Seasons Change

For me the season changing from Spring to Summer means transitioning from spectator to player. This Spring I had the pleasure of attending the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. Going into the week the weather was looking beautiful so I took vacation and attended Wednesday – Sunday.

 

Wednesday, I attended  the Pro-Am tournament.  I have loved attending the Pro-Am over the years.  The players are very social, stopping for pictures, autographs and take the time to answer questions. Wednesday morning I followed Tiger with a minimal gallery (by Tiger standards), and later in the afternoon Graeme McDowell. I even got up enough nerve to ask Graeme for an autograph to which he happily obliged. He seemed genuinely surprised when I told him I follow him on Twitter.  Thursday – Sunday I followed Graeme, Tiger, Aaron Badderly and Rickie Fowler (I liked his pink outfit best). I literally was on the course from sun up to sun down.

 

Of course this type of schedule can only be completed with the help of friends. First, my friends the Campbell’s, who live on the course, kept me hydrated, fed and provided a great restroom. Mr. Bell,  provided me with a weekly badge when I realized my two one day badges weren’t going to be enough. And then the golfers themselves who played outstanding golf that kept me glued to their every drive and putt.

 

The only thing that topped this in- person experience was watching the Masters. Wow and wow. I found myself watching via computer and on television. The online coverage was amazing. I loved being able to watch multiple holes. It was so thrilling!

 

But as we transition into Summer it’s time to get off the couch and onto the course.  I recently took a lesson at Orange County National Golf Course with Coach Ted. We narrowed my stance, soften my grip and got me to do a full shoulder back and forward rotation. I was so completely jazzed leaving that lesson.

 

And now it’s time to take what I’ve learned and put it to the test. This week I’ll be playing in the 9 hole after- hours league.  Follow my progress here or on Twitter @playforwardtees.  I have a feeling this is going to be an exciting season!

When I Golf Grow Up

Wow, did November fly by for anyone else or just me? Luckily for me I was able to get in a lot of Golf! As if getting in lots of golf was enough, it was made better by playing with some really good golfers.  I’m the type of person that if John Daly were to call and ask to play with me, I would say yes without thinking. Then of course, the day of, I’d freak out.

 

I was very excited when a friend said he was travelling home and would stop in Orlando. He is a great golfer and very passionate about the game. I knew a weekend hanging out with him would provide opportunities to improve my game.  During his visit we played two rounds. During these two rounds I learned the following things: I break my “V” on contact with the ball, I need to tee up more when using my driver, I need to record the distances I get with each club, get the range an hour before tee time  and lastly, a bag full of irons and hybrids won’t cut it. I need to buy some fairway woods.  The biggest thing I learned is I need to stop getting frustrated and start each hole with a new attitude. Ok, so I’ve learned a lot but where do I start?

 

Getting to the range an hour before tee time is going to take some work. It was easy to do during my friend’s visit because I cleared my schedule but usually I’m lucky if I get to the clubhouse 15 minutes before the tee time.  The goal going forward is to get to the clubhouse no later than 45 minutes prior to tee time.

 

Ok, what to tackle next? The following weekend I had a golf date with Lisa and Sheri. Both Lisa and Sheri are lifelong golfers so I figured I better at least get a 3 wood.  With gift card in hand (Thank you Davis Family) I headed to Golf Galaxy. In my mind I would get a 3 wood that matched my set. I thought I would be in and out of Golf Galaxy in about 15 minutes flat. Because I haven’t used my 4 hybrid and I can only have 14 clubs in my bag, I brought it along to trade in. I also wanted to get a decent sand wedge. No problem. When I told the Sales Associate what I was shopping for he pulled three clubs and started taping them up as he walked me to the demo area. He must of read the look on my face because he said, “ You’re not planning to buy a club without trying it right”?

 

So the great thing about trying out the club is the Sales Associate actually watched me while I hit balls and they have this cool machine that shows accuracy and speed.  He too noticed I was breaking my “V” at contact. So he gave me a drill to work on.  An hour later I had settled on an Adams Golf 3 Wood which I promptly named after the golfer Aaron Badderly. Next he took me to look at balls based on my swing speed. What? Ok, confession. Previously I bought balls based on price and our cuteness. Yes, they make cute balls!

 

So I left Golf Galaxy feeling really ready to play with Lisa and Sheri. So how did I do? Stay tuned to the next blog post to find out!

A Month of Great Golf

October has been full of great golf experiences! First I played the Chris Kirkpatrick Foundation Golf Tourney.  It was a great way to kick off the month and my birthday week.  My foursome consisted of Ginny, Sue and Tony. Ginny and Sue and I have been playing together for quite a while. Poor Tony had no idea what he got himself into but in the end he had fun.

 

There were many cool elements to this tournament. Many restaurants came out and did sampling at various holes. There was a hair salon that had you hula hoop for vodka shots. And then there was “Nerves of Steel.” This was a group of entertainers that tried to rattle you as you teed off. They tried to be distracting but they had never met Sue and I. I think in the end we rattled them! Also Medicus Golf was out there letting you try their new Overspin Putter. If you’re in the market for a new putter I suggest you check it out. And if you’re in the market to buy, you can save 10% by using coupon code CKF10210. Check them out at www.medicusoverspin.com.

 

My second tourney was EWGA Women Playing for T.I.M.E at Reunion Golf. This tourney was a “PINK” event in support of Breast Cancer awareness. My foursome consisted of Merrily, Debbie and Ginny.  We had a great time even though we came in last place! Clearly we didn’t buy enough mulligans! Who knew there was a strategy to playing tournament golf.

 

In between my golf tournaments I played with my cousin Kiilu at Orange County National. I made the misfortune of talking lots of trash before our game which seemingly motivated Kiilu to bring his “A” game. I didn’t mind eating crow. It was a beautiful day and he gave great tips.

 

I also had a chance to catch up with my dear friend Billy. We played at Hunters Creek. A great course for long hitters. We really had fun and Billy was impressed on how far my skills have come in such a short time. I had an awesome day!

 

Lastly, I closed out the month playing the 2nd Annual Leads and Links tournament sponsored by the Central Florida National Black MBA Association. This tournament was at Celebration Golf. I played with Roberto, Mike and Mark. It was the first time we met even though we all work at the same company. This tournament was also a best ball scramble. I quickly found my role in this tournament. I was the long hitter from the forward tees. Whoo hoo!

 

Yes, October was full of great golf, fellowship and fun! I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings!

Ryder Cup Lite

October means tournament time! I figure while Team USA is in Wales taking the Ryder Cup, I too will enter in some tournaments stateside. Ok, so maybe not so much competitive in nature but in spirit.

 

The first tournament is the Inaugural Chris Kirkpatrick Foundation Golf Tournament. Chris Kirkpatrick is a member of the internationally known, award winning boy band *NSYNC. The Chris Kirkpatrick Foundation (CFK)has been established to enhance the lives of underprivileged children throughout the United States. Their focus is creating life changing opportunities geared toward enhancing the lives of children thru health care, educational and developmental programs.

 

The second tournament is the Executive Women’s Golf Association – Orlando 2010 Charity Golf Event. All proceeds will directly benefit Women Playing For T.I.M.E. (Technology, Immediate diagnosis, Mammography and Education), whose mission is to partner with M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando to defeat cancer as it affects women and their families and friends.

 

Both are very worthy organizations and great opportunities to have fun while playing golf. Emphasis on fun because I’m not sure about the game I’ll be bringing. Last post I was ready, so I thought, to get golf fit. I’m going to have to take a mulligan on that one. The truth is, although my head was ready, my body and spirit didn’t co-sign.

 

I’m slowly getting my body and spirit in agreement with my head. I’ve started working out but nowhere to the level I need. I am confident I’ll get there. ..eventually!

 

Wonder how much of my game I’ll be bringing? I’ll be tweeting my progress on the course so follow me @playforwardtees.

Getting Golf Fit

Originally Posted August 2010

Recently I was having some medical issues and I sought out two professionals. My masseuse, Oscar, and my Doctor. Interestingly enough they both gave me the same word of caution, I need to take better care of myself. Whoa… wait a minute, granted, I realize I have regained my appetite for life and the summer of fun has caused me to pack on some pounds but hey….

 

Oops, turns out my extra weight wasn’t what they were talking about. I have been an athlete the majority of my life and while my inner age is 25, my physical age, is well, uummm, not! Both Oscar and my doctor both lectured me on stretching, eating well, and taking my vitamins. Both warned that gone are the days of just getting up and exercising. Whatttt???? Ugh!

 

So I’ve embarked on what I’m calling “Getting Golf Fit.” Getting Golf Fit is not about losing weight. It’s about getting fit enough to continue playing this game I love. Fit includes: increasing flexibility, arm, core, leg and mental strength.

 

So how am I going about Getting Golf Fit? Well, for right now I’m trying to make sure I am doing cardio consistently to get off the summer of fun inner tube that is circling my body! LOL! Ok, it’s not that bad but I do have a little extra pack to my 6 pack. Andia Winslow, professional golfer, is sharing some of her fitness routines online. So if you want to join me in getting fit check out Andia at www.youtube.com/user/ADUB365 .

 

Mentally, I’ve identified two spiritual, motivational guides, Joel Osteen and Bishop Vashti McKenzie. I subscribe to Bishop McKenzie’s daily audio email “Wake Up Call” and I’m currently listening to Pastor Osteen’s audio devotional “Take 10” Getting Your Life Back On Track. After listening to the morning inspiration, I then take time to journal.

 

Right now, I’ve given myself a preliminary date of Oct. 1 to complete phase 1 of Getting Golf Fit. If you have any tips please share them in the comments section. I’ll be sharing my progress on Twitter @playforwardtees, feel free to follow me and see how I’m doing. Also, I wouldn’t mind some words of encouragement 😉

I’m not getting older, I’m getting better!

 

 

Slaying Monsters…Real and Imaginary

Originally posted August 2010

My Fairy Golf Father sponsored me in The Summer Groove Golf Tournament at the Doral Resort and Spa, hosted by Alonzo Mourning and Dwyane Wade.  The tournament was 3 days after the announcement that King James (LeBron) would be joining the Miami Heat. So my tournament debut at an already popular event has now turned into a media feeding frenzy.  Ughh…

 

Admittedly, I was so wrapped up in my workload that I didn’t really get a chance to think about the tournament, that is, until that morning.  As I was stuck in traffic on my way to Doral, it hit me that not only was I making my debut after months of trash talking, but I would be playing on a PGA course.  And knowing my Fairy Golf Father, the way I do, I suspected I would be on the famed Blue Monster.

 

The Blue Monster features long fairways, undulating green, a deep Bermuda rough and a unique assortment of water hazards. The famous 18th hole, with its signature fountain, was ranked by GOLF Magazine as one of the Top 100 Holes in the World. 5,392 yards total from the Forward Tees.

 

Suddenly, the apple I was eating was making me sick. What was I doing? Who do I think I am? Really, The Blue Monster so early in my golf career? I could still turn around and save face. I just need to let my Fairy Golf Father know…I’m not coming.  He’ll understand.  Ok, so he didn’t understand the not coming part, but he did understand that I needed just a little encouragement.

 

From the moment I arrived at Doral, peace falls over me. Both the Doral staff and the Summer Groove staff were so welcoming. Ok, as many times as I have volunteered at event, I’ve never been in the “check- in” room. Also known as golf stuff heaven! It is in this room that I go from table to table choosing my hat, NIKE glove, polo shirt, golf balls, etc. I’m dizzy with excitement and then I see it. The wall of NIKE golf shoes! Oh my…I had to sit, catch my breath and say THANK YOU to my FGF for making me get at least this far! Alas, those shoes would not be worn today, as I brought my shoes styled by celebrity stylist Un Cutt!

 

Ok, so I knew my shoes were hot…but wow!  I start to put on my shoes and I’m getting feedback from all corners of the room. Uh oh…ok, so I’ve officially brought attention to myself. Men are lining up to check out the shoes. I had no idea…eek…great, now they think I’m a golfer.

 

So I head out of the land of free golf stuff and head to find my foursome.  Our foursome turns out more like six-some. I joined Rahime, Victor, Henry and Craig. Rahime and I are good friends who have known each other since his days at Georgetown with Alonzo. Our 6-some is rounded out with Trey, Alonzo’s teenage son.  It’s a scramble, best ball format, so it’s all good and the pressure is not so bad.

 

We teed off at 18. Just for the novelty of it, I’m playing with a pink ball. I tee it up, take a breath and let it rip. Right down the middle of the fairway. We don’t play my first ball-that honor goes to Craig. But we played my second shot and ended up making par.

 

Despite several rain delays, (why did I get my hair done?) we had the best time. At various holes, there are the top restaurants in Miami along with adult beverage and ice cream carts. All free…so needless to say, a I got more and more loose as we the day got longer.

 

On the 9th hole, you can donate $25 to beat Alonzo closest to the pin for an autographed basketball. Unfortunately for me, the restaurant Prime 112 is at this hole cooking up their world famous fried Oreos. I donate $25 and go to order my fried Oreos. All of sudden, people are screaming my name. It’s my time, but my Oreos aren’t done.  Crap, needless to say, my ball went in the water, and the oreos were mouth watering! However, I did beat Alonzo in our private best customized shoe contest! He had no idea I was coming that hard core!

 

I was pleasantly surprised how many times we played my ball! I was playing very well, extremely well.  It helped that Henry and Victor are excellent players and even better teachers. Watching and playing with Trey was such a joy. He is growing into such a fine young gentleman. What an AMAZING day.

 

As I pulled away from Doral, I can’t believe I almost turned around. I almost missed out on an AMAZING day of golf, friendship, good food and drinks, all for a great cause.

 

Even though the imaginary monsters don’t live under my bed anymore, I’m glad I have friends who slay them for me wherever they turn up!

The Heat Is On!

Originally posted July 2010

This week I will make my debut in my first Tournament! I’m excited and nervous.  I just hope the others in my foursome are kind and understanding! I am looking forward to playing a challenging course, making friends, and learning more about the game.

 

Admittedly, I thought by now I’d be 10 pounds lighter, 5 pounds in muscle stronger and my game a little better. The reason I’m not, is that life got in the way. But it’s all good because I was living life.

 

I took some time to go to Costa Rica with a friend. We basked in God’s beauty, ate great food, went zip lining, horseback riding and white water rafting. We took the time to sit on the balcony and watch a volcano erupt, monkeys and iguanas  go about their day, all within reach (sometimes, too much in reach). I got a lot of reading done on the beach and just relaxed. I followed that trip with a business trip to New Orleans. More good food, company and I watched kids of all ages experience magic! So I can’t be upset that I didn’t reach my goal. Because I gained something better, peace and joy.

 

I did get in 2 rounds of golf last week. First, with the league at Disney’s Palm and then a round at Orange County National. I had good rounds and was able to tweak my game.

 

I also managed to get some golf shopping in. I scored two skorts and 1 pair of shorts at Tail Activewear, all for $42! I also found some pants at the Izod store that I will wear at the tournament.

 

Un Cutt, a celebrity sneaker designer, painted my shoes and they rock (picture to come) so at the very minimum I will look the part. To top off the outfit, I have a Miami Heat ball marker, it’s my way of honoring the hosts of the tournament, Alonzo Mourning and Dwyane Wade.

 

It’s always a little scary to do something new, but that’s what life is all about. Getting out there and taking risks and the bonus that in the end you end up having fun!

Being In the Moment

As a spectator, the allure of going to golf tournaments was the fact you can’t take electronic devices on the course. No cell phone, blackberry, or pagers! Complete silence. There I was on a beautiful landscaped course, often with shared with wildlife, with no outside intrusions. Even the gallery has to be quiet and still at tee shots, mid shots and putts. There in the middle of everything was tranquility.
Playing golf requires being still. Clearing your mind and focusing on your stance, posture, grip and alignment. Approaching the green requires strategy. What is the terrain, are there any hills, sand traps or bunkers? Yes, theoretically you’re playing against a human a opponent but your true competition is the course itself.
In the beginning, clearing my mind was a huge challenge. I was always thinking about what I needed to do after I left the course. I was not in the moment and it was reflected in my shot. Golf is about technique. Getting up to the tee box you have to concentrate on the checklist. Stance, posture, grip, alignment, and club selection, check! But if you don’t clear your mind there is something you’ll miss on the checklist. On your second shot, checklist again. And lastly when putting, checklist again. To be successful you have to be in the moment.
Golf is a game cemented in manners and honor. When you’re playing it is imperative that you don’t stand where you will distract the hitter. When you have the furthest shot out, you go first. When you’re putting or checking the green, you can’t step in the line of the other players putt. You can’t cast a shadow over the other persons’ ball. While putting, someone will attend to the pin (remove the flag from the hole-to increase your chance of getting in the hole). On the next tee shot, the person who had the lowest score on the hole previous has the honor of hitting first. Yes, back in the day, it was created to be a “gentlemen’s” game.
Playing golf teaches you patience, strategy, focus, manners, being still and most importantly, being in the moment. All skills that will serve you well off the course too.

Titanium Magnolias

Thanks to Yvonne I participated in a drop in league. I played with her, Beth and Karen. We played Magnolia which is the home of the Children’s Miracle Network Classic on the fall tour of the PGA Tour. Magnolia is a beautiful course, full of nature. We saw about 6 dear, a gator and wild turkeys.
The league gathers on Wednesday’s after work, it’s a 9-hole play with a scramble format. To best describe the scramble format I found the following definition online. “In a scramble, each player tees off on each hole. The best of the tee shots is selected and all players play their second shots from that spot. The better of the second shots is determined, and then all play their third shots from that spot, and so on until the ball is holed. “
Yvonne is a beginner golfer, having just participated in the 4 week clinic where we met; Karen has been playing a while and is very consistent; Beth has been playing off and on for some time but as decided to play more. Yvonne has a great short game, Karen hits them straight, and Beth hits them straight but is hoping to get more distance. I’m more of the risk taker. I have great distance but not consistent with keeping it straight. Magnolia is a long course; I was like a kid in a candy store until I kept losing my candy (balls that went really far and really, really right). I did finally hit one straight about 200 yards.
The scramble format is great opportunity to play and learn at the same time. Because you’re playing the best ball, it builds comrade. You want everyone to hit well because that’s the next spot you’ll be hitting from. We found ourselves coaching and encouraging each other.
Because this format is casual I suggest that you video each other so that you can review your swing technique. Beth and I both forgot to bring our grip coach. A missed opportunity, that won’t happen again.
We had a great time on the course. Sure we were 35 minutes behind pace, we were the last ones in and it was dark. None of this mattered because we had a great time. Oh yeah, we actually made par on a couple holes! Bonus!

Put Up or Shut Up!

Whether you’re a professional athlete or a weekend warrior, trash talking is a part of the game. The downside to trash talking is it doesn’t always reflect the current reality but hey minor detail. If there was an Olympic category for trash talking, I would be a gold medalist, but at some point you have to put up or shut up.
My put up or shut up moment is about to be upon me. My Fairy Golf Father has offered me a spot in the kick off golf charity golf tournament of Zo’s Summer Groove. For those who don’t know, Zo’s Summer Groove is a hosted by NBA Champions Alonzo Mourning and Dwyane Wade , July 14-18, 2010, The Groove is a five-day weekend fundraising event that has something for everyone: golf, comedy, concert, benefit dinner, youth summit, youth basketball clinic and sports conference, a free block party, an all-star basketball game and numerous exclusive functions. Now in its 14th year, The Groove has raised more than $7 million for local South Florida programs and initiatives supported by Alonzo Mourning Charities and Wade’s World Foundation. Players in the golf tournament are a who’s who of Miami sports, celebrities and business owners. My trash talking mound has grown to the size of Mt. Everest.
Now the reality, again minor detail, is that I haven’t played or practiced in a week. Now that doesn’t mean I didn’t think about golf. I recently bought a Motorola Devour, a smart phone that is smarter than me. The upside of this phone is access to great apps. I recently downloaded (for free) a shot tracker, a golf GPS and a countdown widget. The widget is now my nemesis. I plugged in the date for “The Groove” and everyday this widget tells me how many days away I am. Ugh.
Downloading apps isn’t all I did. Of course I went shopping. I scored a cute pair of shoes ($20), a blinged out ball marker ($15), a mint green golf shirt ($13) to match aforementioned shoes, and a black/white golf shirt ($1.50) to match the ball marker. By the way, the cost of the golf shirt, $1.50, is not a typo. 2 weeks ago I joined IZOD rewards. Just for joining they sent me a $10 gift certificate. When I went in the store the shirt was %60 off plus I had a %20 coupon for being a rewards member and then I used the gift certificate. Total = $1.50!
Now I’m firmly rooted in reality and that darn widget is doing the countdown, so I have got to focus on getting my golf skill level up to my trash talking level. The plan is to play at least 9 holes during the week in addition to the weekend. Luckily this week, Sheri has offered to play with me. Sheri is an experienced golfer. My strategy is not to beat her, but to steal some of her technique. The following weeks I’ll play in the EWGA 9 and dines, these are 9 holes played after work and recap at the 19th hole. Also, thanks to Yvonne from the golf clinic, there is a company drop in league that plays 9 holes every Wednesday. Lastly, Coach Stepney as offered to go out on the course with me and critique my play.
There is an opportunity to elevate my game in time. The question is will I put up or shut up? Start your wagers now!

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