By Mark Schmetzer
“We Are a Go for Launch” the Greater Cincinnati Golf Association announced triumphantly on its website after the Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that golf could resume after being suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That meant local women could look forward to competing in the 105th Metropolitan Women’s Amateur Championship June 10-11 at Wetherington Golf and Country Club in West Chester. The eventual winner could look forward to challenging Olga Weil’s record of Met championships. Good luck.
Olga Weil, often referred to in newspaper coverage as Mrs. Burt Weil, won a record 13 Met championships over a span of 24 years from 1931 through 1954. Weil’s title run includes five straight from 1945 through 1949. She also enjoyed two spans of three straight championships, 1934 through 1936 and 1952 through 1954.
The span of time between her first and last championships remains the widest among the 22 women who have won multiple Met championships in their careers. Weil, to borrow a recent Ford advertising phrase, didn’t raise the bar for local women’s golf. She was the bar for almost a quarter century.
Weil, who died of cancer at the age of 59 in 1963, became in 1987 the first woman to be honored by the annual Legends of Golf tournament. “She had a brain of steel, and you’ve got to have that to play with the best,” four-time Met champion Louise Kepley told the Cincinnati Enquirer at the tournament. “She was probably one of the finest players this state has ever seen.”
Diem recalled at the event advice Weil had offered decades earlier. “’You never think about the hole you just played,’” Diem said, quoting Weil. “’If you do that, you’ll play par golf.’ She always said, ‘When you lose, you lose with a smile,’ but she could say that a lot, because she very seldom lost.”
While Weil played golf for most of her life, it actually was the third sport at which she excelled. As Olga Strashun, she captained the University of Cincinnati women’s basketball team and was president of UC’s Women’s Athletic Association in the early 1920s, earning induction in the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1982.
Weil also excelled at tennis, capturing the 1924 Ohio and Tri-State singles championships. She also, with Louis Kuhler, won the 1922 Ohio mixed doubles championship and, with Clara Louise Zinke, the 1927 Tri-State women’s double’s title. The Tri-State tournament was the forerunner of today’s Western & Southern Open.
While her accomplishments in basketball and tennis are impressive, Weil’s enduring legacy is extricably linked to golf. Besides her local success, she was a finalist in the 1941 Women’s Western Open at Cincinnati Country Club. She capped her local career by romping to a 9-and-8 win over Meg Lillard in a 28-hole match-play Met final at Maketewah before back problems forced her to give up competitive golf.
Weil’s impact on local golf continued after she passed away. Losantiville Country Club, her long-time home course, created a tournament in her honor the year after her passing. It was played annually from 1964 to 1981 before being temporarily abandoned after the death of her husband. The tournament was briefly revived in 1985 at Blue Ash Golf Course, an effort led by Howard Dammel, who often played in the first version at Losantiville.
“Everyone who knew her, loved her,” Dammel said in the Enquirer of Olga Weil. “She was a fine athlete and sportswoman. She was never a sore loser and a big asset to golf in Cincinnati.” Perhaps Weil was so beloved because of her approach to the competition, which she saw as a learning experience for life. “For every cup of honor that I’ve tried for – and sometimes won,” she once said, “I’ve always felt that since all life is a winning of this, a losing of that, one of the best places to prepare to lose and not to alibi, and to win and not to exult, is in athletics.”