HARTFORD, Conn. – No one among the 132 starters in this week’s U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Golf Championship was happier and more thankful to be in Alaska than Lisa Fern-Boros.
On July 14, Fern-Boros underwent two hours of minimally invasive brain surgery at Mount Sinai Health System in Manhattan, N.Y., to try to determine why she had experienced discomfort for three years.
“We knew there was something wrong but didn’t know what it was,” said Fern-Boros, a retired engineer from Shelton. “All I knew is that I wasn’t feeling well for so long, so I went to see a specialist.”
Dr. Joshua Bederson, a professor and chairman of neurosurgery at Mount Sinai, supervised the operation in which a probe was put through Fern-Boros’ nose to the front of her skull and a hole was drilled between two optical nerves to her pituitary. The minimally invasive procedure helps a patient recover quickly from brain surgery without any side effects, and two days after the operation, Fern-Boros was released from one of the most renowned medical facilities in the world with a good prognosis from Dr. Bederson.
“I had a lot of help from friends on the trip to New York,” Fern-Boros said. “I’m not completely out of the woods, but I got the best of three possible outcomes. I only have inflammation, but I’m still awaiting complete results from a biopsy.”
Fern-Boros, 61, had three Zoom “visits” with Bederson and achieved her initial goal of playing in the Connecticut State Women’s Amateur Championship on July 6-7 at Tashua Knolls Golf Course in Trumbull. She shot 19-over-par 163 to tie for 12th and won the Super Senior Division but skipped the rescheduled Hartford Women’s Open to save her strength before a 10-hour flight on Wednesday from Newark, N.J., to Anchorage, Alaska.
Fern-Boros learned she would be making the 4,400-mile trip to the country’s 49th state via a letter that she received from the United States Golf Association on the last day of her hospital visit.
“I felt fortunate to get in the championship because I was only the second alternate in the qualifier in Syracuse,” she said.
Fern-Boros, who plays out of the Highland Golf Club in Shelton, was accompanied to Alaska by close friends and fellow Southern New England Women’s Golf Association competitors Jen Holland and Jo Rasmussen. Holland, a four-time winner of the Connecticut State Golf Association Liz Janangelo Caron Player of the Year Award from Lyman Orchards Golf Club in Middlefield, won her record 10th SNEWGA Individual Championship title on July 19. Rasmussen, from Tashua Knolls GC, tied for 15th in the State Women’s Amateur.
“It’s nice that the three of us went,” said Fern-Boros, who made her first visit to Alaska. “I don’t think I would have gone alone.”
Fern-Boros has a connection to Fairfield native Julius Boros, the greatest player in Connecticut golf history and a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame who won three major championships. Her deceased husband, Lance, was Julius’ nephew, and now she competed in her sixth USGA championship. The longtime member of the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame selection committee has played in one USGA Mid-Amateur, one Senior Amateur, the Senior Women’s Amateur and the now-defunct State Team Championship three times. She also has had numerous high finishes in the SNEWGA Championship, including a win in 2016, third in 2014 and 2017, fourth in 2019 and fifth in 2018.
And Fern-Boros’ goal this time? “Not finishing DFL,” she said. And what does DFL mean? “Dead*Last,” she said with a chuckle.
Though Fern-Boros accomplished that goal, she and her friends each missed the 36-hole cut for match play. But that will never erase the countless memories from playing in the first national championship in Alaska.
“My driver was non-conforming, and I volunteered it to be checked. I didn’t come all this way, including medical hurdles, to be DQ’d,” Fern-Boros said. “The pro shop altered it by one-half inch, and it’s in a ‘fixture’ to prove it is legal. I recreated a lie from my second shot on the 18th hole the second day. It was my ‘birch bark bogey.’ Bark isn’t coming home to Connecticut, but I had it long enough for a picture. It was kind of a bogey hole anyway with water adjacent to the green and magnetically attracted many ball, though none of mine.
“We watched Pam Kuong from Massachusetts in round one of match play, but unfortunately, she lost. Due to lost luggage that went to Croatia, she was wearing Jo Rasmussen’s rain jacket. I can honestly say we made new friends all week. Temple Mitchel from Massachusetts and Johanna Kung from Delaware were kindred spirits. We took a glacier cruise one day, and I have way more energy in the tank since the operation. At the players dinner, it’s customary for the past champion, Lara Tennent, to deliver a speech. Hers was based on the acronym ‘GRATEFUL’: Golf-Relationships-Alaska-Thank-you-Ellen Port-Family-USGA-Lucky.’
“I said to myself when I arrived that I was the most grateful golfer in the field. The past champion reaffirmed that for me and others. It’s all such a reminder that life is so short.”
Shelly Stouffer (Canada) beat Sue Wooster (Australia) 4 & 3 in the scheduled 18-holes finals match on Aug. 4 at Anchorage Golf Course, Anchorage, Alaska, to win the 60th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur.
PHOTOS: Complimentary Lisa Fern Boros