Golfer finds joy in friends, links atmosphere

Mike Tupa

By Mike Tupa

Perhaps, Mandy Stewart has got it right.

The Bartlesville native doesn’t play golf because she believes she’s the top news on the course.

And, while she has achieved some notable feats — including a pair of aces and a second play in a Women’s Oklahoma Golf Association tournament — her motivation is pure.

She loves the game.

She enjoys the companionship of friends on the course.

And, the game keeps alive a passion that her husband — who passed away 11 years ago — first encouraged back in 1971.

In back, one year after her husband’s passing — and on their anniversary — she buried her first hole-in-one, on Aug. 14, 2006, in what “you could call ‘divine intervention,’” Stewart said.

Stewart dropped in her second ace on Sept. 24, 2009, also at Adams Municipal Golf Course.

“Both were witnessed by Gary and my dear friends Nancy and Doyle Armstrong,” Armstrong explained.

A few years after Gary Stewart became one of the charter members at Adams, he began teaching Mandy the game.

But, it wasn’t until she felt challenged that her game climbed to a new level.

One of her co-workers asked her many years ago if she wanted to play in the Phillips 66 ladies golf league.

“She kept bugging me,” Stewart recalled. “I said something to Gary and he said, ‘That’s what you need to do is to play golf in a league.’”

Mandy accepted the gauntlet and honed her game.

“If somebody had told me then that I would enjoy it as much as I do now, I would have laughed at them,” she said.

That pleasure is enhanced by more than chasing the white ball.

Stewart said he enjoys watching the birds and squirrels, and the other sights, at the links.

“I also enjoy the companionship of everybody,” she continued. “I’ve made a lot of friends that otherwise I would not have known. Some of them have become very, very good friends.”

Not blessed with looming height, Stewart said she had to learn to master the finer parts of the game in order to compete.

“I’m vertically challenged,” she explained. “I can’t hit the ball as far as some of the women. … I had to learn to play my game.”

She points to putting as perhaps her top strength.

But — despite the career highlights mentioned earlier, plus an opportunity to play on the legendary Southern Hills course in Tulsa — Stewart still considers herself an “old regular hacker.”

In addition to whittling her way around the golf course, for 10 years Stewart also accompanied her husband on a several bicycle tours around the state.

“I’ve seen one end of Oklahoma to the other end of Oklahoma,” she explained. “I saw places I never would have seen.”

But, Bartlesville has always been home.

“I was born and raised (here),” she said. “My dad owned a gas station down by the old Seventh Street bridge. Both my parents were raised here. My husband was raised here.”

Stewart’s golf pursuits also have been intertwined with history.

She has been links friends for years with Sue Ellen Layton and found out that her aunt and Layton’s mother worked together in the Phillips keypunch department.

“I didn’t know that until we started playing golf together,” Stewart added.