PETE DOUGHERTY Staff writer Turning professional isn't a recent whim in the golfing career of Betsy Drambour. Until this past weekend, she may have lacked the credentials and confidence to go forward.
Section: SPORTS,  Page: D3

Date: Tuesday, June 27, 1995

That all changed with her performance of the U.S. Women's Public Links Championship in Colt Neck, N.J.

Drambour, a Ballston Lake native, qualified third in the 32-woman bracket, then won four matches before losing the championship Sunday to Oklahoma State sophomore JoJo Robertson, 2 and 1.

``I'm fairly competitive, and I'd like nothing more than to be able to compete for a living,'' Drambour said Monday after arriving back in the area. ``Whether I make a lot of money or very little, if I can pay my bills and support myself doing it, then that's what I'm going to do.''

So look for Drambour, 29, to join the play-for-pay crew sometime after competing in the State Amateur and the Futures in July and the U.S. Amateur in August.

Her strong play against the nation's top amateurs has given Drambour a boost to take the next step.

``I just didn't know what was out there,'' said Drambour, a Shenendehowa and George Mason graduate. ``I've been playing well and been working real hard on my game, so I felt like I was ready. The experience factor everybody has been out there for years and playing since they've been 8 I thought I might be at a disadvantage. As it turned out, it didn't really affect me.''

Drambour has spent the last four winters in Sarasota, Fla., working a 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. waitress shift at a local course, then playing golf until dark.

She returns to the Capital Region each summer and has been successful locally, winning the Northeastern Women's Golf Association tournament last season and making the semifinals of the State Amateur the last three years.

``It has been a longer struggle than I thought it was going to be,'' she said.

This competition, her first U.S. Golf Association event, was a considerable step. The tournament is run for women who play the country's public courses. LPGA star Danielle Ammaccapane won the 1985 tournament.

The Golf Channel also was on hand for live coverage.

``I've never played in front of that many people and television cameras,'' Drambour said. ``I didn't know how it was going to be, but it didn't bother me.''

She was possibly the only player sporting a tattoo. Drambour has a cardinal on her left leg, a story The Golf Channel picked up.

``When my dad passed away,'' Drambour said, ``that morning a big red cardinal came to the windowsill and just sat there, which was kind of unusual. My mom was at the window, just kind of trying to be by herself. This cardinal flew up, and my father loved red. It was kind of our sign that everything was OK.

``So I figured I would get a tattoo of a cardinal to always have my father with me. I had my signature on it. I'm an artist, and I sign my artwork that way. I thought it was a thing I'd never regret having.''

Drambour, a former U.S. national soccer team player who still competes in the Empire State Games, is looking to join a Florida mini-tour this winter. Her preference is the Gold Coast tour, if she can raise about $15,000. There is also the Central Florida Challenge tour.

``You can stay amateur, get a real job and play when you can, or make a move,'' she said. ``I'm going to make a move. I'm not the best amateur in the country, but there are a lot of girls I've played with who have turned pro and are doing OK. I know I can play with them. It's just going to take a little more experience.''