This Peoria resident details her life’s moments—the good and the bad—each month through humor and personal experiences. She has golf on the brain again this month, outlining the sport in women’s terms.
In keeping with the name of this column, you shouldn’t be surprised to find out I had a “moment” last month. I meant to talk a lot more about golf. I have to confess that the lack of information was partly because of my forgetfulness, but mostly because deadline day and golf day were the same. And you know what I chose. So here are some golf tips and some lessons the green can teach you.
Every golfer wants to get a hole-in-one. The occurrence leans toward luck more than skill, as some really good golfers never get to experience one and others have several of them. Whenever you approach a par 3 hole, you know that you have a chance. The day I got mine was a very warm Saturday in July and it was hole #17—with all 97 yards uphill. I was very warm and making my usual excuses for poor play—wondering what club I should use and thinking that my driver wouldn’t even be enough. A friend in my group of four had just purchased an 11 wood golf club and offered it to me to use. I was able to hit the ball toward the hole, but when we got to the green, it was not in sight. I slowly walked up to the hole and saw that I was immediately qualified for 15 seconds of fame. I screamed and we all did the happy dance—what a spectacle that was! I saved the ball and scorecard, and took custody of my friend’s club—I did order her a new one to replace it. I also had to buy everyone in the clubhouse a drink—ouch!—what a high price fame is. And the stars must have been aligned that month of July as two weeks later I entered a tournament and won—in the Senior Division, of course.
One of the reasons that golf is so important in the life of so many is that it is the ultimate individual sport. You are responsible for everything that happens in your game. You are the only one that hits your ball and makes it travel—which often is not where you intended. Golf is also a constant challenge of your abilities and can mirror the challenges in your life—some days everything goes well and some days not. The game can also be a lifesaver in those times when you need the peace and refuge that only the outdoors can bring. And golf is a test of your integrity. For example, your ball ends up in the woods and you find it behind a tree with no chance of a clear shot and no one is watching. If you declare it unplayable, take a penalty and move the ball properly—that is integrity. If you move it so that you can hit it, but do not declare a penalty, you have Bugsmade a choice that only you will know.
For those male golfers who tend to give very little respect to females on the course, here are a couple of interesting facts. Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587) was an avid golfer who coined the term “caddie” by calling her assistants “cadets.” And the famous St. Andrews golf course was also built during her reign, although the first ladies club was not formed there until 1867.
Golf is meant to be enjoyable; it is not all that serious to the average person. Humor springs from unexpected sources on the course—like the time I marked my ball on the green and then promptly walked off without putting. My friends silently thought I was entering the forgetful part of old age. Then I had an entire season of playing the “cataract card”—claiming that I couldn’t see well enough to putt. And there are superstitions. One of my friends will not play out of turn even when told she can. She knows if she misses the putt she has received the proper punishment—skills being superseded or not. It is also an unwritten rule that all errors made by golfers are the sole responsibility of their equipment. Putting clubs in “time-out” is commonplace. Golf terminology is a language in itself and can be confusing to the non-golfer. For instance, chipping is not time to get the nails done again, tees is not when you put on that Victoria’s Secret negligee and good lie is not the weight on your driver’s license.
According to Berkley Consulting, women represent 25 percent of all golfers. They come to golf later in life than men and stay longer. The average age of female golfers is 45 and the median age of avid female golfers is 56. The average score of women golfers is 108, compared to 96 for men, and 56 percent of women golfers work full time. Many women have to quit the sport due to time constraints or family obligations, but many also quit because they had trouble finding someone to play with. All of us female golfers can probably do something about that because golf is a very social activity for women—nothing beats several hours on the golf course with good friends. Take a lesson from Elsie McLean of Chico, California. In April, she got her first hole-in-one—96 yards with a driver—and she turned 102 this year. The stroke of luck came when she was playing with several other “old” friends. How great is that? TPW