U.S. SENIOR WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Surf Mom Schremmer Riding A Wave of Fun This Week
September 27, 2015 | NASHVILLE, TENN.
By Lisa D. Mickey
Patty Schremmer is the young pup at this week’s 54th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship. She turned 50 on September 8, making her age-eligible by two and a half weeks.
But it wasn’t until she played a friendly round of golf with some Champions Tour pros in her new hometown of Honolulu, Hawaii, a few years ago that it even occurred to her to be here in the first place.
“At the time, I was only playing golf about once a month and one of the guys asked why I wasn’t playing more?” said Schremmer, who competed as a pro from 1989 to 2006. “I told him there really weren’t any tournaments to play and that I wasn’t good enough to compete against the pros anymore.”
The male touring pro encouraged Schremmer to apply for her amateur status reinstatement, and told her about the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur.
“I didn’t even know this tournament existed,” admitted Schremmer. “So I applied with the USGA and was reinstated as an amateur in September 2014.”
That step gave Schremmer a reason to practice and enter sectional qualifying for the championship. And as a wife to an emergency-room physician and the mother of three active daughters, it also made her maximize whatever practice time she could carve out for herself.
“I had a little baby and my mom was in palliative care, so golf was like my therapy,” she said. “I’d hit balls between my mom’s chemotherapy treatments, but I was not competitive. I just didn’t have the time.”
It was quite a change from Schremmer’s previous life competing on professional tours in the United States, Europe, Asia and later on the LPGA Tour. She had just married in 1997 and was thinking about leaving professional golf until a 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole of Q- School made her fully exempt for the LPGA Tour’s 1998 season.
“It was exciting, but that season ended up being terrible,” she said. “I was already 33, so I was older out there.”
Schremmer’s priorities changed as her family expanded and when she and her husband packed up their belongings to move from Florida to Hawaii. The golf professional quickly fell into a brand-new role as her kids embraced Hawaii’s surfing culture.
“We moved when the girls were 3, 8 and 9, and because they were always in the water having grown up in Florida, they really took to surfing,” she added.
Her girls, Mason (15), Lola (13) and Scarlett (8), began spending time on the beaches with older surfers who taught the East-Coast kids how to ride the waves of Hawaii. They took surfing lessons and gained confidence from surfing with the more experienced kids.
Now, Schremmer is a bona-fide “surf mom” whose daughters compete in longboard, shortboard and stand-up paddleboarding events in their respective age groups around the world. Mason won the National Scholastic Surfing Association National Championship in girls under-18 longboard and girls under-18 stand-up paddleboard wave riding, and Lola finished second in one of the events behind her sister.
“They have a lot of grit and I think they feed off each other,” said Schremmer. “Often, it’s luck of the waves, but surfing is their passion like golf was my passion. If they enjoy surfing as much as I’ve enjoyed golf, and if they are rewarded by what they are doing as much as golf has rewarded me, that makes me happy.”
Schremmer has found numerous parallels with her golf career and her daughters’ surfing. There have been tough courses and big tournaments in golf, while her daughters sometimes face angry seas and giant swells.
“Sometimes it’s scary watching them, but they’ve had a lot of coaching and they’re pretty cautious,” she said. “They do surf the North Shore [of Oahu], but only the 10-12 foot [swells]. They impress and surprise me all the time.”
Ironically, Schremmer’s former sponsor from professional golf – musician Jimmy Buffett, using his Margaritaville brand – now supports her kids’ travel expenses to surfing competitions around the world. One of her daughters has competed in Brazil and Dubai, so sponsorship money helped make those trips possible.
“He’s been a friend for a long time and it’s kind of a segue from my time as a golf pro to their experience as competitive surfers,” said Schremmer. “He’s in Hawaii quite a bit, so my girls are Jimmy’s surf buddies.”
Schremmer has taught her daughters how to play golf, but none of them have embraced the sport. They did, however, surprise their mom on Mother’s Day this year by suggesting they go play golf together.
“We played about three holes, but then I took them surfing because I wasn’t going to torture them all day,” Schremmer said. “They played golf with me as a gift, which was very thoughtful.”
Her daughters were excited when their mom qualified for this week’s championship.
“They’re texting me and they made little pictures and hid them in my luggage with the words, ‘Go fight and beat them all, Mom!’” said Schremmer.
A lot of old feelings have come flooding back for Schremmer this week on the golf course. She admits to feeling nervous and rusty. Her goal was to make the top 64 to advance into match play, which she will do after rounds of 81-77 for a two-day total of 158.
“I’ve felt some really anxious moments that I haven’t felt in a long time, but it kind of makes me feel alive again,” said Schremmer. “Playing golf is such a luxury now. I probably didn’t appreciate it enough when I played all the time, but now, when I get little snippets of time to play, I eat it up.”
Schremmer laughs at being called a “rookie” as the youngest player in the field this week. Like many of her peers, she battles tendonitis and has consumed her fair share of Motrin this week.
But it’s a new page for the surf mom. Her priority is still helping her kids achieve their goals in their chosen sport, but now with her amateur status intact, Schremmer hopes to rekindle her love of the game at a different stage in her life.
“I’ve been out of this environment for a long time, so it’s refreshing to come back and feel the things I’ve felt this week.”
And just like those big waves that sometimes knock her kids off their boards, Schremmer knows it takes time to feel comfortable under pressure. Gnarly waves and high numbers will happen, but this week has reminded her that the real reward is just being in the game.