In Memory of Joan Comisar

Darlene Anderson laughed when told that Dave Freytag, one of Joan Comisar’s legion of friends, described Comisar’s “big, loopy swing for the ages.”

“Big and loopy,” Anderson echoed. “Only Joan could get away with a swing that big, but she was just so focused.”

Anderson was talking about Comisar a couple of weeks after Comisar passed away on April 30 in Cincinnati of natural causes.

Much of her obituary, of course, concerned itself with her many golf accomplishments, from her four Cincinnati Met championships to her 10 Senior Met championships to her Ohio State Women’s Amateur championship to her 47 club championships, including 29 at Kenwood Country Club. Her accomplishments led to her receiving a bit of national publicity as one of Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” in 2004 and being named in 1990 a Cincinnati Legend of Golf.

What make Comisar’s accomplishments somewhat more remarkable are she got what might be considered a relatively late start in the sport, not picking up a club until she was in her late 20s or early 30s, but golf always was more for her than just championships and honors. What her friends, many of whom related thoughts and memories for a video produced by Kenwood when the club in 2018 commissioned the Comisar Cup to honor its women’s champions, recall was a woman who used the sport as a way of indulging her passion for social interaction.

That’s a fancy way of saying she liked making and keeping friends.

“A lot of people are enamored with her 29 club championships,” Kenwood member Cindy Crilley said a couple of weeks after Comisar’s passing. “For me, she was simply one of my best friends, and she was incredibly compassionate.”

Crilley recalled when her father passed away, shortly after she lost her mother and husband in the same year. “She knew I was having the whole family at my house,” Crilley said. “She showed up with two huge casseroles and salads, and she made sure the dining room was set up.

“Most people know her as a great golfer, but you wanted her as a friend. She was tough. She would tell you what you needed to hear, not what she thought you wanted to hear.” Eileen Woodhouse recalled in the Kenwood video playing a round with Comisar on a hot day before adjourning to Comisar’s home for a pool and refreshments.

“Fast forward 40 years,” Woodhouse went on. “Every year, I’m getting a birthday card with a drawing of a margarita with little umbrellas or bottles of tequila as a reminder.”

Freytag in the video described Comisar as a “very democratic golfer.” “She would play with anyone and not let any of the lesser golfers feel uncomfortable,” Freytag said. “Joan loved the social interaction of golf, but the competitive nature was always there. I‘ve often thought back about how our friendship grew stronger as our games went downhill.”

Comisar perhaps was most famous on the course for her power, which allowed her to compete from the men’s tees. “She evoked awe and fear – fear because I was afraid my drives wouldn’t go as far as her divots,” Crilley observed in the Kenwood video.

Crilley also pointed out that here was more to Comisar’s game than long drives. “She knew how to play each hole,” Crilley said, remembering advice from Comisar on which club to use for a certain shot while they were competing against each other. “If you got into trouble, the first rule was to get out of trouble.”

Comisar was famous not just for her talent, but for her ability to remember and enforce golf’s myriad rules and remember not just her score but the scores of her partners. “She’s got that amazing clear focus,” Crilley said. “She was extremely focused.” “What I remember about Joan is she lost a match to Margaret Hodges at Clovernook Country Club,” Anderson said. “Instead of whining about it, I looked over and there’s Joan hitting 200 balls. That’s what stands out. She was pretty much of a god to the other golfers. She took the game very seriously.”

Comisar also was active in cultivating golf interest in new generations of players, which didn’t go unnoticed by her friends. “I remember you giving back to the game,” Bruce Rotte says in the tribute video. “You gave back to the game in so many ways with the same intensity which you played the game.” “Anybody who’s known Joan feels a tremendous obligation to help,” Crilley said. Crilley wasn’t surprised when somebody mentioned to her that she’d occasionally slipped into the present tense when talking about her long-time friend. “I can’t help it,” Crilley said. “She’s with me always. I’ll tell you something. When she passed away, I felt this incredible onus to start acting better. I felt like I needed to act a little bit more like Joan. Talking to friends now, I say, “We have to behave. We have to act like Joan.”

By Mark Schmetzer

Hello Friends and Golf Opponents of Joan Comisar

Please use the link below to access a special YouTube Tribute to Joan Comisar. I am sure everyone will find it very enjoyable. https://youtu.be/YRdUx6NeFn4

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