When ‘T’ Cleland was named to Niagara University’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996, it was not because of her achievements on the golf course. Actually, she had not yet taken up the sport when she graduated from college. ‘T’ played basketball and volleyball before two ACLs ended her playing days for the Purple Eagles, and didn’t take up golf until she was 26.
It would not take her long to become a dominant player on the amateur golf scene, locally and beyond. She won the first of her four Syracuse Women’s District Golf Association titles in 1996, adding SWDGA crowns in 2008, ’11 and ’12. Her third District crown came with a flourish at the finish — an eagle-2 at Pompey’s No. 2 in a sudden death playoff.
Cleland shares a record with Hall of Famer Walt Knych, who won five Herald Amateurs. ‘T’ has won five Post-Standard Amateurs (2002, ’07, ’09, ’10 and ’13).
Statewide, ‘T’ has certainly made her mark, winning two New York State Golf Association Senior championships (2009-10) and a consecutive trifecta in the NYSGA Mid-Amateur (2011-12-13).
Cleland has competed at the national level, as well. Three times she was on the New York squad in the United States Golf Association women’s state team championship (2007, ’09 and ’11). And she’s played five times in both the USGA Mid-Am (2007, ’08, ’10, ’12 and ’13) and USGA Senior championships, the latter five years running since 2009.
A six-time medalist in the USGA Sectional qualifier, Cleland was a fifth-place finisher in the 2012 North & South Amateur at Pinehurst.
For more than 30 years, ‘T’ has been a physical education teacher at Corcoran. Bellevue Country Club’s self-professed “range rat,” she is regarded as our town’s finest women’s amateur player since Ginnie Allen, who was among the Hall of Fame inaugural inductees and the matriarch of Syracuse golf.
Now, we welcome Teresa ‘T’ Cleland into the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame, Class of 2014.