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  • Writer's pictureLeigh Gerstenberger

A True Champion

I took up the game of golf in my late ‘30s.  While not a natural athlete, I became interested in the game when I realized that I was the only person in the office on Wednesday afternoons as the rest of my colleagues were out on the golf course entertaining clients and prospects.  It didn’t take me long to realize that “something was wrong with this picture” so I set about correcting this situation.

As I’ve often shared, I do everything backwards.  The first thing I did was join a country club.  Then I purchased a set of golf clubs and began taking lessons!  While I’ve now been playing golf for more than forty years, I’m still not very proficient at it as my handicap remains in the high teens.

For me, golf is about people and building relationships.  Case in point… I have a wonderful relationship with my son that, in part, I attribute to golf.  Once I realized that this was something that we could do together and that he actually enjoyed spending 4 – 5 hours with me I came to relish our days together on the golf course.  For thirty years now we’ve played golf all over the world.  As I write this, we are looking forward to a “bucket list” trip that will include several days of golf later this summer on California’s Monterrey Peninsula.

My son developed his love of the game in large part due to the caddie program at Sewickley Heights Golf Club not far from where he was raised.  From the time he was in his teens, the professional staff at the club gave him opportunities to caddie and “play on Mondays”.  As a result, he had the opportunity to hone not only his “playing skills” but his “people skills” by watching and emulating successful businessmen and women play the game and interact with each other and the club’s staff.  

Sewickley Heights Golf Club was founded in 1961 by Harton “Bud” Semple and four of his friends who all had a passion for the game of golf.  Semple’s daughter Carol Semple Thompson, a Pittsburgh area native, followed in her father’s footsteps and is one of the most prominent, American women golfers of all time.  Among her many accomplishments, she is only one of five individuals to have won three different USGA individual championships.  The others being JoAnne Carner, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods.

Due to his daughter’s success and his love of the game, Bud Semple served as the president of the USGA in 1974 and 1975.  Today the Women’s U.S. Open is the premier championship event in women’s golf and the winner receives the Harton S. Semple Trophy.

The 2024 U.S. Women’s Open concluded on Sunday, June 2, 2024, with a victory by Yuka Saso who won the event for the second time.

I thought the following article from GOLF magazine was a wonderful tribute to a true champion who displayed tremendous humility in victory.  I hope it inspires you today.

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