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.
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!
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!
You can never be to cool for school when it comes to playing golf. Watch any professional tournament on television and you will hear the commentator talking about pros bringing in certain coaches to help them with their swing or short game prior to the tournament.
I first enrolled in golf pre-school by taking a series of private lessons with PGA Teaching professional Rodney Green. These lessons were sporadic as things in life caused me to constantly postpone the lesson. Several months later, when I decided to self- elevate to Kindergarten, I called PGA Teaching Professional AG Stepney who put together a 2 day golf clinic for me and a couple of my friends. This was an opportunity to get reacquainted with the fundamentals of the game. With this knowledge I was able to go out to the range and practice. I still wasn’t ready or confident to take it the course but going to the range was enough to keep the spark going.
About 6 months after the 2 day clinic I enrolled in a 5 week clinic that EWGA put together at Orange County National Golf Course. I found that the multi-week format really works for me. I got the fundamentals in small doses and had time to practice before the next class. This provided me an opportunity to ask the teacher, in this case PGA Teaching Pro Pat Livingston, questions about areas that needed improvement.
Shortly after that class I took a series of FREE clinics to increase my knowledge even more. Oh yes, I said free! May is PGA Free lessons month. The PGA is committed to golf education and offers free clinics. Go to playgolfamerica.com to find out the free lessons in your area going on right now. Last year, Val and I attended an all day clinic and walked away with a goodie bag that included a Calloway 6 iron. Score! June is American Express Women’s Golf month. So again, courses offer free clinics to women. Last year I scored 3 free clinics!
I recently finished a 4 week women’s clinic at Disney’s Osprey Ridge Golf Course. Seventeen women were enrolled. It was at this clinic that found a neat little gadget called a removable grip trainer. This is a molded grip that fits over your club that helps you align your fingers. Most golf pro shops carry grips that have to molded to your club rendering it a practice club forever. Since I haven’t won the lottery I don’t have a club that I can just give to the cause, so I searched the internet for a removable grip trainer. Beth and I both bought the Grip Coach. It ranges in cost, depending on the site, from $8 -$12 plus shipping. I walk around the house and just randomly pick up the club. I’m amazed how off my grip still is, so this trainer has been a tremendous help.
My short game needs a little help so I purchased a returnable putt machine for $12 at Marshalls and then bought indoor outdoor turf at Lowes for $13. Based on the size of the carpet I bought the same set up ready- made would cost about $60 at a golf pro shop. While I’m watching TV, I practice my putting and grip. I treat it like homework.
If you find you can’t take advantage of the free clinics then I suggest you call your local golf course. A couple of courses have weekly drop in clinics ranging from 1 – 1.5 hours and a price range of $20 -$25. Because they’re drop ins the class size varies. My friend, Marnita, has taken advantage of these clinics and has often found herself in a class of 2! That’s a private lesson at $20! Also check the EWGA local chapter site and the playgolfamerica.com site. You’ll also find family lessons and clinics if you want to get the whole family involved.
Remember, if you want the game to be enjoyable, don’t be too cool for school and do your homework!
You don’t have a Fairy Golf Father and you’re thinking that golf is too expensive to play. Is golf expensive? The answer is Yes and No! Like anything in life, you can either pay full retail or you could shop around and find the same things at a discount.
When I first investigated about playing golf, the major barrier for me was the cost of the clubs. I had only looked for clubs at Golf Pro Shops because I didn’t know where else to look. At that time it was like looking for clothes on Rodeo Drive. Not really in my price range.
One night I was at dinner with my Fairy Golf Father and his wife. He asked what was preventing me from getting serious about playing golf. I responded “I can’t afford the clubs.” He looked at me and waved his wand (ok his fork) and said,” I got you”. I looked at his wife who commanded “say yes and thank you, right now.” And poof my wish for clubs was granted. But what to do now?
What to do now? I have access to clubs but no idea how to buy them. I called on PGA Teaching Professional, A.G. Stepney. Coach Stepney suggested I go to a local golf pro shop and get fitted for clubs. Uh what? So with Coach Stepney by my side, I got fitted for clubs. During the club fitting they measure your arm length and then have you hit a series of balls at a wall with a net. They capture your strength and speed. Turns out I needed men’s clubs, senior shaft. So with that knowledge I then was able to order my Nike clubs from his contact(Fairy God Father’s only requirement). The club fitting at is free and the knowledge you get is golden. With this knowledge you can buy a less than expensive box set from Wal-mart, Target, or used from garage sales or sports equipment re-sale outlets.
While you’re at the pro shop getting fitted, sign up for their loyalty programs. Often they send you coupons or host events that have special sales. I belong to the Golf Galaxy loyalty program and recently took my friend Beth to a Ladies Only event there. Just for being one of the first 50 entrants to the store we received a $10 gift card. Then Beth won the first raffle of another $25 gift card. She bought a Greg Norman skort and a pair of Footjoys (pictured here) both at 50% off. After using her gift card, she only paid about $30.
Looking for golf apparel and you can’t wait for a special event and don’t want to pay full retail? Well, I never want to pay full retail, so here are some tips. Marshall’s and TJ Maxx carry Nike Golf, DKNY Golf and Tommy Hilfiger Golf apparel at 75% off the cost at the pro shops. Golflocker.com and Budgetgolf.com are great sites for discounted golf shoes. Golfnow.com saves you on greens fees and is easy to use. Also, when you find a course you like, join their loyalty programs and/or email database or Facebook page. Courses often have special rates for loyal customers. So golf does not have to be expensive, so if that’s your excuse for not playing, get swinging!
In golf you mark your golf balls before you play. This is so you can identify your ball during the course of play. Some mark their balls with a simple x in their favorite color. I’ve seen others mark with a design and even some golf pros put “instructions” like “breathe” or “focus.”
My journey into golf started with a different type of x. An ex-boss, ex-husband, and ex-boyfriend. In the early 90’s I was a professional intern with the Indiana Pacers. One of my first jobs was to work a charity golf tournament supporting the Indiana Pacers Foundation. My ex-boss, Kathy, is a golfer and she put this tournament together. My role at the tournament was the beverage cart girl. There is no one more popular on the course than the beverage cart girl! That day on the course I was not bit by the playing bug but the business of golf bug. I was astonished to see vendors, coaches and players talking business on the course. I would imagine some of these vendors would have to take months to score an ½ hour meeting with these people and here they were with 4 uninterrupted hours! Since my (ex) husband and I were in the process of post military planning, I suggested he take up golf to network.
When we moved S.C., I enrolled him in an Adult Extension Golf class at the local community college. I didn’t know about clinics at Golf Courses but I do imagine the route we chose was the cheapest! He loved the classes and the game. We bought him used clubs and off he went. At this time I wasn’t interested in playing but I still enjoyed driving the cart and going out to professional tournaments. He did try to get me to come out and play but I felt it was his time to hang with the guys.
Fast forward a decade or so. Tiger Woods is on the scene and golf is exciting and mainstream. I’m divorced and have more time to volunteer for charitable organizations. Alonzo Mourning Charities had recently started hosting tournaments and I enjoyed watching everyone have fun. I was even shocked to see some of my DC guy friends playing golf. I had no idea. So now I’m more interested in playing.
So I take a couple of private lessons with Rodney Green, PGA Teaching Professional, and I’m doing ok. Sure, the swing is different than my usual tennis or softball swing but I believe I kept the cussing to a minimum. I was using rental clubs and determined to make it work. But then the hurricanes hit and I got distracted for a long time.
Then I met a guy. He was obsessed with golf and even more passionate about me playing with him. Ok, togetherness and fun, now we’re talking my language. So now I’m really inspired to play! So with that motivation I started seeking out more lessons and clinics. So while the husband and boyfriend are exes, golf has remained a great partner.
I originally marked my journey into golf with an e(x) but now it bears a signature all my own. Which is why I mark my ball with my initials.
The forward tees are for middle or high handicap women and seniors, and beginners of all stripes. There’s no shame in playing from a forward set of tees if that is appropriate for your game.
I have had so many starts to playing this game. Once going to the driving range some 10 years ago. Then taking a couple of private lessons 5 years ago, a golf clinic the fall of 2009 and then taking a 5-week clinic last May.
Two huge things happened before taking that clinic last May. First, my fairy golf father gifted me some clubs and then I was introduced through my job to EWGA (Executive Women’s Golf Association). The 5-week clinic was the kick I needed and the friendships with the women in the clinic fueled the passion. We made a pact after the clinic to try and play every Sunday. This provided the comfort level needed to go out and just have fun. We play 9 holes because we need time to socialize at the 19th hole!
I constantly hear from women that they want to learn to play but then they don’t. I hope by sharing my stories, you’ll be inspired to grab some friends, some cute outfits, learn to play and join in the fun.