It's too early in most areas of the country for golfers to be worried about their club's big show now, but that crown jewel -- the club championship -- will be front and center before you know it. And anyone who thinks they're a contender will be in full preparation mode. In most cases, the field will be wide open with plenty of favorites. But in the case of the profiled subject to follow, a dominant pattern of winning can bring with it the heavy toll of jealousy and contempt.
McKitrick wins another, wants more, more, more
The numbers roll off of Arlene McKitrick's tongue in a simple tone, as if she were recalling the items on a grocery list. But she's actually listing the number of golf tournaments she's won.
Club championships won: 95. Senior tournaments won: 60. Other countries she's won titles in: nine.
McKitrick, a resident of Longboat Key, Fla., upped her total number of tournament victories to 171 this past weekend, winning Longboat Key Club's women's club championship for the 35th consecutive year. According to our records, her 95 club titles are a record for male or female winning championships at multiple clubs, and her 35 titles at Longboat Key are fourth-best for a single club for women and are the most consecutively won for either sex.
McKitrick's club-championship victory breakdown by club includes: Longboat Key Club, 35; TPC Prestancia, 9; New Albany Country Club, 9; Tartan Fields, 8; Congressional, 7; Ritz-Carlton Members Club, 6; Concession, 5; The Oaks, 5; Sara Bay, 4; The Lakes, 3; Washingtonian, 2, and Wintergreen, 2. A member now of at least three clubs, McKitrick can't add to her Washingtonian total: According to Golf Digest Architecture Editor Ron Whitten, the 36-hole facility closed its courses by 1986.
And to think she could have won more. Of the eight tournaments she's lost, she was runner-up in all of them.
McKitrick, who didn't start playing golf until she was 30, is 65 and clearly living by the Golf Digest motto to "Think young, play hard."
"I'm just hoping that I can continue playing good golf for as long as I live," she said. She gets inspiration to keep excelling by watching young players, such as LPGA pro Jessica Korda, who plays often at Longboat Key.
"Deep down, [winning 200 tournaments] would be my ultimate goal if I can live long enough. But it all depends on my health."
Acute Type 1 diabetes has slowed McKitrick, a 2.6-handicap, once robbing her of her eyesight following surgery in 1989. She monitors her blood sugar on the course, and said she doesn't have it under full control.
Diabetes, though, isn't the only obstacle McKitrick has had to overcome. She is no longer a member at TPC Prestancia after a group of members approached her in the parking lot after winning their title. She found her putter smashed and broken after beating an opponent.
Then just this past weekend, McKitrick said members at Longboat Key boycotted the women's championship. Out of 24 women signed up to play, only a handful played.
"Let's just say, the hardest part about winning is the winning," said McKitrick, who declined to divulge her margin of victory this weekend, but said she shot a 76 to win in the rain-shortened event. "The repercussions and the jealousy you have to deal with, the more victorious you are, it really becomes hard to handle. You have to develop a thick skin."
She added: "I try to remove myself from negative people. They are like energy vampires they can suck the life force right out of you. I have had to deal with tremendous jealousy because of my success."
Although she has plenty of other interests, McKitrick has a never-ending passion for golf, and she's won 96 percent of her tournaments. That doesn't even include the estimated 200 she's won paired with her avid-golfer husband.
She's anxiously awaiting the delivery of a TaylorMade RocketBallz driver and fairway wood, and she's incorporated a new way to read putting greens by using her feet to determine the slope.
Point is, don't expect McKitrick to slow down any time soon. She's scheduled to play in six more tournaments in 2012, and of course, she plans to win them all. "I feel that I was blessed with a gift and I don't want to waste it. I just want to be the best I can be."
-- Stephen Hennessey
Our Club Championship Honor Roll:
Most lifetime, Male, Same Club
34, Bernard Charles Cusack, at Narembeen GC, Western Australia
Most lifetime, Female, Same Club
44, Pat Hatfield, at Roselle G.C., New Jersey
Most lifetime, Male, Multiple Clubs
47, Dr. Raymond Lebel, of Falmouth, Maine, five clubs
81, Arthur Lefelar, at Island CC, Marco Island, Fla., in 1995
90, Betty Fraseur, Tipton, Iowa, at Sunset Women's GC, St. Petersburg, Fla., 1988
Most consecutive, male
33, Bernard Charles Cusack, at Narembeen GC, Western Australia
Longest span, male
60 years, Neil White, of Green Valley, Ariz., in 1927 at White Lakes G.Cse. in Topeka, Kan., to Desert Hills GC in Arizona in 1987.
Longest span, female
54, Elaine (Harris-Woodward) Setapen, at Shorehaven GC, Norwalk, Conn., from 1938-1992
4 members, same year: In 1967, at Fox Hills GC, Paragould, Ark., John DeBons, 17, won the men's title, sister Kathy DeBons, 16, brother Mike DeBons, 14, won the junior titles and mother Frances won the A-Flight women's title. In 1994, at Towson G&CC in Phoenix, Md., Joseph Soliman won the seniors, his son Jack won the men's, daughter Pam won the women's and son Michael won the junior.
*--Cliff Schrock *