Golfing Magazine recently spoke with Cheryl Brayman, one of the best lady golfers on Long Island, about her accomplishments in golf and the state of gender equality in todayís golf culture. GM: How long have you been at North Shore Country Club?
CB: Fourteen years. GM: During that time youíve won seven club championships. How did you get involved in the game of golf?
CB: I had been a tennis player and a skier, and there came a point where I couldnít run anymore because my knees hurt so badly. I stopped playing tennis, but I still needed that competitiveness of a sport, so I figured, ďGolf canít be too hard. You walk around the course, get a little exercise, and hit a ball.Ē I played for a year, mostly at Eisenhower and Bethpage, but I grew impatient waiting. There was no place to practice, and I really didnít know what I was doing. I really wanted to learn how to play, so I had a friend who belonged to North Shore. She took me out a couple of times, and before I knew it I was a member, too. GM: How long have you been playing?
CB: Iíve been playing seriously for about 14 years. GM: In the grand scheme of things, 14 years is not a lot of time. What did it take for you to get to a competitive level so that you were able to win club championships, sectional events, and WMGA events?
CB: It took about seven or eight years to become relatively competitive, and Iíve become really competitive in the last two or three years. GM: How often do you take lessons?
CB: All the time. When I joined here, an assistant professional named Sue Marino helped me out. I wanted to make sure I had a woman instructor, so that someone that was close to my size could help me. In my first lesson she told me to hit a couple of balls, and I did. She said, ďDo you want to work with what you have, or do you really want to learn how to play this game?Ē I said that I really wanted to learn; I was very eager. She took away all my clubs except my 7-iron, and I spent the next six weeks hitting nothing but 7-irons. I took one or two lessons a week, and then finally she said that it was time to work on other things. It was about two-and-a-half months before she let me out on the golf course. Iíve never looked back, and Iíve never taken a lesson from anybody else. Sue and I are good friends now, and sheís always there pushing and supporting and helping with my golf. GM: What are you working on to stay at such a competitive level?
CB: I hit the ball relatively well. My putting has always been a little weak, so Iím working on that. I had my Kirk Currie putter refitted, so thatís been better this year. I went from a short putter to a long putter and back to a short putter. Sometimes you have to change up to get a fresh perspective on things. GM: You also have some of the new TaylorMade r7 fairway woods in your bag. What impact have you seen technology have on your game in the past 14 years?
CB: I definitely hit the ball longer now. The big driver has helped tremendously. My swing is better, but I donít know if I would have achieved some of these things without the increase in technology. Recently Iíve been able to tailor my clubs to me. Iíve had my clubs properly fitted, and being 4í11Ē doesnít make it easy to find clubs and accessories that fit me. I still go out with the same perspective that I went out with when I was 25 years oldóto go out and play the sport and compete, and to win! GM: Youíve told me that you donít like to play golf much in the offseasonóyou like to ski. So youíre really not picking up the clubs for several months.
CB: I picked them up again just recently. In the offseason I need the rest. My back starts to hurt, so a few months off helps me, but when this time of year rolls around again, Iím ready for golf again. If I played all winter, I wouldnít have that eagerness. GM: You still manage to play a lot of golf, though. How many rounds did you play last year?
CB: I played about 35 competitive rounds, and I practice a lot. There are some days when I just grab a cart and go out on my own. GM: You had knee surgery this past winter. What were your thoughts or concerns about that?
CB: Itís hard to come back from an injury. Iíve torn my ACL, and I know what itís like to come back from that. Thereís a mental aspect of coming back from an injury that Iím going to have to deal with again. GM: Give me the womanís perspective of the private club experience.
CB: North Shore is unbelievable to women; there are very few restrictions. The guys are terrific to me, and so are the management and the Board of Directors. The other women get the same kind of respect here. Iíve heard stories about couples coming here from other clubs because the men donít let the women play there. I think women have a very hard time at some of the private clubs. GM: What is it like playing with the guys, especially with the caliber of your play when youíre hitting from the back tees with them?
CB: Itís fun. I love it. Most of the guys I havenít played with are interested to see what kind of game I bring, and the guys I play with a lot have a good time with me. The guys whom I havenít played with might get a little upset, or overswing, or theyíll have all the excuses ready. Itís fun, though, because it brings my game up. GM: What was 2006 like, and what are your plans for this season?
CB: I have to answer this question by starting with 2005. In 2005, I was the WMGA Player of the Year. I played very consistently the whole season and was totally overwhelmed that I won this award. There are a lot of great players in this section and I was humbled. I never expected to achieve this at my age. Last year, I finished fourth in the Player of the Year standings, and overall I had a good season. Although it wasnít as consistent as 2005, Iím looking forward to improving in 2007. There are some really nice events scheduled on some great golf courses.
GM: Thank you so much, Cheryl. I hope to see you out on the course in 2007. Cherylís Trophy Case 2005 WMGA Player of the Year 2005 WMGA Match Play Champion 7-time North Shore Club Champion 2006 L.I. Match Play Champion 2006 L.I. Stroke Play Champion LIGA Mixed Pinehurst Champion (with Marty Winkleman)