified for her first U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur at The Homestead in Virginia.

Patsy Ehret, 73, of Stuart, Fla., has survived three different primary cancers. She qualified for the 2016 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur just 40 days after having her third blood transfusion because of radiation and chemotherapy. She helps coach the Martin County Girls Golf Team and has won state titles in South Dakota, Hawaii, Georgia and Florida.

Terri Frohnmayer, 61, of Salem, Ore., works in commercial real estate at First Commercial Real Estate Services, LLC in Salem. A Rollins College Sports Hall of Fame member, she played golf through college, but stopped playing golf to pursue a business career. Approximately 24 years later in 2002, she decided to play again at the urging of her mother and husband. In 2010, she won the PNGA Senior Women’s Championship and followed that by winning the 2011 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur.

Debbie Johnson, 54, of Stamford, Conn., was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2016 and has spent the majority of the year undergoing surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. She manages the treatments just like golf: one shot at a time and one day at a time. When she’s not playing golf or volunteering her time as a rules official for the Connecticut State Golf Association, she works in IT for A+E Networks in New York City.

Denise Kieffer, 57, of University Place, Wash., is a police sergeant who has won multiple championships at both the city and state level in Washington. She is also an accomplished trumpet player.

Andrea Kraus, 56, of Baltimore, Md., played on the Yale University men’s golf team until a women’s program started her junior year and she captained the team. She later earned a law degree from Columbia University. Kraus has volunteered at a domestic violence legal clinic, and currently volunteers for an organization that provides free loans to people in need. She won the Maryland Senior Women’s Amateur Championship in 2011 and 2012. She recorded a hole-in-one the day before she delivered her oldest son in 1989.

Sue O’Connor, 60, of Scottsdale, Ariz., rode her bicycle 4,600 miles from Seattle, Wash., to Atlantic City, N.J., to raise funds for The American Lung Association in 1985. Though she now works as a golf club fitter and builder, she didn’t start playing until she was 35. A former skiing instructor, she gave lessons to Clint Eastwood.

Angela Stewart, 63, of Greenville, N.C. is a physician and founder of Our Children’s Clinic in Winterville, N.C., a full-service medical clinic providing comprehensive pediatric health care from birth to adolescence. She won the 2011 North Carolina Women’s Senior Amateur, becoming the first African-American to win a Carolinas Golf Association championship in 125 years. In 2012, her oral history was documented for the USGA Museum.

Marlene Summers63, of Montgomery, Texas, started a nonprofit organization called Grammy’s Cookie Convoy that ships cookies, cards and letters to troops serving overseas. In 2007, Summers was diagnosed with dermatomyositis, a rare and incurable autoimmune disease. She was bedridden for six months and had to relearn how to walk. She credits the courage of the troops she supports with helping her overcome her health struggles. She has flown a fighter jet.

Marie-Therese Torti, 54, of Canada, is the 2017 Quebec Senior Match Play champion and was a member of the Quebec Provincial Team for 12 consecutive years (1995-2006). A breast cancer survivor and member of Golf Canada’s board of governors from 2006-12, she also won the 2010 Golf Canada Women’s Mid-Amateur and the 2013 Quebec Senior Women’s Amateur. In 2012, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and after undergoing surgery and radiotherapy, she is in remission.

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