By Mark Schmetzer
Eleanor Hudepohl played high school golf at Ursuline Academy in Blue Ash, but she somehow avoided playing even one round at Blue Ash Golf Course.
Her first experience proved to be rewarding. The Creighton University junior, who plays out of O’Bannon Creek Golf Club, shot a 73-71-72 – 216 to win the 108th Women’s Metropolitan Amateur Championship on May 31-June 2.
Hudepohl, an Anderson Township resident, finished eight strokes ahead of Maketewah Country Club’s and two-time Met champion Allison Gonring, who shot a 77-71-76 – 224. Gonring was the defending champion after edging Hudepohl in 2022 at Loveland’s O’Bannon Creek Golf Club.
“Growing up in Cincinnati, that is THE tournament, and to win was amazing,” Hudepohl said on August 10, one day before heading back to Omaha, Neb., for her junior year at Creighton. “I came close last year, but I had no expectations this year. It’s just fun to play with the same people year after year. I played the final round with Ali. She’s amazing.
“I had never played Blue Ash before. It’s a fun course to play. You have to make different tee shots, and the holes are different every day, so you have to be creative and take what the course gives you. I had a lot of pars and my putts fell.”
Lynn Thompson of O’Bannon Creek Golf Club won the 52nd Jane DeGroff Flight Senior Met with a 82-81 – 163, three strokes ahead of Little Miami Golf Center’s Carolyn Mindel. Miami Whitewater Forest Golf Course’s Rainey Rohrmeier won the Diane Calkins Flight and Triple Crown Country Club’s Patty Bracken won the Carol Johnson Flight.
Thompson, with her fourth championship in five years, her fifth in seven years and her ninth overall, now is tied with Marg Lillard and Joan Comisar for the most Senior Women’s Met championships since records started being kept in 1975.
The Met win started an impressive summer for Hudepohl. She was part of a four-way playoff at the United States Women’s Amateur qualifying event in Dayton and ended up as the first alternate. She followed up by finishing as the runner up at the Ohio Women’s Amateur Tournament at Scioto Country Club on July 24-27, losing 3-and-2 in the match-play final.
“I think that four-way playoff set me up for the Ohio Am,” she said.
Hudepohl didn’t start playing golf until her Ursuline freshman year, when she moved up from team manager to player.
She was named Girls Greater Catholic League Player of the Year twice and won a Greater Cincinnati Golf Association Junior Girls Met title.
She believes her run this summer started last fall when she won Creighton’s Big O Classic – the program’s home tournament – and added the title at the Motor City Classic to become the Bluejays’ first-ever player to win a pair of tournaments in the same season on her way to being named first-team All-Big East.
Hudepohl set a program single-season record with a 75.17 scoring average over 30 rounds. She had five rounds of par or better and finished in the 70s in 29 of her 30 rounds.
“The work finally paid off,” said Hudepohl, a 2021 Greater Cincinnati Women’s Golf Association Scholarship for Higher Education (SHE) recipient. “I think that kick-started my entire year rolling into summer.”
Hudepohl is pursuing double majors in economics and theology at Creighton, a Jesuit university famous for producing, among others, Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson. Among other activities, she also serves as co-president of the student-athlete advisory committee and has written for the student newspaper.
“Double majors at (Division I) schools are rare, and I’m grateful to be able to do that,” she said. “This year, I’m doing a lot of extracurriculars. Being in the honors program out there gives me a lot of flexibility.”
She also listed on the Creighton website “Artistic Ability” as her hidden talent, but she admitted to not having a favorite outlet. For her, it’s more like just letting flow her creative juices.
“It’s just something I do for fun,” said Hudepohl, whose favorite club is her driver. “It’s like golf. You have to be creative. I do like the driver. I hit a lot of fairways. I like playing on the tree-lined courses.”
The only downside to Hudepohl’s summer was not getting to attend one of Taylor Swift’s “Eras Tour” concerts. Swift, one of Hudepohl’s go-to pre-game music artists along with contemporary Christian group Mercy Me, performed two shows at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati and is scheduled for two more in Indianapolis in November.
“I wish I did,” she lamented about attending one of the Cincinnati events. “I tried to get tickets for Indianapolis.”