No golfer in our town has a better resume than 51-year-old Ellen Port. No one. Port has won 12 Metropolitans, seven Missouri Amateurs and five national tourneys, including four U.S. Mid Amateurs. Not bad for a woman who played exactly one year of high school golf and no golf at all in college.
Port really didn’t start practicing until she was 24. In fact, to this day, this John Burroughs teacher and coach, wife and mother of two doesn’t spend a whole lot of time pounding balls at the range. Port worked at it to hone that swing, and she got a great deal of encouragement from nationally acclaimed teacher, Hank Haney. Nobody in golf is really a natural, but there are some rounds where Port just tames the course and everybody is helpless and in awe.
When she catches fire, look out. Essex Country Club in Massachusetts was where Port won her first Mid- Amateur in 1995. In the semifinals, she opened up with five birdies and an eagle. A year later in Palm Desert, Calif., Port won again when she was four months pregnant with son Drew. Four years after that, Port, who had just given birth to Katie, won for the third time. Last summer, she broke the record for the longest span between Mid-Amateur wins, when she captured her fourth title in Virginia Beach.
On Jan. 29, this proud Gladstone, Missouri-born athlete received the ultimate honor: Port was enshrined into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A HALL OF FAMER? It’s a very nice honor. It means so much because it means I have had a successful career. It means perseverance.
BEST SCORE EVER FOR 18 HOLES? 68 in qualifying for the Broadmoor and a 66 in a less-formal competition.
WORST SCORE EVER? My very first U.S. Amateur—it was an 89 at Pinehurst.
HOW MANY HOLES IN ONE? Zero.
MOST FAMOUS PERSON YOU HAVE PLAYED WITH IN A FOURSOME? Mark O’Meara.
BIGGEST BLUNDER? There have been two of them: I signed the wrong score and got disqualified, and another time, I simply forgot to put my ball mark back— really embarassing.
HOW MANY MONTHS DO YOU GO WITHOUT PRACTICING? Usually three or four: November, December, January and February.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU GET THE LORD INVOLVED IN YOUR ROUND? Every round. He is with me every round. I bring him to every tourney. I approach every round with an attitude of gratitude.
THE IRONS AND BALLS YOU USE? Callaway forged X-series and Bridgestone balls.
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE CADDY? My husband, Andy.
FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS:
- Did you think a year ago, that our three professional coaches would be Ken Hitchcock (who was retired), Mike Matheny (who was coaching 13-year-olds in Chesterfield) and Jeff Fisher (who was on his ranch in Montana)?
- Are there any former boxers in their 60s with their full faculties nowadays? Do any of them ever retire and live happily ever after with a white-picket fence? Google ‘boxers’ and ‘dementia’ and look at the list.
- Does it make me a bad person if I am rooting for Albert Pujols to hit just 20 homeruns this season?
- I don’t know what is better in life: a Sam Cavato suit or plate of the Seafood Risotto from Bartolino’s.
- A line to remember: “If you marry for money, you are going to earn penny of it.”
Frank Cusumano is a 14-time Emmy Award winner on KSDK-TV, and he also can be heard on 590 KFNS Radio.