Lancy Smith was born, raised and lived her life in western New York. She played competitive amateur golf at the highest level, winning the New York State championship on three occasions, and the senior championship on four others. Miss Smith represented the USA on five occasions as a member of her country’s Curtis Cup side (1972, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1984.) On all five occasions, the USA emerged triumphant over its respected opponents from Great Britain and Ireland. In 1994, at the Honors Club in Tennessee, Miss Smith was honored to represent the USA as the non-playing Captain of Team USA. Lancy Smith is a member of the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and was inducted in 2015 into the New York State Golf Association Hall of Fame. In February of this year, the Buffalo News wrote a piece on Miss Smith, ranking her the number two female western New York athlete of all time. Recently, Miss Smith took time from her day to answer a spate of questions from BuffaloGolfer, about her life in golf. For those unfamiliar with her career and successes, pull up a chair and have a read.
1. Tell us about the beginning of your experience with golf. How did you get started?
I got started playing golf because my father and 2 brothers and twin sister all played.
2. Did you play at a specific club/course growing up? How did that club/course shape your game?
My father was a member of the Park country club. That is where we all learned to play golf.
3. How did you get into tournament golf and what was that like at the beginning?
I got into tournament golf because of Lois Ward my 9th grade gym teacher. She was a member of Park Club and she and Nancy Rutte,r another member, talked me into playing in the NYS women’s amateur when I was 15 years old. I had such a good experience there that I couldn’t wait to play again.
4. Did you play high school or college golf? If so, can you describe those experiences?
No I didn’t play high school or college golf.
5. You played highly-competitive amateur golf for a number of years. What was the allure of that level of play?
I came from a family that loved sports and the outdoors. I grew up competing with my brothers in about everything we did. Playing competitive amateur golf was very inviting and exciting for me. I always wanted to compare myself to the best in what ever I competed in.
6. You had the distinct honor of representing the USA as a player and as a captain of the Curtis Cup team. Give us an idea of the prestige of playing for the Red, White and Blue.
I think that representing the United States in a Curtis Cup Match is the honor of a lifetime for an amateur golfer. Representing your country when your flag goes up and the national anthem is played sends chills up your spine.
7. Let’s talk about your shot-making for a bit. What were your strengths and weaknesses and how did you adjust your game for them?
I think my competitiveness and the ability to stay cool under pressure were the strengths of my game. I’ve always thought that it isn’t the quality of the good shots that matter as much as the quality of the bad shots that make the difference. I was never the greatest putter who made lots of long putts, but under pressure I never missed many of the short putts either. My temperament is one of optimism and that is always a help when your are competing.
8. What type of golf course (fast and firm, lush and green) appeals to you and why? What would be some examples of that type course for you?
I like them both. I think golf needs both. Links courses should be firm and fast. That’s the challenge to them. Parkland courses as they call green ones in England should be green and lush. They also call for certain types of shots. I think where things get mixed up is when they try to make a link course lush and and vice-versa with a lush course. I’ve played both types of courses and enjoyed them both.
9. What question haven’t we asked, that you wish we would have? Ask it and then answer it, please.
If you asked me what advice I would give someone it would be: Don’t take yourself too seriously. Remember golf is a game and as my father told me when it stops being fun it’s time to stop playing.