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Kohlhaas hit with a flood of fond memories

Forty years ago, Jeannett Kohlhaas, then known as Jeannette Kerr, played in the Dick McGuire tournament in Albuquerque. GREG SORBER/JOURNAL FILE

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Jeannette Kohlhaas felt good to be playing golf again in Albuquerque last week in the National Senior Games.

The last time she played at UNM Championship Golf Club she was 21 years old and on the Arizona State University women’s golf team, competing in the Dick McGuire Invitational.

She was Jeannette Kerr when her photo appeared in the Albuquerque Journal in 1979. The photographer, Greg Sorber, captured her in a fascinating pose of her reacting to her birdie on the par-4 17th hole.

Kohlhaas, a 61-year-old from Aldie, Va., does not remember how she finished in that tournament, but she sure won’t forget what she accomplished in the National Senior Games.

She shot 19-over-par 235 to win the gold medal in the 60-64 age division on June 19.

Her final-round 75 featured a hole-in-one on the 125-yard, par-3 No. 11 with 9-iron.

“It was just fun to come back here in the National Senior Games,” said Kohlhaas, who visited the Journal offices last week and met Sorber. “Yes, I played here before. But I don’t remember as much. I remembered a few holes and putts. I sort of recognized the golf shop. The big, square building didn’t change much.”

Kohlhaas finished 16 strokes better than runner-up Susan Daniels of New Mexico.

New Mexico did have one champion across all men’s and women’s divisions, as Annette Sieben won the gold medal in the age 50-54 division, also at UNM Championship, finishing with a 261 (91-89-81).

“The Games are amazing,” Kohlhaas said. “The ladies are all so nice. So many of them have competed in the Games for so many years. The camaraderie is so fun. It’s just so fun to be around all these competitive people.”

Kohlhaas, now a realtor, rekindled memories while competing in the National Senior Games and reconnected with the competitive fire she showed back when she was a Sun Devil and after college.

After Arizona State, she played on the LPGA Tour from 1980-89.

Her hole-in-one last week was her third ace. She once drained a hole-in-one during an LPGA tournament. It came after a double-bogey when she angrily scrawled the word, “patience,” on her scorecard.

She still uses patience when she competes, and she said she simply plays one hole at a time.

“I have instant amnesia while playing golf,” she said. “I don’t remember putts. I forget about it and move on to the next hole. I don’t want to concentrate on my score.”

Kohlhaas came to Albuquerque with her husband, Bob. After she won the gold medal, they left for Chula Vista, Calif., to watch their son, Kris, compete in archery in his quest to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. Kris left his job as a professional ballroom dancer and instructor to focus on archery as he is just two years into the sport, Kohlhaas said.

Kohlhaas playfully teased her son that she won a gold medal before he did.

“We are a very competitive family,” she said.