Tuesday, March 10, 2009

That one shot that keeps golfers coming back!

The tournament....
We were assigned our carts and given box lunches and were told we would be escorted to our respective tees very shortly. So, I thought that would be the right time to make a trip to the ladies room. Remember I mentioned that "cute" golf outfit that I had chosen? Well the zipper on my brand new skirt got stuck. It would not go up or down. I was trapped in the skirt and had play 18 holes of golf. And, since I was playing with 3 complete strangers who were men, I couldn't even tell them of my dilemma.

This was my first ever tournament so I had no idea what to expect. Things started off well and my three fellow golfers were very nice to this novice. I was hitting the ball okay - not as far as I would have liked but at least it was straight. We progressed through the holes and I politely refused any opportunity for a "pit stop." At the 14th hole I teed up and whacked the ball with my driver. My teammates started hollering! I was afraid that I had done something wrong or, worse yet, hit someone as they continued to jump around and hoot and holler. It seems there is something in a golf tournament called a "long drive" and, being a lady I was eligible for the "ladies long drive." My teammates had seen my drive go past the post which had marked the previous long drive. They graciously staked out my drive and added my name to the list while informing me that the drive was 227. While I was thrilled with this number I was sure that my joy would be short-lived because there were much better lady golfers still playing.
The afternoon passed rather quickly and soon we were finished all 18 holes. Fortunately, I had brought a change of clothes for the awards dinner so I could finally get out of my skirt and...well you know.
I was greeted by friends and neighbors with "high fives" because it seemed my drive had prevailed. As beginner's luck would have it, my long drive prevailed and I did win! The prize wasn't much but as they say in sports "the thrill of victory" more than made up for material offerings. Plus, I was hooked. One good (okay, pretty great) shot decreed that my golf life will continue.
By the way...the picture is: Ladies Long Drive Winner (me!) and friends.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Chipping for Charity

Reins Volunteers Help Disabled Child onto Horse
Picture credit: Reins of Life

The long hours required by my job do not allow me a great deal of free time to do any formalized charity work however I do believe in giving back to the community. I do what I can to help out at Reins Therapeutic Riding Academy. This wonderful organization run by true angels on earth provides therapeutic riding lessons to children with all manner of disability. Reins voluteers help children with Downs Syndrome, autisum, spina bifida, cerebral palsy and a mryaid of other disablities. It is miraculous to see what can be accomplished on the back of a horse. The horses in this program really seem to know they have special passengers aboard. In addition to attending their fund-raising events I also "judge" the horse show they put on so the students and family members get to enjoy what the child has worked hard to learn. I show up in my past horse show garb and because the children never see me, I can actually pull off the judge part.
(You can read all about this wonderful organization at: http://www.reingsprogram.org/)
I was asked to participate in another event for Reins - since I am now learning to play - their fundraising golf tournament. I readily (okay stupidly) agreed -not having a clue what I was letting myself in for.
The day of the tournament promised to be a very warm one. However I had my outfit all picked out; a brand new golf skirt,matching top. new golf shoes and even a cute hat. Perpetually early, bi was one of the first to arrive. I had signed up for the awards dinner but did not realize that a box lunch would be served so I ordered food from the snack bar. I had just finished when they rolled out the golfer's lunches which were much more appealing and healthier than what I had ordered.
Next came the registration process where I learned I was to be teamed up with three gentlemen - all golfers. Oh great! This after I had begged them to please put me with people who were "non-players" just out there to help Reins raise money. Instead, I'm placed with "serious" golfers who want to win!
What happened next? You will have to "tune in" to next week's blog to find out! (Here's a hint....all was not lost!)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Fore means Fore!

Under Jeff's guidance, students are encouraged to get out on the course and play as part of the learning process. This is AFTER Jeff feels we have enough control of the ball not to be dangerous to ourselves and to others however golf is actually a fairly dangerous sport. Consider the fact that one is playing on long, narrow fairways and that anyone at all can actually be permitted on a golf course and that tiny little ball is hit at a powerful rate of speed and often does not travel in the direction one expects it to.
Source: listed on picture.

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, Keith, a fellow student and I decided to play around of golf together. Keith and I are both beginners so we are fairly well matched. Boy was that ever a bad idea. First, unbeknown to us, Thanksgiving Friday is one of THE busiest days on golf courses and the folks out there are typically non-players just out for a day of fun. The folks we encountered that day were indeed rank amateurs. They had no knowledge of golf etiquette, took their time at each tee and conversed at each hole and stood with mouths open when we asked if we could "play through." (Advance past players who are slow - a common courtesy in golf.) Playing through did not end up being such a hot idea either as we later found ourselves waiting behind another novice group. We were sitting in the cart, with Keith in the driver's seat when he turned his head towards me to speak. THWACK! Keith's cheekbone, just below his eye had been hit by a golf ball. No one had hollered the warning "fore" so it was pure luck that Keith had turned his head. Otherwise he very likely would have lost an eye. The golfer who drove the ball was on an opposite fairway and instead of driving the ball straight ahead had driven the ball at a 45 degree angle nailing Keith dead on. That was the end of our game that day. We picked up ice for his cheek and headed straight to emergency as his face was quite swollen and his eye beginning to close. Fortunately, even though it took a number of weeks to heal and Keith had a grand shinner, he is no worse off except he vows he will never play on Thanksgiving Friday again. My friend Alissa's brother Tom was not so lucky. Tom had played golf for 20 years often with the same group of friends. It was a fine September day when Tom and his best friend and two other buddies met up to play 18 holes. It was a glorious day until the 7th hole where Tom, having sunk his putt hopped on the back of the golf cart, where the clubs are carried. Tom's best friend choose that moment to "floor" the golf cart which learched forward. Tom slipped off the cart and hit his head on the concrete cart path. Despite the Doctor's best efforts, Tom never regained consciousness and died 3days later.

Am I mindful of these and other hazards while out on the course? You bet. Am I going to stop learning to play? No way. Sure, there's always a chance of being hit by an errant ball or someone doing something stupid on the course however one cannot stop living just because there is an element of danger involved. I will not play with people who fool around during play or those who mistake the golf course for a cocktail party but a beer and a few laughs make the game enjoyable so I will continue to plug away at attempting to master this sport. However I will keep my head up and a careful eye on those playing around me.

Here is some interesting information on golf cart safety.

Golf Cart Safety Because golf carts operate at relatively slow speeds, it's easy to overlook safety procedures. But golf cart accidents can cause serious injury and death. Between 1992 and 2001, golf cart accidents caused an average of 739 nonfatal injuries annually that led to lost workdays, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. From 1994 to 2000, the Bureau reported an average of five deaths per year associated with golf carts.
Source: www.gofcartaccidents.com

Monday, February 9, 2009

Family Fun...even if I'm not ready.

So, the lessons have begun in earnest. We have progressed to work on my swing and Jeff sends me home after each lesson with "homework" - specific things to practise - such as learning to keep my arms close to my body, turning from the hip, shifting my weight and other valuable tools.

I also bought golf books by everyone from Tiger to David Leadbetter however you cannot learn golf through osmosis. (I do however have a better understanding of all those strange golf terms. For example, do you know what "waggle" is? It's the little movement most golfers make before swinging - typically unique to each golfer.)

My ablity or lack thereof was put to the test when some of my cousins, pictured above, flew in for a convention and decided that they wanted to play golf - with me! All three have been playing for years. The beautiful and tough course at the Rancho Bernardo Inn was chosen for our outing and my family took pity on me - they didn't keep track of my score. Probably because no one can count that high. Score or not, it was a glorious day and we had a ball - well many balls if you count all the ones I lost.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Tiger Woods' swing in slow motion

Tiger Woods' swing in slow motion

Video source: www.tigerwoods.com

Poetry in motion. Tiger's swing..never mine.

From my first lesson I knew that my ability to master this game was going to be quite limited. First, I'm not two years old (by that age Tiger was already sinking puts on the Merv Griffin show) second, I am very left-handed...an advantage in tennis but not in golf and third, I am a woman. We just do not have the physical strength to propel the ball the distance buff, young men do.

Please view the video link above this post of Tiger's perfect swing which is is how the ball should be struck. But, that didn't mean I couldn't learn to play at least a decent game so I showed up for Lesson 1 with a set of clubs that I had bought off the internet. (That's about as smart as buying eyeglasses off the internet - without a prescription.) Jeff was and continues to be a great teacher. Ever patient, we began to work on first things first - my stance. As unflattering as it sounds, he showed me how to stick my butt out slightly, bend my knees a bit and lean forward so that I could "address" the ball. (Hello ball!)

Photo source: http://www.tigerwoods.com/

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A good walk spoiled indeed!

This is the hardest thing I've ever done! I've always considered myself to be pretty athletic. I jumped out of airplanes, showed horses competitively and was on the swim team in high school and college. But golf is HARD!

A while back a friend took me to a driving range. A southpaw, I was using an old set of left-handed clubs and I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. My friend, a delusional optimist, said that perhaps with the right set of clubs and a little instruction I might have potential. Hmmm, those cute golf clothes, playing on the best real estate and nice looking men. Golf had potential.

So, the next week I spent time "interviewing" teaching pros in North County like I knew what I was doing. Sometimes even a blind pig finds a golf ball and I was lucky enough to find Jeff Sampson. Stayed tuned....my first lesson was about to happen.