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Kelli Anderson
November 12, 1990
When Kathy Kahan takes up a game, watch out
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November 12, 1990

Meet A Most Sporting Mom

When Kathy Kahan takes up a game, watch out

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After finishing at Bennett, she got a degree in commercial design from the �cole des Beaux Arts in Aix-en-Provence, France. Kahan then returned to the U.S. and worked for Bob Levy, a U.S. Tennis Association tournament sponsor. In 1976 Levy sponsored the girls' 18-and-under indoor nationals. While the players were in town, he and Kahan organized a mixed-doubles social with some of the top male players from colleges in the area. During the event she met her future husband, Jeff, then a troubleshooter for a linen company and a volunteer coach at Haverford College, when he stormed up to her to gripe about being paired in doubles with a then barely known 13-year-old in braces, pigtails and a pinafore—one Tracy Austin.

Kathy and Jeff were married two years later, and in 1980 they moved to the Orlando suburb of Maitland after Jeff, who is in the uniform-rental business, was transferred. Between writing her cookbook and raising two toddlers, Kahan found time for golf. She didn't take the game seriously until four years ago. "I got good results in a short period of time," says Kahan, who had a 12 handicap after three years and today is whittling away at a one. "Then it became a challenge to see how far I could go."

In 1988 she went all the way to the U.S. Women's Open at Five Farms in Baltimore after surviving a four-hole sudden-death playoff at a qualifier in Apopka, Fla. She missed the 36-hole cut because, in her first encounter with fast, bent-grass greens, she putted poorly. "Golf is the most difficult and most pleasurable sport I've been involved with," Kahan says. "And it's the only sport I've tried that can make me a nervous wreck. Still, I want to get to a higher level. I feel I never reached my potential in other sports; I just sort of burned out on them. In golf, I want to be the best I can be."

True to form, Kahan is already on familiar terms with some of the legendary names in her latest sport. In 1989, she made her only hole in one, on the 175-yard par-3 5th hole at Shady Oaks Country Club, in Fort Worth. That's Ben Hogan's club, and Hogan happened to be there on the day Kahan got the ace. Her scorecard with his signature is one of her most cherished possessions.

Lack of tournament experience is the only thing holding Kahan back, according to Phil Ritson, a golf instructor in Lake Mary, Fla. Ritson, 60, who says he has given well over 120,000 golf lessons, including several to J.C. Snead and Gary Player, has coached Kahan off and on for 2� years, and he sees her making the Curtis Cup team, a group of eight woman amateurs who represent the U.S. against Great Britain every other year. "She's that good," he says. "She hits the ball as well as anyone and has the talent to be a first-rate amateur. She just hasn't been at it for very long. What's keeping Kathy from the top of amateur golf is the time she spends doing other things."

Like two or three hours a day chauffeuring sons Christopher, 9, and Devin, 7, to their athletic activities. In addition, from April to September, she teaches swimming in her backyard pool 20 hours a week. And Kahan still loves to cook, a distraction Ritson finds doubly aggravating because she regularly brings him fattening homemade goodies, and he's trying to lose weight. "Oh, yes," he says with mild regret, "she's a great cook, too."

So what's left for Kahan? The Pillsbury Bake-Off?

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