SAN MARTIN, Calif. – Carolyn Creekmore met George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States, at a Dallas country club shortly after he left office. Their meeting led to a few rounds of golf, but after he told her about his 2012 trip to Africa, she soon was intrigued about a cause dear to him.
“I was just amazed at what good they could do,” said Creekmore, about Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon (PRRR), an initiative to make progress in the early detection and treatment of cervical and breast cancer in the developing world.
At the invitation of the Bush Institute’s Global Health program, Creekmore joined a group of eight volunteers in Zambia last June. Dr. Eric Bing, the Institute’s senior fellow and director, led the mission to renovate a health clinic and improve access to care and prevention.
Creekmore was joined by three Southern Methodist University students, Dallas building contractor Manasseh Durkin and others on the arduous trip. The goal was to prepare, in less than five days, the Mosi-Oa-Tunya health center, in Livingstone, Zambia, so that Bush and his wife, Laura, could complete renovations and open the clinic the following week.
“We will never get this done in time,” said Creekmore as she looked at a disheveled four-wall building with a courtyard in the middle. “I just knew that it was going to take a lot of time and lot of work.”
The main task was to paint the clinic’s tin roof. There were four Americans and two or three Zambians available to take on the job. But it wasn’t until Durkin came up with a way to cut the “thick” paint used that the work force was able to effectively brush it on the roof.
After two full days of painting the exterior in the 85-degree Zambian winter, the group scraped and power-washed the inside of the structure. The SMU students worked during the day, while Creekmore, Durkin and Pam Jackson, who annually organizes the Bush Institute’s Warrior 100K Bike Ride, returned after dinner each night. The partitions were finally placed in the testing rooms.
“We were all on the same mission,” Creekmore said. “It was an amazing symphony of movement. We worked seamlessly. We all just worked until we got it done.”
More than 40,000 women have been screened over the last 18 months via Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, a five-year, $85 million campaign that is assisting the public health infrastructure established through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon aims to make screening and treatment more widely available, in part by using inexpensive ingredients such as household vinegar and liquid nitrogen.
Creekmore and the volunteers visited a self-contained village with a school and a hospital in the rural plains. There they handed out baseball caps, T-shirts and soccer balls to an appreciative group of Zambians, who cook over open fires and live in mud huts with no electricity.
“What we have versus what they have is startling,” Creekmore said. “It’s like they have nothing. Seeing how happy they are with nothing, it causes you to step back a little.”
Creekmore’s attention this week is on the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur, a championship she won in 2004. And later this month, she will serve as tournament director of the Bush Center’s Warrior Open, a 36-hole tournament that honors U.S. service members wounded in the global war on terror. But Creekmore would like to eventually return to Zambia and hopes her volunteer group’s efforts will encourage others to get involved.
“I am in love with that country,” she said. “[Before I went,] I truly had no feeling about it except that it was far away, it sounded cool, and they have great animals.”
Pamela Kuong Breaks Through in Match Play
Pamela Kuong, 52, of Wellesley Hills, Mass., was convinced to start playing golf in her mid-30s by work associates at Bank of America, where she is a senior vice president for commercial lending. That advice led to a competitive amateur career.
She joined Charles River Country Club and entered the 2007 Women’s Golf Association of Massachusetts (WGAM) State Amateur, where she was the co-medalist in her first event. Club members and state golf association officials offered their support and her learning curve increased dramatically.
Kuong broke through in a big way on Monday in the first round of match play at the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur when she defeated World Golf Hall of Famer Carol Semple Thompson, 2 and 1. Kuong had failed to qualify for Senior Women’s Amateur match play in 2011 and lost her first match last year.
“She absolutely is a legend,” said Kuong, who was chosen the 2012 Player of the Year by the WGAM. “I usually don’t get nervous. I was amazed how calm I was, even though going up against someone of her stature.”
Kuong, a three-time New England Senior Women’s Amateur champion, has played in five U.S. Mid-Amateurs and represented her state at last week’s USGA Women’s State Team Championship.
“The more USGA events I play, you just get more comfortable and you figure things out,” Kuong said.
Malick Gets Better With Age
Jewell Malick, 64, of Rockwall, Texas, did not starting playing golf until age 50. She attributes making match play for the first time in four tries at the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur Championship to better putting and keeping the driver in play.
“I am really happy to have made it this far,” said Malick, who plays on a regular basis with the Ladies Amateur Golf Association, a group in north Texas. “I get a playing lesson every week with people that are better than I am. It’s little steps.”
Malick, who was a three-sport athlete at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pa., and is a member of the school’s athletic hall of fame, spent six years in the U.S. Navy as doctor following college and rose to the rank of commander. She remains a captain in the U.S. Navy Reserve and was activated for Desert Storm, working on a surgical support team in Bahrain.
Malick would go on to chair the OB/GYN Department of Kirksville (Mo.) College of Osteopathic Medicine and has been the chief of staff at Lake Point Medical Center in Dallas. Malick, who has served as president of the American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians & Gynecologists, established Rockwall’s The OB-GYN Place in 1995.
In 2007, Malick was Anna Schultz’s caddie when Schultz won the Senior Women’s Amateur.
Seven USGA Senior Women’s Amateur champions qualified for match play: Carolyn Creekmore (2004), Terri Frohnmayer (2011), Mina Hardin (2010), Sherry Herman (2009), Ellen Port (2012), Anna Schultz (2007) and Carol Semple Thompson (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002) … Carol Semple Thompson led a group of 13 USGA champions who advanced to the match-play bracket … Japan’s Akemi Khaiat is the third international player to earn stroke-play medalist honors and is one of six foreign-born players who qualified for match play … Hardin, the No. 2 seed in the bracket, is one of 31 players to reach match play for the second consecutive year … Taffy Brower, 68, of Boynton Beach, Fla., kept her streak alive by advancing to match play in every year she has played since the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur Championship changed from an all stroke-play event in 1997 … Brower, who did not play in the championship in 2003, has advanced to the Senior Women’s Amateur quarterfinals twice.
Brian DePasquale is a manager of championship communications for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.