Noah: Hello! Welcome to USADSF Spotlight with Noah. I am Noah Valencia. Today, we will interview Susan Zupnik. She is one of an incredible deaf women golfer in the United States of America. She is one of three pioneers who pushed and encouraged the world to establish deaf women's golf tournaments. So I am very honored to interview her today.
Noah: How did you first find your passion for golfing?
Susan: Well, my dad was the one who taught me golf when I was 10 years old. I was young and I grew up learning. My father was a good golfer so he had a great influence on me learning the sport.
Noah: Since you were 10 years old?
Susan: Yes, 10! I fell in love with it. But I fell in love with more after I graduated from college. It was tough to find time for golfing while in school.
Noah: Yes, that is understandable, so once you started to find your passion and that was it?
Susan: Yes! Wow!
Noah: That was a long time!
Susan: Yeah! I have been playing golf for over 50 years.
Noah: 50 years?! WOW!
Noah: Your experience relating to golf is truly on another level! This is related to the next question, what was your best memory or the best shot you ever made with golf?
Susan: Well, if you’re speaking in terms of tournaments, I travelled all over the world playing World Deaf Golf Championships and United States Deaf Golf Championships. My best memory was in 2015, no, it was 2017, at Kansas City during the Championships, I made a hole in one! That was my first time ever.
Susan: It was during the tournament so I had more pressure so it was inspiring. Finally! That was my best memory.
Noah: It took you almost 50 years to finally score a hole in one.
Noah: Wow. That shows how tough it is!
Susan: Oh yes!
Image: Susan strikes the ball during the 2015 US Deaf Golf Championship in Maryland. She is wearing a gray hat while using white shirt along with gray shorts held by black belt on her hips. She is wearing white shoes and is swinging. Next to Susan stands a white golfing cart
Noah: How many years did you play for the U.S. Deaf Golf Federation? It was founded in 1980 and to now, how many years have you participated in it ever since?
Susan: Right. Well, it was originally called National Deaf Golf Association at first. It was founded in 1980 and rest is history. I joined in 1991, no, it was 1992. Really, I was pulled in by Jim Hines from Maryland, who now lives here in Florida. Yes, he was the one who pulled me in.
Noah: He pulled you in and you remained in ever since?
Susan: Yes. Ever since!
Noah: 1992 to today?
Susan: Yes, ever since to this day. I have never missed any events.
Noah: And it’s 2020 now, which means it has been 28 years.
Susan: Yes. 1992 to now. Wow.
Noah: That shows how passionate you are for this sport.
Image: Susan swinging with a blue hat that says “USA” and is wearing glasses. She is dressed in black adidas jacket
Noah: It was not until 2000 that three deaf women proposed to the World Deaf Golf Federation to create separate championships for women without men in their games.
Noah: Those three women played an important part in this milestone and you were one of three women, correct?
Susan: Yes, you are right.
Noah: How did that happen?
Susan: Really, it was Jim Hines who pulled me in and he told me to come with him to South Africa to try to join the World Deaf Golf Federation Board so I was just there to make a proposal to take place in two years. So I was fine with that and I went and met two women. We discussed and agreed to make this proposal but decided not to make it a totally separate championship due to the challenges of creating separate championships for women at a different time so we merged our championships with men’s. It was a separate championship that was run together. And it worked! It was founded in 2002 in Ireland.
Noah: Now, how many women compete?
Susan: On an average, about 20 women on an elite level.
Noah: That is tough. The top level of the playing field.
Susan: That’s right.
Image: Susan is in a green shirt and black shorts and smiles as she receives an award from a white man in a blue polo and khaki shorts. People stand behind them and cheer as Susan receives an award.
Noah: It has come to my realization that you were one of the first women to become a board member for the World Deaf Golf Federation.
Susan: Yes. WDGF.
Noah: How did you feel when you became a board member?
Susan: I was honored to be involved in that group. At the beginning, it was a challenging experience but as the time went on, I started to be comfortable and share ideas. As a result, we were the first group that created the WDGF (World Deaf Golf Federation) flag. I was one of the people who was involved in formation of the flag. It looked great! My term ended 6 years then I decided to give younger people a chance. It was a good experience, yes.
Noah: What a huge honor to be the first woman to be on board.
Noah: With your lengthy experience of over 50 years golfing, do you have any advice for our young golfers.
Susan: My favorite quote for golf is: “It is a tough sport, every shot is always different.” It is never the same. It is not like bowling where you can bowl on the same lane with a curve. Golfing is a challenge where you have to challenge the weather, terrains, rain, sun, heat, and cold. My advice to those young golfers, “Be patient and don’t give up. Focus. Watch the ball and hit it”.
Noah: So easy to give up when struggling, you know? Don’t quit!
Susan: Patience is the key and practicing, too.
Noah: Practice makes perfect.
Susan: It becomes perfect, yes.
Image: Susan in black short sleeve and khakis swinging.
Noah: Do you have any last remarks or comments that you would like to add?
Susan: For those of you who want to play for the United States Deaf Golf Championships, come to Austin, Texas in the next two year during the second week of June.
Noah: I hope I can join someday. I need to get started somewhere.
Susan: Yes, do come!
Noah: Wow! Thank you, Susan, for breaking down barriers for great achievements for Deaf women golfers. I want to thank Susan for her time.
Until then, so long.