'Ironing board match' pits pro against insurance agent

Friday, September 27, 2002

In gentle gender battle, the female pro escapes without baking cookies

By Sam Blackwell ~ Southeast Missourian

Two weeks ago, Karen Stupples won more than $58,000 by finishing third at the LPGA Safeway Classic in Portland, Ore.

On Thursday at Dalhousie Golf Club, she won a day off from ironing clothes.

Golf club member Ken Swinford had challenged Stupples, who represents the Cape Girardeau course, to a match with unorthodox prizes. She would bake him chocolate chip cookies if he won, Swinford decided. Fine, Stupples said, you iron my clothes if you lose.

On tour, Stupples irons her own clothes and those of her manager/husband, even though she dislikes the chore.

The Ironing Board Match was on.

The Jackson insurance agent claims he was insulted when he noticed an ironing board set up in the pro shop before the match began. But Stupples brought a "Karen's Cookbook" prop.

Both played from the same tees, which put Stupples at a disadvantage. Swinford is nearly a foot taller and can drive a golf ball 30 yards farther than she can. But she almost always hits the ball in the fairway.

A gallery of Dalhousie members followed the match around the course. Updates were radioed into the clubhouse. It was close.

In match play, score is kept by how many holes a player wins outright. The players say the turning point came when Swinford missed a 3-foot putt on the 11th hole of the match. He eventually lost by two holes with one to play.

Regardless of the gender politics of the prizes, the Ironing Board Match was all fun and no grudge, they agreed.

"She's part of the family," Swinford says.

sblackwell@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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