Novices to champs: Doty, O'Connor win President's Cup titles

Long-time friends Dot Doty and Maura O’Connor both began playing golf in 2015.

Two years later they are both champions — of the same tournament.

Competing in the Ridgefield Ladies Golf Association President’s Cup event, Doty won the 18-hole division and O’Connor claimed the nine-hole division. The two-day, stroke-play tournament took place Aug. 8 and Aug. 15 at the Ridgefield Golf Course.

In the format, golfers posted a first-round net score and then scored on just the holes they improved on during the second round.

Doty finished with a net score of 57 to win the 18-hole division by three strokes over Beth Wagner, who was second on a match-of-cards tiebreaker. Doty had a net 64 in the opening round and then lowered her score on seven holes in the second round.

“Both rounds, my mindset was not to focus on the tournament, but just concentrate on hitting the ball well. Stay out of trouble,” said Doty. “The second round — where I had to improve in order to score on a hole — there were some occasions that I knew I had to take a chance on a harder hit drive or longer club to beat my first-round score for that hole. So that was a strategy that I used.”

In the nine-hole division, O’Connor finished with a net score of 31 to tie Nancy Amato for first place. O’Connor got the victory on a match-of-cards tiebreaker.

“I believe that I was in fourth place going into the second round and really did not think that I had a shot, so I was just enjoying myself and the company on the course that [second] day,” said O’Connor.

“I did take a lesson from (Ridgefield Golf Course golf director) Frank (Sergiovanni) on putting that week [between the two tournament rounds] and this helped to quiet my mind on the greens,” added O’Connor. “The putting instruction helped free me up to concentrate on distance to the cup rather than worrying about the line to the hole.”

Doty and O’Connor struck up a friendship after meeting through their sons, who attended the same two schools (Our Lady of Fatima in Wilton and St. Mary in Ridgefield).

“Dot and I started playing golf three seasons ago when I learned about Frank’s weekly group clinics and encouraged her to give it a try with me,” said O’Connor. “We both like to be active, and have tried different things, like crew, just for fun. We have also been cycling in Fairfield County together for years.

“I enjoy tennis, paddle, pickle(ball) and yoga and I thought that it would be a fun challenge to try something new. Little did I know at the time that the game has an addictive quality, which leaves a lot less time for all those other activities.”

“I was interested in golf for a while since my mother-in-law, Anne Doty, is a long-time golfer,” said Doty. “I just didn't have the time until spring 2015, when I decided to give it a try. I thought it was impossible to ever hit the ball straight. But I never thought of stopping.

“I love the depth of skill it takes to play well,” added Doty. “I am very interested in learning and developing my game. It’s a challenge and I like that.”

“The Ridgefield Ladies Golf Association is a diverse group of women … some of these women have been playing for over 30 years and there is a lot of history and comradery among the membership,” said O’Connor, who is now a board member. “All in all, golf is just one more excuse to enjoy being outside.”

Doty credits her spouse for playing a role in helping her improve one key area.

“I think my short game is my strongest,” she said. “That's a part of the game I can practice in the backyard. My husband keeps the lawn nicely mowed for my practice sessions.”