U.S. SENIOR WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Briele Characteristically Upbeat After Disappointing Start
September 17, 2016 | Wellesley, Mass.
By Rob Duca
Kim Briele has never lacked confidence, whether on a golf course, on the basketball court, on a softball diamond, behind a news desk or in a boardroom negotiating the production of a television series.
She was a sports anchor during an era when women were treated as interlopers by many male athletes and reporters. When she was offered an opportunity to play basketball for the University of North Carolina – without a scholarship – she declined. Instead, she played golf and softball for the Tar Heels.
“I can be pretty hard-headed,” admitted Briele, 55, of New Bern, N.C.
Briele struggled in the first round of stroke play in the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at Wellesley Country Club, shooting 94. But if history is any indication, she is unlikely to be demoralized. Playing in her first Senior Women’s Amateur two years ago, she was the 64th seed in match play, yet she couldn’t have been happier about playing against two-time champion Ellen Port.
“People were coming up to me saying, sarcastically, ‘Hey, good luck,’” she said. “But I thought I had gotten the best draw in the field. Not because I thought I would beat her, but because I knew I would learn a lot and it would make me better.”
Briele kept the match tight for eight holes before Port rolled to a 5-and-4 win. Briele kept a close watch on her opponent, looking for any hint that the experienced Port might start to unravel. Instead, she saw only a calm, steely-eyed focus.
“She could have been thinking, ‘Could this No. 64 seed beat me today?’ But she never wavered or became distracted. She stayed with her game plan,” said Briele.
That lesson got her into this week’s field. In her qualifier in Scottsdale, Ariz., Briele shot 40 on the outward nine. She remembered Port’s demeanor and shot 36 over the final nine holes to earn a spot in this week’s championship.
There are few competitors in this week’s field with a more eclectic résumé. Born in Stuttgart, Germany, Briele moved to the United States at age 2. As a teen, basketball was her best sport. She was 18 when she received an invitation to try out for the the 1980 USA Olympic basketball team, making it past the first cut.
“I didn’t realize that team had probably been picked before I even got there,” she said. “When I think back on it, I should have tried out for the German team. I would have made that [team].”
After graduating from North Carolina, Briele was assistant sports director at WBTV in Charlotte and WCTI in New Bern. She later produced and co-hosted shows such as “This Week on the Hooters Tour” and “Inside the LPGA,” in addition to developing documentaries. Currently, she is president and CEO of LCA Advertising & Productions and also serves as tournament director for the Southeastern Junior Golf Tour.
Seven years ago, she combined her video production skills with her passion for storytelling to form I Love That Lady, a non-profit organization that recognizes women in her local community who work behind the scenes to improve people’s lives. The yearly banquet has raised more than $50,000. Her work with a local homeless shelter is expected to raise another $50,000 on Oct. 2 through a concert featuring John Michael Montgomery.
Her first appearance in a USGA championship came 15 years ago in the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur. She qualified for six additional Women’s Mid-Amateurs over the next 11 years, reaching the Round of 32 in 2009.
Briele’s biggest win was last year’s North Carolina Women’s Senior Amateur. After an opening-round 80, she switched to a long putter, which she used without anchoring it to her body.
“The tournament came down to a right-to-left 5-footer and all I could think was ‘Do not miss this putt,’” she said. “The feeling when it went in was incredible. I finally knew what it felt like to finish.”
Although her chances of victory at Wellesley are very slim, Briele remains upbeat.
“That desire to compete is what keeps me going,” she said. “It’s like the air I breathe. I need it.”
Rob Duca is a Massachusetts-based writer.