In August, local golf legend Ellen Port put on quite a show in the final round of the Metropolitan Senior Amateur Championship – the Metropolitan Amateur Golf Association’s premier senior men’s championship – at Sunset Hills Country Club.
You can debate a lot of things about St. Louis, like which Rams player really was more valuable – Kurt or Marshall? However, there is no debate on who the greatest female golfer in the metro area is – and this summer is proof.
At the end of that round, Port became the first woman to win in the history of the tournament.
“I kept it simple,” Port says. “I found my target, and I tried to think…I was just here playing a game I love and a course I love. I woke up that morning and thought to myself, ‘I birdied every hole on this golf course. So why don’t you just go do it?’”
And she did. On the fourth playoff hole, Port made her fifth birdie for the championship. It capped off a scintillating round of 67. The birdie to win it was a difficult 20-footer.
She was giving up some yards off the tee box – but she gives up nothing when it comes to being competitive and resourceful. She doesn’t play a round of golf; she thinks a round of golf. People who have watched her for years swear they have never seen her make a mental mistake. Some may have been surprised by the outcome – Port was not.
“I go against one person, always,” she explains. “I didn’t play in this tournament to go against men. I went to get prepared for my women’s amateur events. You can’t just play practice casual events and show up at a national event. The only reason [I did it was] because there are not a whole lot of events for me to play in.”
Port has more hardware than Ace. She has played in eight United States Golf Association events and has won seven of them. She is also a 16-time Metropolitan Amateur Champion. In fact, a few days after she beat the men, Port went to Winghaven and shot 72 and 65 to win the Senior Missouri Amateurs.
She could be getting better with age. “I have more shots than I have ever had,” she says. “I continue to get better with my short game. I think I am playing the best golf I ever have. It’s because I matured as a player. I continue to learn.”
Port didn’t take up the sport until she was 25 years old. She played a semester of collegiate tennis at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She moved to St. Louis and didn’t know many people at first, and so she took up the game.
Today, her kids are grown, she has retired from her coaching and teaching jobs, and she has the time to once again focus on her love of golf.
“I’m always passionate about the game,” she says, “because I know I am living on borrowed time, like that old song. I think each day is precious … and I know this could be my last opportunity. So my passion-meter is way up there.”
Not many athletes peak at the age of 60, but then again, not many athletes are Ellen Port.
Frank Cusumano is a 17-time Emmy Award-winner on KSDK-TV; he also hosts The Pressbox on The All New 590 the Fan from 10 a.m. to noon each weekday and contributes to The Dave Glover Show on FM NewsTalk 97.1. Follow him on Twitter @frank_cusumano.
More With Ellen Port
At what other skill would you like to be great?
A Grandmaster pianist/singer.
What’s the worst score you ever posted in a tournament?
I am trained, like Jack Nicklaus, to never remember those rounds.
What would be your perfect foursome of golf?
Mickey Wright, Babe Zaharias, Kathy Whitworth and Patty Berg.
Do you ever have regrets about not turning professional?
No regrets. I have had the best of both worlds.
Do you ever feel guilty about beating your husband every time you play golf?
Nope, never feel guilty when I beat him. I’d only feel guilty if I let him win.