Golf has always been an important part of my life. My dad gave me a few mismatched clubs when I was eight years old and let me go with him sometimes when he played. He told me he would buy me a set of real clubs the first time I broke 50 for nine holes. I guess he felt safe, because he’d played for several years and never broken 50 before.
It took me a couple of years to win that set of clubs, and I used them all the way through high school and college and for another six or eight years after that. No serious golfer uses the same set of clubs that long, but I couldn’t afford a new set.
I played off and on for the next couple of decades, but it wasn’t until I took a series of lessons from an old high school acquaintance who had become a well-known teaching pro that I really developed my game. I’d always had an almost good game up until that, but I still shot over 80 for 18 holes as often as I shot below.
After those lessons, however, it began to come together. I rarely broke par for 18 holes, but I did settle into the range from about 73 to 77 most of the time. Not bad for a guy in his fifties and sixties. Due to some health problems, I gave the game up before I turned seventy, and I gave all my equipment to First Tee, an organization that helps and encourages underprivileged kids to learn the game.
Ceasing to play has not diminished my interest in the game. I’ve always enjoyed watching golf on TV. For years I just watched the PGA Tour, but about 20 years or so ago I got interested in the LPGA Tour. I found watching the ladies more interesting than the men, and not just to stare at pretty women. I really enjoy watching them play.
A little over a year ago, the LPGA announced a new tournament to be played in the Fort Worth-Dallas Metroplex—The North Texas LPGA Shootout. They needed to find volunteers to work the tournament, and they didn’t have long to put it all together. I volunteered and was assigned to be a marshal, which meant I stood beside one of the greens to be available for crowd control or anything else they needed me for.
At the Pro-Am the day before the tournament, I got to speak to Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel, two of my favorites. I didn’t get to see any of the action except around the green I was assigned to, but it was great just being that close to these ladies.
Four of my favorites: Lexi Thompson, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, and Cristy Kerr
The tournament is back this coming week. This time, my assignment is driving a golf cart. That could entail carrying players and their clubs in from the parking lot or just about anything else. I don’t really know what to expect, but I’m stoked about getting to be there again.
Must be either excited or crazy, because I have to be at Las Colinas Country Club at 5:30 a.m., and it’s an hour’s drive from here. Guess I’ll be getting up before the chickens.
The only bad thing is the scheduling. The DFW Conference is next weekend. I can work the tournament Wednesday through Friday mornings, but I’ll be at the writers’ conference after that.
Maybe next week I can tell you about what golfers I got to be close to.
What things have you done that put you in proximity with a sports star or entertainment personality?
WANA: We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
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This is an interesting volunteer assignment, and I hope you get to visit, however briefly, with some of your favorite female golfers. I think the closest I ever got to a celebrity was at Casa Manana. Howard Keel walked up and down the aisle, and he was so close I could have reached out and grabbed him (I was tempted!).
Unfortunately, we’re told not to speak to any of the players unless they speak to us first. It’s nice to see them in person, though.
I am glad that you are getting this opportunity, David. My similar experience has been through volunteering for the National Figure Skating championships, which have been held in Spokane twice in recent years. One year I worked at a retail booth in the arena, selling figure skating memorabilia, but when I wasn’t working, I got to go in and watch the events. The other time I was a greeter at the airport, welcoming arriving skaters and providing info as needed. I did get to meet Johnny Weir, and saw Brian Orser and others at the airport, as well as watching many skaters perform live. Those times were real highlights for me.
Sorry you didn’t get to watch golf, Sis.