21 Oct 2021 | Feature stories |

Mona's magnificent golfing journey

by Dane Heverin

Mona Picone presenting the inaugural Mona Picone Trophy to Gemma Dooley at Moore Park Golf Club.
Mona Picone presenting the inaugural Mona Picone Trophy to Gemma Dooley at Moore Park Golf Club.

Our recent story on Narooma Golf Club’s Sylvia Donohoe’s 14 consecutive club championships has had golf enthusiasts around the country discussing incredible winning records.

Across the country people shared stories of friends, family and fellow golfers whose names cover large sections of honour boards and one such story that emerged was that of Sydneysider Mona Picone.

Picone, who sadly passed away last month aged 91, remarkably won 16 club championships at Moore Park Golf Club and an additional 12 club championships at Woollahra Golf Club.

The majority of those victories came in consecutive championships at Moore Park from 1975 to 1979 and 1981 to 1988, and at Woollahra from 1976 to 1987.

“I think in one weekend she managed to win both the Moore Park and Woollahra club championships,” Guy Picone, Mona’s son, said.

Her winning record also includes 17 women’s foursomes titles and 15 mixed foursomes titles at Moore Park, as well as another five foursomes crowns at Woollahra.

She was a member at Bonnie Doon Golf Club for a period of time too and that created the connection to Sylvia Donohoe’s story.

“Sylvia’s name rang a bell. I remembered mum talking about her,” Guy Picone said.

Their golfing triumphs have numerous similarities, although their journey’s began in very different fashion.

Picone did not start swinging a golf club until the late 1960s once she was married with young children, but she quickly caught the golfing bug.

“She ended up having almost weekly golf lessons for about a year because she wanted to get it right and she wanted to be successful,” Guy Picone said.

“She would practice all the time. She’d be down the local park chipping balls into buckets.

“My earliest memories were that - dad ran a fruit and veggie shop - so sometimes mum would take me along with her when she was playing because she couldn’t leave me at home alone. I can remember walking with her and having a hit to keep me entertained as a young kid.”

Despite the countless hours working on her own game, Picone’s time in golf was not only about her own career.

She was a strong supporter of junior players and on one occasion she took a talented junior under her wing and into her home as she sought to become a professional.

Two-time Australian Amateur champion Michelle Ellis lived with the Picone’s in the late 1990s as she worked in the pro shop at Moore Park and climbed the amateur ranks after moving to Sydney from Casino in New South Wales’ Northern Rivers region.

Ellis went onto play on the LPGA Tour for a decade and served as LPGA Player Director for the 2009-2011 seasons, including a stint as president for the 2009 season.

Picone’s influence was far-reaching and a point of immense pride for her family.

“It was pretty awesome. It wasn’t until I did some research for mum’s 90th that I realised how successful she’d been,” Guy Picone said. 

“We’d been down to the clubs and sometimes you’d look at the honour boards and see there’s a familiar name up there. But it didn’t mean as much to me until I joined a golf club myself.

“It wasn’t just about her though, it was also about what she could give back to the game.”

To acknowledge all her outstanding time in golf, Picone is a life member of Moore Park Golf Club and the trophy for the best aggregate score after the first two qualifying rounds in the club championship is named the Mona Picone Trophy.

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