Anita Jo Petrusky, one of the area's best female golfers, entered the arena of competitive local golf at a relatively late age.
As a youth, she played golf only occasionally with parents Joe and Bernita, who had become interested in golf after attending an early Masters tournament during the mid-1950s.
Music, not sports, is what the Altoona-native focused on before graduating from high school where she had been an exceptional student, excelling at the flute and piano. It wasn't until college that she became interested in athletics.
Introduced to new classmates, Petrusky became involved in cycling, and after graduation she returned home where she quickly became active in the Altoona Bicycle Club.
After years of cycling, recreationally and competitively, Petrusky remembers one fateful ride she had in the late 1980s.
"I stopped to rest by the side of the road, next to a golf course," Petrusky said. "It looked so beautiful and peaceful. I remember sending a postcard to my dad, saying, 'I think I should try playing golf again.'''
After a couple of years at Appledale Golf Course in Ebensburg, she joined Summit Country Club and got to know some of the club's better female golfers such as Nina Rickens, Mazey Gibson and Beth Ann Skura.
About that time, Petrusky received a few lessons from former PGA pro Frank Kiraly and soon improved to the point where she began to dominate ladies' tournaments at Summit.
The club's current head pro, Randy Repko, witnessed Petrusky's rapid improvement.
"It didn't take her long to become one of the better women golfers in our area," he said. "She loves the game of golf and is also a fierce competitor. She embodies everything that is great about women's golf in our area."
In addition to club events, Petrusky became involved in a wide array of statewide tournaments including Tri-County, Central Counties, and PSWGA (Pennsylvania State Women's Golf Association) events and competed on courses like Fox Chapel and Oakmont.
One of her closest golfing friends, Iron Masters' Gwen Paden, has been both a partner and competitor of Petrusky's in numerous events over the years.
"Anita Jo has been one of the best women golfers in our area over the past 20 years," Paden said. "She works very hard on her game, but more importantly she is a wonderful, caring person."
For several years, Petrusky joined Iron Masters Country Club and competed in its club championship in addition to Summit's (where she has collected 20 titles). One year, when she was able to beat the dominant Paden for the Iron Masters title, Petrusky received plenty of praise, including some from Paden's husband, the late Joe Paden.
After congratulating her on a hard-fought victory, Petrusky recalled Joe's funny line.
"You know, Anita Jo, I am used to sleeping with the Iron Masters ladies champion," Joe Paden cracked.
In addition to the many friends she has made in golf over the year - like Paden, Kate Conway, Jack and Jenny Garland, Patti Dodson, Deb Showalter and Deb Long, to name a few - Petrusky also enjoys the game for the exercise it provides.
She often carries her bag while walking 18 holes in the early mornings at the Summit.
It is as a competitor, though, where Petrusky has shined, especially in recent years. In addition to her numerous club championships, Petrusky has helped lead the Summit women's team to victory at the last two Greater Altoona tournaments.
Last year she also captured the Greater Altoona women's individual title, her second overall, and will be back again this year to defend.