Meet a familiar face in local golf and another we’ll be seeing much more of

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 9, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Mark Lambert is one of Suffolk’s longest-running fixtures in area golf; after 20 years as the head pro at the Suffolk Golf Course, he moved to the same position at the Nansemond River club in 1999, still the only pro the club’s ever had. On Tuesday afternoon, the golfing community of Stafford got a taste of his skills as well; Lambert teamed with Irvington’s Kenny Clark to take the Page and Tuttle MAPGA Senior-Junior Professional tournament at the Augustine Golf Course.

&uot;I play in a lot of Mid-Atlantic PGA events,&uot; said Lambert a 25-year member of the PGA (20 years as a member constitutes a &uot;life&uot; membership, and he became a senior member after turning 50 two years ago). &uot;I’ve only played that course once before, but I’d known Kenny for almost 20 years.&uot; Clark is the pro at the Golden Eagle Golf Club.

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&uot;We always seemed to match up,&uot; Lambert said of the partnership. &uot;We could always go back and forth. If one of us was in a hole, the other could help him out.&uot; They got into 18 holes quicker than any other squad; the pair shot a 64, two strokes lower than any other team.

&uot;I knew we were playing well, but I was surprised we won by two strokes,&uot; Lambert said. &uot;I thought we’d be in a playoff.&uot; Aside from showing his skills here in Suffolk, Lambert headed to Port St. Lucie, Fla., in January to take part in the PGA Senior Stroke Play Tournament. Next, he’ll go to Richmond to play in the State Open at the Willow Oaks Country Club.

Last Friday, Katie Murphy was teeing off at the ninth hole of the Suffolk Golf Course, practicing with the rest of the Nansemond-Suffolk Academy golf team. After teammates Andy Rivenbark and Warren Taylor teed off, the freshman Lady Saint cast a wary look toward the flag, which she rarely got near on this particular hole.

&uot;I normally hit the ball too long and to the right, into the trees,&uot; she admits. &uot;I hardly ever hit the green.&uot; That was about to change – in the biggest of ways.

Murphy yanked up her five iron, and lifted the ball over the lake just in front of the tee box. The ball bounced up the right side of the green and started to roll… that is, until it disappeared into the hole.

Rivenbark and Taylor started to cheer. Murphy dropped her club, and tried to believe that her eyes were telling the truth.

Maintaining her composure, she hurried to the green. Reaching the flag, she glanced down and saw the ball. Reaching down to grab it, she finally realized that what she’d seen was reality – she’d just become the first member of the NSA squad of the millennium to smoke a hole-in-one on the Suffolk course (teammate Lauren Doughtie has an ace as well, but it was on another area).

&uot;I didn’t feel the excitement until I reached into the hole,&uot; she said. &uot;Then it hit me!&uot; She leaped up, charged to the club house to call her mother, and blurted the news to her coach, teammates, and everyone else who was lucky enough to be a part of her own historic event.

&uot;I had to buy drinks for everyone who saw me,&uot; she said with a laugh.

It’s the perfect time of the season for her and her teammates to get just a little more confidence in their game – the Saints will attempt to bring home their second TCIS title in three years next weekend at the conference championships at Portsmouth’s Bide-A-Wee golf course.

But Murphy’s far from overconfident. &uot;It was just a shot that got a lucky bounce,&uot; she said. &uot;I don’t look at it any differently than any other hole. Even if you birdie a hole once, you might still bogey it next time.&uot;