News has been circulating in the community about the death of
Debbie Lee, the mother of accomplished Kitsap golfers Erynne and
Katie Lee. I haven’t talked directly to the family or seen an
obituary, so I’ve been hesitant to report the news
but after talking to several people I feel confident that what
information I have gathered is accurate.
Our thoughts are with Erynne, Katie and their father,
Brian. Our staff has had enough interaction with the girls and the
family over the years to know how painful this loss must be
and our thoughts are with them at his difficult time. Brian
and Debbie sacrificed so much for Erynne and Katie, two of the
sweetest girls around. You could always tell much much
they appreciated the love and direction their parents
When asked about her parents financial committment
following an exhibition against the guys in October, 2010, at
Kitsap Golf & Country Club, Katie Lee said:
“My sister and I, we always have to keep that in mind. We can’t
let ourselves get off track to like fool around. We know our dad
and mom are always working hard and we have to pay back for what
they’re doing right now.”
Debbie and Brian Lee pushed their daughters to
be successful on and off the golf course, but they
weren’t pushy. And there’s a difference.
Here’s what I’ve been able to put together about Debbie
Debbie Lee died last week in South Korea. Her memorial
service was held over the weekend in the Los Angeles area, where
the Lee family resided before moving to Kitsap County. Debbie was
in her mid-40s.
According to golf pro Ted Naff, who has worked
with both Lee sisters as a swing coach, Debbie Lee hadn’t been
feeling well and she flew to South Korea to get checked out. She
had a heart attack, followed by a stroke while in a
Korean hospital on Oct. 31 or Nov. 1, and never came
out of a coma. Her daughters flew to Korea at one point to be with
While her husband, Brian Lee, introduced the girls to
golf, Debbie was there for every step of their
If the girls were playing a practice round at the Kitsap
Golf & Country Club, or hitting balls on the range at Gold
Mountain, she wasn’t far away.
“She was unbelievably involved and sort of did everything
for them,” said Scott Alexander, director of golf at Gold Mountain
Golf Club. “It’s a very, very close family. It’s a
“She’d drive them out to the course and was always
there for them,” said KG&CC pro Al Patterson, who put together
a pair of fund-raising exhibitions for the Lees. (Brian Lee
returned the $300 donations that were awarded to both
daughters after UCLA’s compliance office ruled that Erynne couldn’t
accept hers; Patterson said UCLA told him the club could make a
donation to the Lee family, which is OK with NCAA
Naff said he met Debbie Lee when he was teaching a
beginning golf class at Olympic College.
“She came up one day and said, ‘I’ve got a couple
daughters who have some talent. Would you look at
Erynne Lee, currently a freshman at UCLA — her mom and dad
both graduated from UCLA — is ranked No. 14 among women college
players in the country and tied for No. 39 overall among women
amateurs by Golfweek Magazine. She qualified for the 2008 and 2011
U.S. Women’s Open. She reached the semifinals of the 2008 U.S.
Amateur, and the quarterfinals of that tournament in 2010 and 2011.
She’s been the Washington State Golf Association Women’s Player of
the Year three of the last four years, and the Pacific Northwest
Golf Association’s Women’s Player of the Year twice.
Katie Lee, a junior at Central Kitsap, has already played
in a U.S. Women’s Amateur and U.S. Girls.
Both sisters have talked about their desire to eventually
play on the LPGA Tour.
Erynne and Katie placed 1-2 at the Washington State
Women’s Amateur this summer. Erynne and Katie were first
and fifth at the Class 4A state high school tournament last
spring, helping Central Kitsap to a second-place finish.
Debbie Lee was there for almost every shot at every
one of her daughters’ tournaments.
“She was very involved, no question about it,” Naff
Naff, who caddied for Eyrnne Lee at her first U.S. Women’s
Open in 2008, said he’s talked to both sisters since their
“It’s very sad of course,” he said. “But they’re pretty
well adjusted, stable kids. They are dealing with it as
well as anybody possibly could.”