Share this article

print logo

State golf hall honoring Lancy Smith, a true titlist

Lancy Smith’s accomplishments in golf are so numerous, it’s understandable how one may be overlooked.

Smith’s career highlights as listed by the New York State Golf Association in her biography include her 15 Women’s Buffalo District Golf Association championships.

The number is actually 16, but the NYSGA can be forgiven for overlooking one. It’s easy to do when trying to tally up all that Smith has won.

That list made her an easy choice to be inducted to the NYSGA Hall of Fame, which will take place during a formal ceremony in October at the Country Club of Rochester.

“It’s a real honor to get into your state Hall of Fame,” said Smith, 67. “I still remember the first state title I ever won. I had such a good experience – the officials were so friendly and so nice. As a kid, if you go to something like that and they’re not like that, you might never play again. So I’m really grateful they gave me a good start.”

That’s an understatement. That first state championship, which came in the Women’s Amateur in 1966 at the age of 18, started a career that spanned four decades and made her the most accomplished female golfer in Western New York history.

Smith won seven NYSGA titles in all – three Women’s Amateurs (1966, ’69, ’79) and four Senior Women’s Amateurs (’98, ’99, 2001, ’02). In addition to her 16 WBDGA titles, she’s also a three-time champion of the Women’s Golf Association of Western New York – in 1970, ’71 and ’90.

But it’s her appearances on both the national and international stages that have largely defined Smith’s career. She played on five U.S. Curtis Cup teams (1972, ’78, ’80, ’82, ’84) and also captained the 1994 team.

She also appeared in 15 U.S. Women’s Opens, and made it as far as the semifinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur, losing to eventual 25-year LPGA Tour veteran Laura Baugh in the semifinals in 1971.

Smith, though, is the last person to tout her own accomplishments.

“I never played for the accolades,” she said. “I played to prove to myself how good a player I could become. That was all. I didn’t play so I could stand up on stage and say ‘look what I did.’ I wanted to compare myself to the best, and I had a chance to do that.”

A 1994 member of the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, Smith started playing at 8 years old, introduced to the game by her father, William Smith.

“It was a big part of our family life,” said Lancy Smith, whose two brothers and sister were also accomplished players. “Every day after my dad got home from work, we’d go play. It was our thing. My mother could even play some with us. She wasn’t much of a golfer, but she was fun to play with. She’d get you giggling so much you couldn’t hit.”

Smith took some early lessons with Jack Pritchard at Park Country Club. Pritchard also worked with Dr. John Konsek, who like Smith is one of this year’s inductees into the NYSGA Hall of Fame and is the most accomplished male amateur golfer ever from Buffalo.

From 1970 to 1984, Smith was ranked in the top 10 of U.S. women’s amateur players by Golf Digest 12 times, reaching No. 1 for a time in 1980.

As a player, she went 5-0 at the Curtis Cup, a biennial event featuring the top amateur players from the U.S. competing against a team from Great Britain and Ireland.

In two of those matches, Smith’s victories provided the winning points for the American team.

“Representing your country, that’s about as high as you can get in the game,” Smith said. “When you get to the first tee and they say, ‘Representing the United States of America … ’ there’s nothing like that. The atmosphere was electric. … Those are memories that I’ll always have.”

Smith, who lives in Amherst, maintains her membership at Park. She’s mostly just a casual player these days, playing about 18 holes a week. She has, however, played a little more in the last year after retiring from her job on the grounds crew at Transit Valley Country Club.

PGA makes stop up north

The PGA Tour makes its closest stop to Western New York this week with the RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey Golf Club just southwest of Toronto.

Despite not having its first turn hosting Canada’s national championship until 1977, this is the 27th time the tournament will be held at Glen Abbey. The course, which holds the distinction of being Jack Nicklaus’ first solo design, measures 7,253 yards.

The last time the tournament was held at Glen Abbey was in 2013. The man who won that year, Brandt Snedeker, withdrew from the field this week because of a hip injury.

There is, however, still a strong field despite the tournament’s spot on the calendar a week after a major championship overseas. A total of 15 players who made the cut at the Open Championship are scheduled to appear this week, including Australian Jason Day, who missed out on the playoff by one shot.

Other noteworthy names scheduled to play include Bubba Watson, No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking, as well as four more players in the top 17 (No. 7 Jim Furyk, No. 9 Day, No. 16 J.B. Holmes, No. 17 Matt Kuchar).

Information on how to obtain tickets is available at rbccanadianopen.com.

Chip-ins

• Cary Ignaczak of Derby won the Buffalo District Golf Association’s Junior Boys Stroke Play championship on Monday, shooting a round of 3-over 74 at Sheridan Park. Ignaczak, who plays out of Gowanda Country Club, finished with a three-round total of 7-over 220 after the opening two rounds were played last week at Deerwood. He finished three shots ahead of David Hanes (Crag Burn).

The Sub Junior Boys Stroke Play championship went to Anthony Delisanti, who plays out of Willowbrook. He finished with a three-round total of 12-over 229, one shot ahead of Ian Wagner and Luke Stanley.

• Michael O’Connor of the Kahkwa Club in Erie, Pa., overcame a one-shot deficit at the start of the day to win the Western New York PGA’s Professional Championship on Tuesday. O’Connor shot a round of 1-under 71 at Brookfield Country Club in Clarence and finished with a two-round total of even-par 144.

• Lewiston’s Michael Boss won the club championship over the weekend at Niagara Falls Country Club, and along with it, a spot in the field of this month’s Porter Cup.

email: jskurski@buffnews.com