Golf for the Ageless
It’s the only sport you can play throughout your entire life.
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Age: 10 Lives in: Scarsdale Home course: Scarsdale Golf Club
Just watching Solomon Thompson walk, you know he’s an athlete. He strolls loose-limbed and confident to the tee, swings with full abandon and no fear of failure, then grins as he watches the ball sail into the distance.
“I like hitting the ball really far,” Solomon says, “although I like to make putts, too.” The lad is ten years old and already an accomplished competitive golfer.
Most recently, Solomon won the 2009 US Kids Golf Hole In One Challenge at Forest Creek in Pinehurst, NC, by hitting a pitching wedge to within seven inches of the cup on the 109-yard hole. An even bigger thrill for him, though, was the hole in one he made while playing with his father, David, two years ago on the tough eleventh hole at Scarsdale Golf Club.
“In my room, I have a list of things I want to accomplish. I want to get onto the tour and win a major,” Solomon says. The boy picked up a club when he was two years old, encouraged by his parents and grandparents. Today, the Fox Meadow student plays football, baseball, basketball, and swims competitively, but says golf is his favorite sport.
His heroes include Sam Snead and Ben Hogan and, of course, another golfer who started swinging the club at the age of two, Tiger Woods. Solomon’s admiration of Tiger isn’t blind, however: “I like the way he works hard and always does his best on every shot. But I do not like the way he slams his clubs and curses when he hits a bad shot. I get very frustrated when I hit a bad shot too.”
Age: 22 Lives in: Ardsley Home course: GlenArbor Golf Club
“I’ve always dreamed about playing professional golf,” says lean and quiet-spoken Michael Quagliano. That’s exactly what he’s doing now. The Ardsley native made his professional debut in the Met Open at Ridgewood Country Club in 2009, then set his sights on Q School, the infamous three-stage test required of nearly every golfer who aspires to compete on the PGA Tour.
Quagliano came close, but didn’t quite make it to the big show this year. He was eliminated in stage one after missing the cut by a single stroke in the four-round event. He spent the winter on a mini-tour in Arizona and is planning to compete on the eGolf Tour (formerly the Tarheel Tour) and also hopes to gain entry to a handful of big tour events through sponsor exemptions and qualifying tournaments.
The near-miss at Q School didn’t discourage Quagliano. “Golf is what I do. I play, practice, and think about it all the time. It’s my job,” he says. “But I also remember that it’s a game so that it stays enjoyable and fun.”
His workday starts at 7 AM with a workout and doesn’t end until at least 5:30 PM after hours of practice. When he’s not playing, he says, “I struggle to find things to do because I want to be out there practicing.”
Dedication like that is what made Qualgiano an outstanding golfer at Ardsley High School who won the New York State High School championship in 2004. In 2007, he won the Westchester Golf Association Amateur championship. He was captain of the golf team at Duke University and a member of the Blue Devils team that won the ACC championship in 2005.
Quagliano was one of seven amateurs who qualified to play in the 2008 Open at Torrey Pines. One of these days, we shouldn’t be surprised to see him competing in the world’s toughest golf tournament as a professional.
Age: 40 Lives in: White Plains Home course: Anglebrook Golf Club
“You have your holes-in-one and your good rounds,” says 40-year-old Cathy Ronan, “but the best part of golf is the friendships you make.” Ronan has made plenty of friends on the course and even found her current job through a connection she made during her previous career as a club pro.
“I was a teaching pro at Bedford Golf and Tennis for eight years but decided it was time to do something else in life,” she explains. A member heard she was planning a career change and hired her as an associate at private equity firm Bedford Funding two years ago. Today Ronan belongs to Anglebrook Golf Club in Lincolndale, where she plays recreationally a couple of time a week and carries a 3.8 handicap index. “Anglebrook is tough!” she points out. “It’s a real hidden gem in Westchester golf.”
Ronan was introduced to the game at the age of ten by her father, a member at Rye Golf Club. She took to it immediately and eventually won six women’s championships at the club. Later, she played on the women’s mini-tours before she went to work as a club pro, first at Westchester Country Club then at Wykagyl. She also competed in the JAL/Big Apple Classic. She played field hockey and lacrosse in college and plays ice hockey these days during the winter months.
Ronan says she’s enjoying a less stressful brand of golf these days: “Everything used to always be about competition, but now it’s more recreational. I don’t need another trophy.”