By John Strege
It is a story that deserves attention even in the midst of the media frenzy that has surrounded Tiger Woods’ return to competitive golf and Michelle Wie’s victory in the U.S. Women’s Open.
Karen Paolozzi, the first assistant at Atlanta’s Druid Hills Golf Club, became the second woman to make the cut in the PGA Professional National Championship at the Dunes Golf and Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Suzy Whaley was the first woman to do so, in 2005 at Kiawah Island.
“The club membership is going crazy over the coverage and publicity of this,” Druid Hills head pro Chad O’Dell said. “What the coverage might not show is that she’s as approachable and personable an individual as you’ll ever meet. It’s such an interesting combination of skills. There’s not a single bit of intimidation from our female members who take lessons from her, and her game kind of demands respect from the men as well.
“It’s really a unique set of attributes for a club pro that I’ve really never seen before, male or female. How she is as a player is less than how she is as a person around the membership.”
That is high praise indeed, given her ability as a player. She and O’Dell recently won the PGA Georgia Section Pro-Assistant Championship, a 27-hole better-ball affair (see photo above).
“On the last whole we played, 550-yard par 5, I hit my ball out of play,” O’Dell said. “She hit driver and 3-wood straight down the middle and 8-iron to five feet for birdie, a one-legged birdie with her partner in the woods. She had an eagle and six birdies and I had an eagle and four birdies, and we ended up winning by a shot. I’d never won anything before.”
Paolozzi, 31, who played college golf at Indiana, began the third round tied for 31st after rounds of 75 and 71.