By Mark Schmetzer
Adorning the top of the east pillar at the entrance to Summit Hills Country Club is a birdhouse. While functional, it’s also ornamental. It resembles a silo, a tribute to the heritage of the club that’s celebrating in 2018 its 90th year of existence.
Summit Hills, this year’s site of the 103rd Greater Cincinnati Women’s Golf Association Metropolitan, was built and opened in Crestview Hills, Ky., at the corner of Turkeyfoot Road and Dudley Road in 1929 on the acreage formerly occupied by the financially strapped Summit Dairy Farm.
Summit Hills, according to a brief history prepared by current general manager Robert E. Sergent, was the brainchild of Covington businessman Joseph Macke. His father-in-law, Harry Hartke, owned the farm and leased the property to his son-in-law for $4,000 a year. “We’re old, but we’re not the oldest,” Sergent said during an interview in the lobby of Summit Hills’s clubhouse, which replaced the clubhouse lost to a fire in 1952. “The barn was the first clubhouse.”
Camargo Country Club golf pro William Jackson laid out the course. He put together a design in one evening based on a government topographical map and made adjustments after walking the grounds the next day. Jackson’s princely price for the job? Twenty-five bucks and a quart of whiskey. “It’s not a long course,” Sergent said. “It’s a shotmaker’s course. I’ve seen many golfers finish rounds shaking their heads because it was more difficult than they thought it would be. “Architects need to route the course around the land features,” he pointed out. “The land tells you where the holes go. The course is in impeccable condition with firm and fast greens.”
Women need to traverse anywhere from 4,845 yards to 5,739 from Summit Hills’ three women tees – white, teal and red. The course features five par 3s, one more than the average number, and four par 5s, including the first hole. “It has its hazards,” Sergent said of the first hole. Sergent’s favorite hole is No. 8, especially when soaking in the view from the middle of the fairway. “It’s a beautiful design,” he said.
The Women’s Met returns to Summit Hills for the first time since 2006, when Carling Coffing won while playing out of Brown’s Run, and just the second since the GCWGA started in 1961 recording the site of each year’s tournament. Former GCWGA co-president Nancy Creevy is looking forward to it. Creevy, a 42-year Summit Hills member with her husband, Dr. Joseph Creevy, will play for the first time since 2016. “Summit has had a few remodelings,” said Creevy, a former Summit Hills club champion. “It’s tougher than it used to be.”
Past Women's Met Champions: Katie Hallinan
By Mark Schmetzer
Katie Hallinan is planning to have a less busy summer this year than last, but the 2016 Women’s Met champion also is hoping to return for the 2018 event, scheduled for June 5-8 at Summit Hills.
“I haven’t quite worked out my schedule yet, but I’d like to play in the Met,” Hallinan said on April 17. “I always like playing in that tournament.”
Hallinan hopes to spend a little more time at home before leaving to continue her career and education at Illinois. She planned to be rooting in person for the Illini when they compete in the Big Ten Women’s Golf Championships at TPC River’s Bend course in Maineville April 19-22.
“I’m lucky,” said the Loveland resident, who plays out of Majestic Springs Golf Club in Wilmington. “It’s just a 10-minute drive from my house. It’s a great course.”
She also plans to spend more time honing her game for the next college season. She was, in fact on her way to practice at Lebanon’s Southwest Golf Ranch, which is co-owned by her long-time coach, Kevin O’Sullivan. She expects to focus on her short game, she said. “Mainly my putting,” she said. “I give myself a lot of opportunities that don’t translate to the scorecard because I don’t make the putt.”
Those problems haven’t kept Hallinan from building an impressive golf resume, to which she added last fall the Ohio high school Division I girls’ state championship. The Walnut Hills senior finished a record three-under par during the two-day, 36-hole event at Ohio State University. Her performance was the result in part of deciding in the seventh or eighth grade to focus on golf, giving up figure skating and Tae Kwan Do, in which she’d reached the black belt level.’
“I did some of the weird sports,” she said. “For five years, I was doing all three. I did tournaments in all three sports. I decided I had to focus on one. The older I got, the more I knew I had to make this decision to do one. I started thinking, ‘In 10 years, do I still see myself figure skating or fighting?’ I loved doing both, but I had to pick one sport where I knew I’d got the furthest in – where, if I put the work in, it could be great. Golf was the sport I could see my future in, especially after college.”
Hallinan has been playing golf since, as she recalled, she was 8 or 9 years old, when her father, Noel, started, as she described, “dragging” her to the driving range.
“I didn’t want to go,” she recalled. “They forced me to go to junior golf camps. I only found fun in it when I would win the little competitions. When I started winning more, I started getting more into it. It took a while, but it sort of evolved from there. I’m a pretty competitive person.”
A fractured right wrist, suffered in sixth grade during a recess soccer match, only slightly slowed her down. “I was going to play a lot of tournaments that summer,” she said.
While expecting to cut back on tournaments this summer, she’ll more than make up for the down time once she begins classes at Illinois. Besides playing golf, Hallinan plans to major in molecular biology with a pre-med focus with the goal of becoming a pediatric oncologist. That’s been her academic focus since grade school, when she watched a classmate diagnosed with cancer keep getting worse until his treatment helped turn him around. “As far as I know, he’s doing well,” she said, indicating she checks in every once in a while on Facebook. “Ever since I knew what pediatric oncology was, that’s what I wanted to be.”
Still, she expects to face a difficult decision when she’s ready to graduate in four years. Stay on the medical path or try professional golf? “That’s a tough question,” she said, admitting to leaning now toward golf. “Of course, you know I want to, and that’s the goal. You can’t play this level of competitive golf without that goal. I told myself I’ve got four years to make that decision.” Luckily, she got used a decade earlier to making difficult decisions.
2017 Women's Metropolitan Champion Ali Green Reflects on her Win
The 103rd Women's Met will be played at Summit Hills on June 5-8. Registration is open now at GCGA.org. Last year's champion, Ali Green, spoke with us about the impact winning the Met has had this past year and her plans for the future.
Q1.What impact did winning the 2017 Met have on you, if any?
I have competed in the Cincinnati Metropolitan Women’s Amateur Championship for the past 6 years, and I’ve always dreamt of winning due to the high caliber field it always yields. Before I won the last year, I never quite realized how historic the event was until I saw my name etched into the silver tray along with all of the other past champions. I feel honored and humbled to have my name associated with the tournament’s history. The impact winning had on me and my game was the immense confidence that was restored. I had a lot of success in my collegiate career, but the time I’ve spent teaching and coaching girl’s golf hindered my chance to practice and play. So winning helped both helped me restore my confidence and realize my ability to keep my game sharp while trying to juggle work, too.
Q2. What has the year after the win been like for you?
The year following the Met has been up and down. I continued to play in some more events over the summer, but had a lot of pain in my right wrist and found out I had a cyst one of the bones in my wrist and needed surgery to remove it. So, I’ve had to deal with the recovery process and getting healthy more than I have been able to work on my game. But I am confident that I will be ready at the beginning of June to defend my title.
Q3. How has winning impacted on your golf game?
Winning the Met was an amazing experience and only helped my golf game. This win added more confidence to my golf game and also helped me realize that even though I am working full time I am still able to compete with a high caliber group of women.
Q4. What are your thoughts on the Met this year?
The Met has always been a tournament that I look forward to playing in and that has not changed going into this golf season. I am extremely excited about the host course and to kick the tournament season off with such a great event. There definitely will be some added pressure to defend my title from last year, but that will only motivate that much more to play my best.
Q5. Tell us about your plans for the future - is golf a part of them?
Answering the question about my future is a very hard question to answer. Currently, I am an Intervention Specialist for students with disabilities at Reading Middle School and an assistant girl’s golf coach at Lakota East High School. In the summers I work at Four Bridges Country Club in the pro shop. I love my jobs and they have been amazing for me post-graduation. However, I do not know what my future holds. I have always had a dream of playing professional golf and I would love to make that dream come true. But either way, golf will always be a part of my life--both playing for fun and in other amateur competitions. I am a very competitive person and know I will be playing in tournaments for as long as I can.