Lauren Thibodeau back on the course after battling serious illness

May 23—THE LAST YEAR OR SO has been difficult for many people for many reasons. Hampstead’s Lauren Thibodeau is not exempt from that group.

For those unfamiliar with Thibodeau, she was a four-time NHIAA girls state champion while she attended Pinkerton Academy, and won the first of her seven straight New Hampshire Women’s Golf Association Girls Junior Championships when she was 11.

She’s a member of the Louisville women’s golf team, but a medical condition forced her to leave school last fall. That meant she also had to leave the golf team, so she did not participate in the spring golf season.

“It was a crazy winter medically … I guess that’s the best way to put it,” Thibodeau said. “That was a bit of a struggle, so it hasn’t been as much golf as normal. The good thing is I started practicing again in April and I have a tournament in June in Florida. Looking forward to that, and getting back to competition.”

Thibodeau said she first knew something wasn’t right last fall. She was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2019 and originally thought she wasn’t feeling well because of something related to that diagnosis. She changed her diet, but the issues persisted.

She left school on Nov. 24 and completed her final exams at home. Her condition didn’t improve, however. Things only got worse.

“I went to the emergency room at Boston Children’s Hospital on Dec. 5 and I was in the hospital for 55 days,” she said. “I had severe ulcerative colitis. They tried to treat it and it wasn’t working. They had this last treatment that kept me in the hospital over Christmas. Last shot before they would have had to remove my colon.

“Then I started to get neurological symptoms on Christmas, and I never had issues like that before. I didn’t know who my family was, so it was very scary.

“They still really don’t know what happened, but at least they have a treatment for me that worked — or at least working at this time.”

Thibodeau, 21, was cleared to begin swinging a golf club — 10 swings a day — in March, and earlier this spring she played 18 holes at Windham Country Club. It was the first time she played a full round of golf since last October.

She plans to return to Louisville and resume her collegiate golf career in the fall.

“With golf, I seem to be very close (to top form) is what I would say, but it’s hard to tell because I’m not playing in competitions,” she said. “People ask me to put a percentage on it and I say I’m feeling 90-95 percent.”

Thibodeau will resume playing competitive golf when she participates in the Women’s Southern Amateur Championship, which will be held June 7-11 in Lake Worth, Fla.

She said she expects to play in the New England Women’s Amateur, and attempt to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Amateur this summer. If she fails to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Am, the NHWGA Amateur Championship is a possibility. She won that event in 2019 at Breakfast Hill Golf Club.

Because of her recent trials and tribulations, Thibodeau was nominated for the Kim Moore Spirit Award. Moore persevered through many physical challenges during her golf career at the University of Indianapolis (1999-2003).

The award is presented by the Women’s Golf Coaches’ Association to recognize and honor a college athlete or coach who exemplifies a great spirit toward the game of golf, a positive attitude on and off the golf course, and serves as a role model for dealing with mental toughness in facing challenges.

“Since late January everything has been progressing,” Thibodeau said. “No regression at all, which is really great. Long road with lots of doctors visits and stuff like that.

“It’s definitely been a roller coaster of emotions and stuff I never thought would happen.”

Former Gilford resident Mark Baldwin finished in a tie for 17th in last week’s Korn Ferry Tour event, the Visit Knoxville Open held at Holston Hills Country Club in Knoxville, Tenn.

Baldwin, who was featured in this column two weeks ago, finished with a 10-under-par 270, and was under par in each of the tournament’s four rounds (68-66-69-67).

Baldwin won the 2006 New Hampshire Open.

.

Rules question: During match play, the two players discontinue play after two holes because of bad weather. They later resume the match from the first hole. The tournament committee isn’t made aware of what occurred until after the match result is posted. What is the correct ruling?

.

Susan Flynn, who was representing Pease Golf Course, won the First Flight title of the NHGA Women’s Match play Championship by beating Breakfast Hills Golf Course’s Michael Culbert 8 and 6 Wednesday at Dover’s Cochecho Country Club.

Answer to rules question: The result of the match should stand as posted.

Source: USGA Rules of Golf (Rule 2.1.6)

NEW HAMPSHIRE GOLF CALENDAR

June 1: NHWGA Spring Fling (Owl’s Nest)

June 3: NHGA Tournament Series (Lake Sunapee CC)

June 5-6: NHGA Players Invitational (Baker Hill GC)

June 9-10: NHWGA Women’s Team Championship (Beaver Meadow GC)

June 10: NHGA Four Ball Championship (Owl’s Nest)

June 13: NHGA Junior Spring Preview

June 15: NHGA Stroke Play Series (Pembroke Pines CC)

June 21: Junior Team Championship (TBA)

June 22: NHWGA President’s Cup (Pease GC)

June 23: NHGA State Am qualifier (Breakfast Hill GC)

June 25: NHGA Junior Tour Mini Series (Intervale CC)

June 25: NHGA State Am qualifier (Bretwood GC/South)

June 27: NHGA State Am qualifier (Beaver Meadow GC)

June 28: Hoodkroft Junior Open

June 28: NHGA State Am qualifier (Abenaqui CC)

June 28: NHGA State Am qualifier (Maplewood GC)

June 28-30: New England Women’s Amateur (Agawam Hunt/East Providence, R.I.)

June 29: NHGA State Am qualifier (Loudon CC)

June 30: Junior Tour (Owl’s Nest)

July 1: Mini Series (Rockingham CC)

July 6-7: Junior All-Star Championship (Mt. Washington Resort GC)

July 8: Junior Tour (Candia Woods)

July 12-17: NHGA Amateur Championship (North Conway CC)

July 19-21: Mike Ryan Memorial Championship (Derryfield CC)

July 20-22: New England Amateur (Great River Golf Club/Milford, Conn.)

July 22: Junior Tour (Keene CC)

July 26: Junior Tour (Breakfast Hill GC)

July 27: Junior Tour (Loudon CC)

Aug 2-4: Junior Championship (Pease GC)

Aug 15-17: New England Junior Amateur (Val Halla Golf Course/Cumberland, Maine)

Aug. 19: Junior Invitational (TBA)

Sept. 14-15: New England Senior Amateur (Manchester Country Club/Manchester, Vt.)

[email protected]

Advertisement