Sylvia’s stunning golfing successes: From club to national championships

Seven-time Australian senior amateur champion Sylvia Donohoe tees off the last at Narooma Golf Club, where she was won a remarkable 14 straight club championships

By Dane Heverin, Golf Australia

It would be a challenging exercise to find a golfer in Australia who has more victories next to their name than Sylvia Donohoe.

This year, the Narooma Golf Club member claimed her fourteenth consecutive club championship at the club on New South Wales’ south coast and remarkably, it is just the latest addition to an extraordinary list of triumphs.

Donohoe’s list of club championships also includes an additional two – which she won as a teenager – at Narooma, four at The Australian Golf Club and a stint at Bonnie Doon Golf Club where she “held the club championship for ten years, but not consecutively”.

She is also a seven-time New South Wales senior champion, a six-time ACT senior champion and a seven-time Australian senior champion.

“I didn’t win any state titles until I was in the seniors,” Donohoe said.

She certainly cashed in once she won her maiden title.

Her golfing journey began in Narooma as a girl from a golfing family.

“I started out dragging the bag around for mum and saying ‘I want to have a hit, I want to have a hit’,” she said.

“I caught the eye of the club captain, he took me aside to help with my game and I took a liking to it.”

After developing her game during her teenage years in Narooma, Donohoe decided to commence adulthood by moving to Sydney to pursue her golf career.

“I had to support myself and I had to have a job – finding a job that let you play golf was pretty difficult,” she said.

She first worked at golf club design company Precision Golf Forging – well-known for its association with Australian golf icons including Peter Thomson and Greg Norman – and stayed for nine years before taking on a part-time role at New South Wales Golf Club for the next 27 years.

Her time in Sydney was a constant balancing act between golf and work.

She was a member at St Michael’s Golf Club for a few years, but never played in club championships there because work got in the way.

“I was classified as a business girl back then,” she said.

When work commitments allowed, she travelled all over Australia playing in amateur tournaments, while winning club tournaments back in Sydney.

“There were a lot of good amateur golfers back then, because they didn’t turn pro at a young age like they do now,” she said.

All her hard work resulted in a spot on the New South Wales team.

“I did that at the ripe old age of 39, when the young ones coming through were only 16,” she said.

“It was a big age gap and a bit of a learning curve for me to get in after all those years.”

In 2007, Donohoe – and her husband Graeme – moved back to Narooma and her golfing domination has been relentless since.

Sylvia Donohoe with her 7th Australian senior amateur title

In addition to her fourteen-peat of club championships, she set the course record at Narooma with a 67 and has won countless events up-and-down the New South Wales south coast.

“I’m in awe of what she has achieved,” Geoff Lanham, Narooma Golf Club President, said.

“She has won so much stuff in her time, while the rest of us are all happy when we get a par!”

To recognise her incredible milestones, the members room at Narooma is named the Sylvia Donohoe room.

Lanham is currently working on decorating the room with memorabilia showcasing her accomplishments.

“A lot of the members here wouldn’t realise how much she achieved,” he said.

“She’s very humble, but she knows what she’s achieved, and she deserves to be recognised.”

He is also expecting to be updating the memorabilia over the coming years.

“She still plays a very handy game of golf, so she’ll win more,” he said.

In recent times, Donohoe has overcome health problems and she has had to make adjustments to the mental side of her game.

“Sometimes I say ‘I’m playing like an old lady today’ and everyone looks at me because my mind still thinks I’m young,” she said with a laugh.

However, she still has more victories in her sights.

“I’m looking forward to trying to capture number fifteen,” she said.

Story Source: Dane Heverin, Golf Australia

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