Sports

July 18, 2013

All that she can be

Golf is latest challenge met by King

Even if Sue King weren’t one of the area’s top female golfers at age 60, and even if she wasn’t recently in contention to win her flight at the Georgia State Golf Association’s Senior Women’s Match Play Championship, she would still need to have her story told.

But which story?

Hers is a story with many different beginnings, different challenges and different endings. It isn’t just the story of a woman who can blister a drive straight down the fairway and make a guy half her age hang his head in shame. It isn’t just the story of a golfer with a smooth putting stroke and a gentle touch around a sloping green. It isn’t just the story of a woman who walks out onto the tee box and can intimidate the male members of her foursome.

The Chatsworth resident is much more than just a golfer, much more than just a competitor and much more than just a solid player to have in your foursome with a scramble title on the line. She is more than just a teacher of the game to others who seek advice. And she’s more than a late bloomer who found a new athletic home on the fairways and greens.

Sue King’s story is all of those things, but it is so much more.

Her story is not just a sports story. It is the story of an extraordinary life. A driver and a putter and quite possibly the coolest golf bag in the nation are just a little part of it.

On the course

Before you get deeper into King’s story, know that she doesn’t know herself what all of the fuss is about. To her way of thinking there isn’t anything special about her.

“What can I help you with, Mr. Whitfield?” she asked when I contacted her on the phone a couple of weeks ago.

“I’d like to talk with you a little bit about some of the recent success you have had in some of the GSGA women’s events,” I said.

“Oh. Well, I play,” she said. “I got your message and wondered why in the world anyone from the newspaper would be calling me. I’m not very newsworthy.”

Let’s start with the golf and work from there.

King was 44 when she first put a tee in the ground in 1997. She has always been an athletic woman — she played competitive softball for years — but golf is a different beast. It can be a maddening game, forcing you to either give it up or find some way to overcome its challenges and demands. King doesn’t back down from many challenges — but more on that later.

On the course, it was slow going at first, but King kept at it. She needed some sort of athletic outlet after years of softball and the demands of her life’s career choice — the military — left her body beaten and battered. She found people who were willing to help her with her game and received her biggest encouragement and playing boost from Rochelle Weaver of Resaca, who is quite an accomplished senior women’s golfer as well. Weaver was the 2000 Senior Women’s champion and her name is prominent throughout the GSGA championship results archives.

“It wasn’t until 1999 or 2000 that I thought I was any good,” King said. “I met Rochelle, and she told me I could be a pretty good golfer. I respected her game and her opinion, and her respect meant a lot to me.”

King’s game has gotten better and better. Weaver encouraged King to play on the statewide level. That decision came back to haunt Weaver earlier this year when King won 1-up while the two played each other in the first flight bracket at the GSGA Senior Women’s Match Play Championship. King ended up losing in the semifinals in a 20-hole match against Sharpsburg’s Ellen Connors.

King routinely shoots in the mid-70s and carries a 6.1 United States Golf Association handicap rating. Only the elite amateur golfers in the nation can show up at a USGA qualifier and play for a chance to make any of their national competitions —U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, U.S. Senior, etc. If a golfer wants to qualify to play in the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championships, she must have a handicap below 18.4.

King is more than qualified on a golf course.

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