By Mark Schmetzer

New blood played a key role in two teams winning long-awaited division championships in the Greater Cincinnati Women’s Golf Association Fall Team tournament.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to Ivy Hills Country Club doubling its women’s membership role, helping lead to the club’s first-ever Division I championship, team captain Denise Meismer said. The infusion of new talent paid off.

Ivy Hills went undefeated in each of its match play events and piled up 22 points in Week Five at Clovernook Country Club to move up from third place to first and capture the Division I title, 83-76.5, over Oasis Golf Club, the defending division champion. That title comes on the heels of Ivy Hills winning the Division II championship last season and in 2020.

“This has been a big year for us,” Meismer said. “We had never won. I checked with our old fall team captain. We had bounced from Division II to Division I, but I looked at the plaques last week at our end-of-the-season dinner. We’ve been pretty consistent since 2018.

“I think we were as surprised as anybody. Normally, once we get into Division I, we get relegated back to Division II. Division I is a tough crowd.”

Buoyed by the transfusion of two top players, the O’Bannon Creek Golf Club team put together an impressive stretch run to capture the Division IV championship.

For various reasons, members Kyle Earhart and Connie Hilliard weren’t able to noticeably participate in the GCWGA Spring Team event, but they were available to play in the Fall Team competition. They contributed to an 82-77.5 win over Four Bridges Country Club to win O’Bannon’s first title in team captain Connie Seeskin’s memory.

“It was great,” said Seeskin, who served as the division’s chairperson. “I don’t know if it happened years ago. It’s been quite some time”

The Maketewah Country Club team captained by Robin Kofler earned a promotion to Division I for next year’s tournament by edging the Kenwood Country Club squad, 77-76. Kenwood led Maketewah, 76-58, going into the final round, but Maketewah capitalized on Kenwood hosting the final round and being unable to compete to pull out the one-point win.

Captain Patty Bracken’s Triple Crown Country Club team was tied with the Summit Hills Country Club crew led by Cheri Myers going into the final round of the Division III tournament at Coldstream Country Club and posted a 19.5 Week Five score to Summit Hills’s 18, pulling out a 76.5-75 win.

Jody Rusche’s Heritage Club team blistered the Stillmeadow Country Club course for a Week Five score of 24 that was good enough for an 80.5-77 win over Ft. Mitchell Country Club and the Division V title. Carol Pecord accepted the plaque on the last day, Division V chairman Patty Horne reported.

The increase in Ivy Hills’s membership was fortified by improvements in the games of many of the new faces, Meismer said. Judy Frey, Louise Cook and Diana Oberschmidt were among key members of the team. Of the nine members who played in the fall event, four were veterans, four were in their second year and one was a rookie.

“As their golf games have gotten better, they’ve gotten more comfortable,” Meismer said. “It’s been great. Amy Young is in her second season, and she was outstanding in three of the four events. Tote Brodbeck played well. She was in her second year. Judy Frey came on strong.

“Not to toot my own horn, but in three of the four events, I had my lowest scores of the season,” she added.

At Meismer’s urging, Ivy Hills arranged a celebration dinner on October 25.

“I said, ‘Hey, we won Division I,’” she said. “’In my mind, that makes us the best team in the city.’”

Kathie Kuzma, Diane Meiners, Karen Diercks and Donna Heine all contributed to O’Bannon’s championship, capped with Seeskin presenting the plaque to the four-member team on the final day. Luckily, being division chairperson, Seeskin had it with her.

Though she didn’t actually play any of the four rounds, Seeskin – who took over for Eve Enders as Fall Team captain after Enders was elected to the O’Bannon Creek board – played a key role in O’Bannon’s effort simply by not playing favorites.

“The thing you could say is I put our best players who were available on the field,” she said. “That’s how a normal coach would do it. I was managing the team to win. We played poorly in our first match, but we came on strong. We scored over 20 points in each of our last three matches.”

The 2023 Fall Team event was split into five five-team divisions for the first time in Seeskin’s memory, but she anticipates it reverting to four divisions next year because at least one team is having trouble recruiting enough players to field a team.