By Mark Schmetzer

Clearly, there was plenty of credit to spread around for the Low Gross winning team at the 2023 Low Kent Tournament on July 19 at TPC Rivers Bend.

The squad of Holly Jones, Lynn Thompson, Nancy DeCenso and Janice Kunkemoeller combined to shoot a 142, 12 strokes ahead of the team of Jan Kiefhaber, Betsy Coith, Leslie  Huesman and Maryanne Cardone.

By virtue of Kent Memorial rules, which disallow one team to win both the Low Gross and Low Net championships, the latter crew captured the Low Net title with a 136, one stroke better than the teams of Robin Smith, Pat Dunn, Meredith Ducey and Emily Soller and UnAe Mueller, Denise Wareham, Diane Bizzari and Jeri Vickers.

Jones, the current Greater Cincinnati Women’s Golf Association president, was impressed with how her team was able to blister the competition.

“We had eight birdies,” said Jones, who plays with Thompson out of O’Bannon Creek Golf Club. “Lynn pointed out that Nancy had the first birdie. We had some bogies, but overall, we just played great. Just as a team, we were all reading putts”

“It was truly a team effort and a special day at TPC,” Thompson, a member with DeCenso at Terrace Park Country Club, wrote in an email. “Everyone was making putts, especially when it counted. Nancy made our first birdie of the day. Holly had a wonderful round and got us going. Janice was always there when we needed her to make crucial putts. TPC is a hard course and after 4-5 holes we were all feeling a little overwhelmed, but what a rally we had and we finished strong!

“A fun day to remember with a great group!

“It was a real treat playing with Lynn and Holly,” Kunkemoeller wrote, also in an email. “I get to play with Nancy all the time. These two ladies are amazing. When I ever get a birdie, it’s a big deal to me, but these two ladies were getting birdies like they were pars.  I think the most amazing part of it all is that both of them are so humble.  They are so encouraging, engaging, and supportive. Truly a fun group of ladies to play the wonderful sport of golf with.”

“From my perspective, I watched in amazement as Holly and Lynn managed to make birdies all day long,” DeCenso added in, yes, another email. “We finished on a par 5 and both of them had birdies. Yes, Janice and I contributed a little, but those two were a force to reckon with!”

Her team really didn’t know how well they’d done until finishing their rounds and seeing the scores posted on Golf Genius.

“It was one of those things where you never really know until you’re coming in and putting in your scores,” she said.

Coith’s team took a similar approach, relying on Clovernook Country Club’s Huesman to upload the scores after they had completed their rounds.

“We finished up and entered the scores, and we were like, “Hey, we did pretty well,” recalled Coith, a Cincinnati Country Club member with Kiefhaber.

Her team squeezed in by virtue of the 15-20-foot birdie putt sunk by Cardone, who plays out of Hyde Park Country Club, on the final hole.

“She hadn’t been playing well all day,” Coith divulged. “We told her, ‘We’ll give you five bucks if you sink this.’ She made it and I searched through my purse and dug out five bucks.”

That was another area where waiting until the end to enter the scores paid off – so to speak.

“It’s a good thing she didn’t know how close it was,” Coith added with a laugh. “She never would have made that putt if she’d known.”

July’s hot, wet weather made the TPC course a challenge, Coith recalled.

“It was very wet,” she said. “We were cart-path only that day. The course played really long. It was a detriment to all the players. It’s a long course anyway, so that made it that much longer. We were out there for five-plus hours. It was grueling, but fun.”

The Low Kent and its counterpart, the High Kent, were created in the mid-1950s in honor of Mrs. Sydney B. Kent, a long-time Cincinnati Country Club and Women’s Western Golf Association board member who maintained in her life a keen interest in teaching ethics, courtesies and rules of the game to junior golfers. The tournament originally was a net best-ball foursome before evolving into flighted events at two different courses with gross and net prizes.