How Liz Gallinaro Played Her Way Into 2023 Mass Women's Amateur - MASSGOLF

Liz Gallinaro Is Among Leaders In Most Improved Player Challenge

By Steve Derderian

DEDHAM, Massachusetts — Liz Gallinaro was in a race against time. Two years after the Amherst native rekindled a passion for golf, she wanted to play in this year’s Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship.

But the former UConn hockey standout had some work to do. On June 1, Gallinaro’s handicap sat at 13.3, and she had about six weeks to get it to 10.0 in order to become eligible. With an athlete’s determination, she kept working at it, taking advise from her lessons and implementing them during many of 6 a.m. rounds at George Wright Golf Course. By the end of June, she had finally reached her goal and was able to play in a state amateur championship for the first time.

“Getting into competitive golf has been a nice reminder how fun it is to compete, particularly with people who are better you,” said Gallinaro, who played soccer, hockey and softball growing up. “Women’s sports has come such a long way and seeing all these young women that are just so awesome, I’m looking forward to seeing them up close and personal.”

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Liz Gallinaro hits her opening tee shot Monday at Dedham Country & Polo Club. (David Colt)

Earning a spot in the Women’s Amateur wasn’t the only byproduct of lowing her Handicap. By the Fourth of July, Gallinaro had jumped to the top of the leaderboard of the Most Improved Golfer Challenge Presented by Delta, introduced by Mass Golf earlier this spring. Fittingly, Gallinaro was on the golf course when family and friends began texting screenshots of the standings update. “I had no idea,” Gallinaro said. “It’s really interesting to see that, and now it’s a motivator because I’m no longer on the top.”

The crossover from hockey to golf is hardly a rare phenomenon. Gallinaro was a left-shot defender who scored six goals with 11 goals and 22 assists in four years with the Huskies, but she always swung the golf club right-handed. More interestingly, Gallinaro’s newfound interest essentially sparked on a whim. You would think it might’ve been going to Hickory Ridge with family growing up; or maybe it was using UConn’s practice facilities in her spare time; or having free access to Amherst Golf Course as an assistant women’s hockey coach. To the contrary, she considered dropping golf all together. “At one point I had made a joke to my dad that I was retired from golf, except for Father’s Day and charity events,” Gallinaro said.

Gallinaro has been out of coaching hockey for five years and now lives in Boston working in private equity strategy for Boston Consulting Group. It turned out playing in work events post-COVID, even while using rental clubs, helped turn the tide. She said it felt good to work toward something in a sport again.

Liz Gallinaro played defense for the UConn women’s hockey team in the mid-2000s. (Contributed)

She also began taking lessons with Pat Bigelow at Framingham Country Club, where her brother Andrew is a member. (Andrew will be on the bag this week). Citing her vast improvement, it was Bigelow’s urging that Gallinaro register for competitive events.

“I didn’t really have a golf swing a year or so ago,” Gallinaro said. “I was kind of an athlete hacking at it. He helped me develop the fundamental basics of the swing, my short game, and my putting is so much better. He’s smart and he simplifies everything and makes it really digestible. And then he’s just also so positive. I feel really lucky to have the opportunity to work with him because he works with legitimate golfers, so it’s nice that he’ll give some time for me.”

Gallinaro debuted in the New England Women’s Amateur at Manchester Country Club (CT) with scores of 89-87—176, but in Net scoring they were among the best in the field (71 & 69). The second was U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Qualifying a week ago at George Wright, where she was in contention late. Scores aside, Gallinaro said veteran players have taken an interest in the rookie competitor.

“At the New England Women’s Amateur, people introduced themselves and asked if I had played in this before. I said ‘No, actually, it’s my first tournament ever.’ And everyone was just so supportive of that, and that’s kind of continued,” said Gallinaro, who played a practice round at Dedham with mid-amateur standout Tracy Martin.

Gallinaro hopes to one day qualify for a national event. But in the meantime, she said she is enjoying both the camaraderie and challenge that golf provides at this point in her life.

“I don’t think I appreciated when people say golf is the greatest game,” Gallinaro said. “I always grew up thinking hockey was the coolest game, but now I know golf really is the greatest game.”


For complete coverage of the 120th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship, visit or follow Mass Golf on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @PlayMassGolf and use the hashtag #MassWomensAm.