Dana Ebster’s energy is infectious. Stand next to her long enough and you’ll find yourself instinctively smiling, invigorated by her jubilant positivity.
While her attitude certainly has something to do with playing in the U.S. Senior Women’s Open, a dream realized last week at Brooklawn Country Club, Ebster’s cheery disposition propels her through everything in her life. From teaching junior golfers at Turlock Golf and Country Club in California to working in the pro shop to even pulling golf carts for the membership, her enthusiasm is unflappable.
“Mostly I teach the junior academy, and then I work in the shop. I love it because I call that my time to just relax,” said Ebster. “I leave my house at 5:30 in the morning and get there at 6 and pull carts every morning. I just love golf.”
That love of the game is something that Ebster radiates. The men’s and women’s assistant golf coach at Modesto Junior College has soaked up everything she possibly could from her experience last week in Connecticut, including a berth into next year’s event. After a final-round, 2-over 74, Ebster literally bounced to the podium to meet the media, overjoyed with the news that she earned a spot in the field in Ohio.
“It was so much fun,” said Ebster. “I had great people to play with which made it nice and relaxing and I got to see a lot of old friends. Walking down that last hole and my marker turned to me and said, ‘Are you enjoying this?’ And I go, ‘Yes, I'm so bummed that it's going to end.’ It was so nice for my mom to be here and my family, my daughter, my son, my husband, and all my friends coming out. I'm so excited. I can't explain it. I'm on cloud nine.”
“It was so much fun. I had great people to play with which made it nice and relaxing and I got to see a lot of old friends."
Ebster spent her third and fourth rounds playing with amateur and seven-time USGA champion Ellen Port. The 59-year-old former Curtis Cup captain was more captivated by the magnitude of the moment, even getting emotional when discussing what it meant to be in contention in a major.
“The last few years I feel like I've struggled with consistency and finding the bottom of my swing, but I’ve just kind of been grinding my way through it with not a very good game,” said Port, who tied for low-amateur honors. “You never know it if it's going to all come together. I knew it was at some point; I didn't know if it would be this week. That gave me real peace.”
It was more party than peaceful playing with Ebster, who wasn’t afraid to bust a move or jump for joy after a made birdie putt around Brooklawn. With a ball marker in her ear – a trick learned from her junior golf days when her homemade skirts didn’t have pockets – Dana heads back to Turlock and back to work, something that many in the field last week don’t have to worry about. Top 10s in tournaments usually get you into the next week’s event, but that’s not the case for Ebster with duties to attend to back home.
“Jeremy, who's our head pro, he called me (Saturday) night and left me a voicemail and said ‘Sorry, I put you on the schedule for Tuesday morning. We need you at 4:00 in the morning because we got a junior tournament.’ And I'm thinking, ‘Seriously?’ I go, ‘OK, I'll be there.’ And then he called me and he goes, ‘I'm just kidding.’ Oh, OK, great.”
Even with the promise of a workweek looming, Ebster will be riding the high from a dream-come-true performance through it, having one word to say about the chance to tee it up again next year at NCR Country Club in the fourth edition of the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.
With her wide smile, signature hoop earrings, and marker in her ear, keep an eye out for her competing. She’ll definitely be hard to miss.