|The Women's Foursome at Pelican Hill|
A few weeks ago, my boss popped into my office and asked if I had ever gotten into golf.
REWIND: Back in June, some girlfriends had asked me to join them for nine holes of golf for a birthday celebration. I was super excited to take up golf despite my husband’s nay-saying. But, after taking a few lessons, I threw my back out and that was the end of that until the boss man approached me to play on one of Southern California’s premier golf courses.
A female client from the energy industry was trying to put together a foursome of women for a tournament at Pelican Hill Golf Course in Newport and was desperately seeking a fourth. Without any hint of ego, my reply was that I have never played golf and I suck.
Boss man said, “You’ll do just fine.”
However, my golf experience did not particularly start out that way.
Two days before my first “real” golf tournament in which I was to be part of a foursome of complete strangers, I begged my husband to give me some pointers.
With only two hours to spare before a football game, we decided to forgo any of the decent 9-hole courses in our Southern California neighborhood for the sake of expense and time.
It was a blustery morning with intermittent rain showers, so the parking lot at the Manhattan Beach Marriott was completely deserted.
Jason popped into the pro-shop and for $30 my seven-year-old son and I had carte blanche at the junior’s rate on the links. Jason came out with a Foster’s (oil can) beer in hand. Hmm, what was he anticipating?
First, my son has been a regular on the golf course since he was three-years-old. Needless to say, he actually won the game that day but we weren’t really there to keep score. It was all about me actually (attempting) to hit the ball and on a few occasions making contact.
After the first three holes, I did start to get the hang of it but, ultimately, there were more bad swings than good. We only got through about 7 holes before we had to leave for Shane’s football game.
On Sunday evening, I started to get very nervous about the golf tournament the following morning. I slept very poorly and had stress dreams all night long. I awoke early so I could head into work for a few hours before heading out to the links.
While driving to Pelican Hill, I started to break out into a cold sweat and was truly more nervous than I could remember being in quite some time.
I actually arrived a bit early and took my time settling into the locker room and meandering around the breakfast/starting area.
The organizer of my foursome – a client of ours – showed up and wrangled all of us together. She was having a very busy morning working off her Blackberry, so asked me to drive the golf cart. I begrudgingly agreed with heavy dread.
We made it to our first hole in one piece and I retrieved my hybrid from my rented clubs. I kept repeating my mantra: I’m going to do great; I’m going to do great.
So, I got up there and, after a few practice swings and deep breaths, I gave it all I had while trying to keep all Jason’s advice in the forefront of my mind. I was mortified when the ball rolled only about two inches.
Two things happened at that moment: One – the giant hole that I was willing to appear and swallow me up did not; two – I found out some things that were a total deal changer for me that day – we were not keeping score and we were playing best ball. (Best ball is when you play the ball closest to the hole.)
It truly was if a giant weight was lifted off my shoulders and, when the drink cart came by and everyone agreed to imbibe, I nearly wept with gratitude.
I can honestly say that after a Bloody Mary and an Amstel Light, miraculously, I did start to play a bit better.
By the time we reached the 11th hole, which wasn’t the hardest, but certainly was challenging as desert landscaping, which was made to look oh, so real, put a great distance between the tee and the green. Right then and there, I had that one shot that will certainly bring me back to golf again.
The God’s were smiling on me when I hit that ball and it went soaring over the sand dunes and cat tails, only to land on the green. My comrades cheered unceremoniously for me and I was obviously the best ball on that hole (and a few others I may add).
By the time we hit the 13th hole, we finally started catching up with some of the other teams who were all men.
Our female foursome was the first in more than 10 years for this event and the photographer pretty much followed us around all day. We were getting a lot of positive attention but, once we started to bottleneck, it sort of started to unravel.
Since we were starting off on the ladies tees, the guys’ teams weren’t aware that it was our turn and we were completely dissed three times over. Finally, our photographer drove his cart up to where the men were teeing off to let them know it was our turn. (He was also looking for another great photo op so it was actually a self-serving gesture.)
We prepared to tee off and found another team not too far ahead of us on the fairway. One of the gals said we should wait as we don’t want to injure anyone. Innocently and without any malice at all, I said, “You really think one of us could actually hit the ball that far.”
My comrades started to laugh hysterically and claimed me the most honest women they had ever met.
By this time, it was 3pm and a very cold wind was coming off the ocean. The next hole was backed up three or four teams deep. We decided to call it a game and hit the club house for a late lunch.
At the end of the day, I was an expert golf cart driver and only almost toppled the cart once while going up a big hill; but my partner shouted for me to go up the hill at an angle and we escaped any injury.
When we turned in our carts and clubs, I felt absolutely light as a feather. Do I think I am any good at golf? Absolutely not! Did I have fun and will I do it again? Absolutely!
I felt relieved that I had finally gotten that first daunting 18-holes under my belt and lost my golf virginity.