Fresh off a victory at the 2011 New England Women’s Golf Association championship, Pam Kuong said she was ready to defend her Massachusetts state amateur title next week at Weston Country Club.
Drain-O! Kuong, who carded a one-stroke victory over Mary Chamberlain at Shuttle Meadow Country Club in Kensington, Conn., on July 20, was a putting machine in the three-day NEWGA competition, draining almost every five-foot putt she saw. The five-foot, half-inch golfer was a study in consistency as well, missing only two fairways, according to the Hartford Courant.
Kuong, who began her competitive golf career just five years ago, credited her ability to “contend in any tournament I enter” to her tranquil demeanor.
“I realized I am very fortunate that I don’t really get nervous at golf tournaments,” Kuong said in an e-mail. “I am extremely calm and just enjoy the fact I’m on a beautiful golf course competing in a golf tournament.”
Kuong, a senior vice president of commercial lending with Bank of America, is a strong believer in training the mind for golf and has read books by renowned mental coach Bob Rotella, among others. She learned most about the psychic side of sports, however, as assistant coach of the Bernal’s Gator national swim team for six years.
“I did a lot of work on the mental training side with the kids,” Kuong said. “I have definitely transferred some of the skills I taught to the kids to the golf course.”
Kuong also believed her status as a 50-year-old with a rewarding career provided a perspective that some other contenders may not enjoy.
“My life isn’t going to change if I win a golf tournament [since] a college scholarship isn’t on the line,” she said. “In my case, regardless of how I do at a tournament, the next day I show up for work.”
Kuong became serious about golf after years of playing in corporate client outings. She entered her first state am tilt in 2007 by chance, after another member of Charles River Country Club suggested she pay the $68 entry fee and play “‘this’ tournament,” she told us during the 2009 state am. “She didn’t tell me it was the Mass. Amateur.”
Kuong, who won the state am title in 2008 as well, will begin her defense on Monday and faces a strong field that includes Chamberlain, who no doubt will be seeking revenge for her close call at NEWGA. While such top state golfers as Tracy Martin and Claire Sheldon will also take their shots at Kuong, the 2010 Women’s Golf Association of Massachusetts Player of the Year will not be among them.
Sidelined. Tara Joy Connelly, 2003 state amateur champion and seven-time PoY, has been sidelined for much of the season with a shoulder injury. While a bone spur in her left shoulder did not cause many problems off the course, Connelly said she finally agreed to surgery in May after experiencing pain at the top of her golf swing.
“I tried to do some physical therapy to avoid [the operation],” said Connelly, who added that her doctor recommended she not play in the “six rounds in four days” that the state am requires.
Connelly will make her comeback the following week in the Grace Keyes Cup at Oakley CC in Watertown.
Speaking of state championships, read how a Rhode Island TV station aired a faked golf tourney with no disclaimer and still got it wrong.