My Golf Journey – Overcoming my fear of playing with strangers

Golf is Hard

It is common knowledge that golf is hard and anyone who plays the game knows that anxious feeling on the first tee. New or less skilled golfers often describe golf as intimidating and pray they avoid cringe-worthy moments in front of other golfers. And for women golfers add the crap shoot factor of possibly being paired with men who do not hide the fact their round was just ruined by your presence in their foursome. For me the anxiety created from feelings of intimidation often felt overwhelming. And, for years I let my anxiety of playing golf with strangers keep me from enjoying the sport I love.

Source of My Fear

As a young girl I watched golf on television but it never occurred to me that I could play golf because I didn’t know anyone that actually played the game. In my late-twenties I met my ex-husband, a golfer with an eight handicap, and my golf journey began.

My ex-husband went on a business trip to Japan. He was gone for a month so I got clubs and took lessons. Besides teaching me swing basics, the golf pro gave me tips for playing with my husband (e.g., play fast, pick up your ball after your hit your drive and hit your second shot from where your husband’s drive lands) and for my last lesson he took me on the course to teach me golf etiquette.  Above all the pro told me “Don’t be that golfer that plays slow, takes too many swings, or is clueless about what is going on around them.” I knew exactly what he meant because my ex-husband would complain about “that golfer” when he talked about players in his Tuesday night golf league. All the tips were great but the message “don’t be that golfer” was probably not the best thought to put in someone’s head who already had a tendency to care too much about what other people think.

In the beginning I only played with my ex-husband and he was very supportive when we played alone. I played fast, ready golf and I had excellent golf etiquette. However, when we were paired with other golfers, my ex-husband made me feel uncomfortable. On the first tee, he would excessively reassure the other golfers that I wouldn’t slow them down, or he would pick up my ball even if I was not slowing anyone down. I have one clear memory of a golfer whispering to me, “Don’t let your husband pick up your ball. You’re doing fine and not holding us up. Play your own game.” Instead of feeling grateful for his support, I just felt embarrassed. Of course, these experiences sewed the seeds of my fear of playing with strangers.

After my marriage ended, I only played golf with two female friends. My fear kept me from playing golf when my friends were not available. At one point I joined a women’s golf association hoping for the opportunity to play golf in a less intimidating environment. Unfortunately the few times I played, the women in my foursome were seasoned players and not very welcoming. Instead of finding women in the chapter that were more welcoming, I just felt stressed and went back to only playing with my two best friends. Even with my friends, if a stranger joined our group my anxiety went through the roof.

I moved to a new state for a job and did not know anyone. I knew if I wanted to play golf I had to address my fear. I knew “getting out of my head” was part of the solution but telling myself not to worry wasn’t going to cut it.  I needed something tangible to focus on to improve my game which would boost my confidence and hopefully reduce my anxiety. My tangible issue, a reason I felt I could work on, was the lack of distance in my game.

Create and Work a Plan

My plan was simple. (1) Find a good teaching pro and I defined “good” as someone I felt comfortable with and who taught in a way that fit how I learned. (2) Practice what I learned in my lessons. (3) Force myself to play with strangers.

I found a great pro, Mike Havay at Quail Brook Golf Course in Somerset New Jersey. I knew from my first lesson he was a great fit for me because he was honest about the work it would take to meet my goals. As we worked together that first day he explained the first swing change he wanted me to work on in four different ways, after which Mike said to me “you are a very visual learner.” Bingo!

Basically. we had to completely rebuild my swing. I was not offended when Mike described my swing as a “typical beginner women’s swing” (even though I had been playing golf for a number of years). My swing was over-the-top, steep and all arms. My driver and woods went about the same distance (and not very far) because I wasn’t creating any power.

I worked hard at rebuilding my swing. After each lesson with Mike I would sit in my car and put notes into my phone. I would go to the range after work to practice before my next lesson. In the off season I would swing a club in my house. By the end of the second golf season Mike told me it was time for new clubs! I was so excited because I knew that meant my new swing was consistent.

During the time I was rebuilding my swing I joined the local chapter of Executive Women’s Golf Association (EWGA) which was the golf association I had joined but never really participated in while living in Boston. I played in the Tuesday night league and attended a few weekend outings. I also joined the golf club at work and forced myself to play in work golf outings which was very stressful because many of the staff played college golf. Playing in my first work golf outing I was paired with a woman that played from the back tees, hit her drive 230+ yards and had a 0.7 handicap. I hit my drive about 130 yards (with roll) and my handicap was 34. Talk about triggering anxiety!

You would think that after two years I would be completely cured of my fear. I had made great strides! I had no stress playing with golfers I did not know at work or in my EWGA chapter. I even played competitive golf (e.g., EWGA championship events and work championship events). But the reality was I still could not get myself to signup for a tee time as a single.

Every week in my lessons, Mike reassured me that I was a good golfer and I just need to go play with strangers. He said you may get paired with guys that don’t want to play with you but that’s not about you (they’re just jerks) so don’t let them get in your head. He told me to remember every golfer has a bad shot, a bad hole or even a bad day. That’s just golf and no one is judging you. If anything, most golfers just hope they don’t catch a struggling player’s bad mojo and find their own game going south. The only thing golfers hate is the same thing you hate – slow players or players that display bad golf etiquette. After his mental coaching, I took the leap and booked my very first tee time as a single.

Weeks later I was taking a lesson with Mike, two men in a golf cart (making the turn) stopped and said “Hi Catherine! Remember us? We played a few weeks ago.” Then they said to Mike “She’s a lot of fun to play with but don’t make her any better or she’ll beat us!”  They drove off and Mike said to me “In all my years of teaching I have never had any golfers stop and make comments about one of my students. And certainly not male golfers about a female student. You need to realize how big this moment is for you.” I just laughed. Looking back at that moment, I now recognize it was a big deal.

Results

As golfers we always look at our numbers. I track greens in regulation (GIR), putts and other parts of my game to discover areas to improve but how I play (my score) is really the ultimate measure. I typically shoot in the mid-to-low 90s but twice this year I broke 90 (breaking 90 was a goal I set for 2017).  I also set a goal to get my handicap to 18 this golf season and I exceeded that goal (handicap chart below).  I am thrilled with my numbers but overcoming my fear is my greatest result!

My Handicap History 2017

This year, four years after I made my decision to address my fear, I have no anxiety going to the course and playing as a “single” or being paired with men to fill out a  foursome. Sure I have the first tee jitters that most golfers feel but that’s normal. I have bad days and feel a bit embarrassed (and frustrated) when I play poorly but I know all golfers have those feelings when their game leaves them.

The overwhelming anxiety is gone. I feel excited to get to the course. It saddens me that I still have to face the “cold shoulder” when I get paired with some men but I don’t let it get in my head. After a few holes the guys usually get very chatty with me trying to make up for the blatant disdain they displayed on the first tee. And, playing more as a single I have experience more nice guys that like playing with women then men that jump to conclusions about playing with me just because of my gender.

One last important metric – rounds played. The active golf season for where I live is April 1 to October 30 or approximately 30 weeks. In 2013, I only played 12 rounds of golf compared to 2017 in which I have played 40 rounds of golf. My 2017 rounds could be inflated because of the great weather this year – playing golf in November and the handicap season was extended to November 15. The point is, I played!

 

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Mink Meadows Golf Course on Martha’s Vineyard is a Gem!

If you ask most people how many golf courses are on Martha’s Vineyard I think they would say one. And if they could name that course, it would most likely be “Farm Neck” because Presidents of the United States (Obama and Clinton) have played Farm Neck while vacationing on the vineyard.

There are, in fact, four golf courses on Martha’s Vineyard. They are: Farm Neck Golf Course (semi-private), Vineyard Golf Club (private), Edgartown Golf Course (Private), and Mink Meadows (semi-private).

I played Farm Neck last fall and it was a beautiful 18-hole golf course. It was what one would expect from an ocean course —  a challenging course with beautiful views of the ocean, windy on the ocean holes, relief from the wind on inward holes that are tree lined. The course had its fair share of water hazards and bunkers. The post-round 19th hole atmosphere is great with a wonderful bar and restaurant. If you are vacationing on the vineyard and love golf you must play Farm Neck.

So you may be thinking, isn’t this a course review of Mink Meadows? Yes, it is but I wanted to give a comparison with the more well-known course on the island.  So how is Mink Meadows like Farm Neck? Mink Meadows and Farm Neck are both semi-private and the courses are both in beautiful condition and fun to play but that is where the similarity ends.

Mink Meadow is a 9-hole course with two sets of tees (or alternate tees for a back nine that allows you to play a full 18-hole round). There are no water hazards at Mink Meadows and only one ocean view (but it is a beautiful view).

8th Hole Mink Meadlow

View of the Ocean from the green on hole eight at Mink Meadows

Don’t let the 9-hole setup and no water hazards on this course lull you into a state of ease. It is a challenging course! It can be very windy too! If you drive the ball straight you will have an advantage because the fairways are lined with trees or wispy grass. However, if you do find yourself off the fairway, the grass is not too tall (at least not in June) so you could actually find your ball. The bunkers are strategically place and make you think off the tee. The greens are particularly interesting and even a perfect shot will roll off the green if you don’t know the slope. If you have the pleasure of playing with a member, you can soak up local knowledge about the best approach shots/landing spot on the greens when you play the front nine. And then you have that knowledge for the back nine. Or make sure to ask the Golf Pro for a few tips before you tee off. One tip – on the 9th/18th hole everything rolls right (towards the ocean even though you don’t see the ocean).

The first nine holes are perfect for anyone! Expert golfers will enjoy the challenging greens and beginner/intermediate golfers won’t feel overwhelmed because it is a bit shorter than the back nine. And when you play the alternate tees on the back nine you really do feel like you are playing a different set of holes. It was really amazing to me how different the holes felt off the tees. I played two rounds of nine and two rounds of 18 and enjoyed the course more and more each time.

The atmosphere is another plus! It is relaxed and everyone I met was friendly and welcoming. There is a nice practice range at Mink Meadow but there is a distance limit (165 yards) so if you hit your driver a long way, you won’t be using a driver on the practice range.The pro shop has a nice collection of clothing and snacks (for the turn) but there is not a fancy bar or restaurant. Mink Meadows does have a nice porch so you and your friends could buy a soda and snack in the pro shop and sit outside on the porch, rehash your round or watch the golfers on the 9th hole.

So let’s talk fees. The green fee for 18-holes at Farm Neck (in season, between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m.) is $170 (includes cart and range balls). The green fee for 18-holes at Mink Meadow is $100; with “a la carte” fees for cart $18 and small bucket of balls $4.

My recommendation: If you are looking for value (a great course and price), play Mink Meadows. You will have a great time. And if you want a 19th hole “experience” — drive over to Farm Neck after your round and use the bucks you saved on green fees to paid for your meal.

Golf in the Catskills

There is nothing better than meeting friends for a long weekend of golf. As I drove up Route 23 west, to meet my friends in the Catskills, it was raining and I wondered what the weather would hold for us over the next three days. Later that night a beautiful rainbow illuminated the mountain.

Rainbow in Windham NYI saw the rainbow as a good sign because the first course we were playing was the Rainbow Golf Club in Greenville, New York. The other courses we played were Colonial Country Club in Tannerville, New York and Windham Country Club in Windham New York.  One thing is for sure, the golf courses in the Catskills provide beautiful views of the spectacular mountain landscape.

My friends, who are great planners, emailed me a list of golf courses before our trip. I was the one that suggested we play the Rainbow Golf Club because the website had a photo of a beautiful island green. Well, it did have an island green but it certainly was not like the 17th at TPC Sawgrass. The Rainbow Club island green looked beautiful on the website but in reality the water surrounding the hole was cloudy and full of algae (or some green vegetation). Even though the hole was visually disappointing it was still an island green. I am happy to report we all made it over the water. Overall, the Rainbow course was fun and very reasonable in price ($35 w/cart). However, if I rank the courses we played, for me, I would put Rainbow in third place.

Colonial was a 9-hole course. As my friend described it, the course had “lots of moguls” (which seems fitting given the Catskills is famous for ski resorts.) My favorite hole was the 6th, par 3, 134 yards.  It was just a fun hole because it was an elevated tee (and I love elevated tees). We played the hole around six p.m. so it was very beautiful in the gloaming. I would rank Colonial second because of the beautiful views. I really didn’t mind the uneven lies in the fairway (probably because I wasn’t playing that well anyway so I wasn’t concerned about my score.)

6th Hole, Par 3, Colonial

6th Hole, Par 3, Colonial

The Windham Golf Club was the final course of the weekend. The course was a short drive from the Albergo Allegria Bed and Breakfast were we stayed for the weekend. If you go to the Catskills, I highly recommend you stay in Windham.

It was a beautiful day for golf and it was very exciting when we were told the owner of the course recently spend 2 million on improvements. It was a great course for women because if you were striking the ball well you could reach the greens in regulation. That is not always true with a lot of modern courses which can be very long for women. There was only one hole that was strangely long. The 8th hole was a 163 yard par 3 and given that the average women hits her driver in the air 150 yards, it seemed unfair to most women.

The big negative for the Windham was that the course had no signs. Yes, no signs. A well marked course is important to the enjoyment of the game from many reasons, including keeping players moving along because they know where to go and what yardage to play.  And with a course, like Windham, that is in a tourist town it seemed very odd for the course not to have signs. The young man in the Pro shop said the signs were coming but a groundsmen on a tractor told us the “owner doesn’t like the look of signs so he doubts there will ever be signs installed.” We managed to get around fairly well. Also, I guess we were just lucky that various grounds crew were working near by when we had a question on a hole location. The course was in great condition but they really do need to add signs to the holes.

My biggest pet peeve is slow play. My friends and I may be women but we play fast.  At the Windham course we were to tee off before a foursome of men but the scorecards they gave us did not have ladies yardage so one of my friends had to go back to the pro shop (it was the first time I have ever seen a separate scorecard for women).

To make a long story short the men went off the first tee while my friend got scorecards.  We did not mind because they said they played the course all the time. We thought “great, we can follow them since the course has no signs.” By the third hole were we so frustrated because the group in front was painfully slow. We were hitting to within 100 yards of the green and just watching them.  By the fourth hole they asked if we want to play through because “we were only three players.” We gratefully accepted. I am so glad we played through. By the 12th hole, they were two holes behind us. We were enjoying our lunch in the pub room when we saw the group behind us on the 18th green (40 minutes after we finished our round.)  The folks behind them must have been going crazy. If we were behind them the whole time, I might have actually stopped playing and asked for my money back at the pro shop. Here are my questions. Where was the ranger? Why were they allowed to fall so far behind our group? Yes, we played fast but still the group should have not fallen so far behind us. They were certainly playing much longer than what is acceptable for each hole. Anyway, I am thankful we played fast and enjoyed the final round of our golf weekend.

The courses we played would not be considered high-end. All were priced reasonably.  The only time I felt the price of something was too high was Mulligan’s Pub at the Windham country club. A burger was $12 (other burgers were $14 and some entrees went as high as $23.99) and they did not provide free refills on soda or ice tea. My guess, the owner has to recoup the $2 million in improvements somewhere. The food was good but skip the pub and go in town for lunch.

Even with “no signs” and an expensive food, I would rank the Windham course as the top course we played. It gets the top spot because of the fairness of the course for women, the great condition of the course, and the beautiful mountain views. However, if I had been behind the slow group for 18 holes, it might have been the down fall of the course. I hope they add signs and rangers to make sure pace of play does not impact the experience of golfers visiting Windham Country Club.

Perhaps there were other courses in the area that might be more high-end but high-end does not equate to fun. Playing with your best friends on a beautiful day on a course that is challenging but fair is what makes golf fun!

Next stop, North Carolina. Come back to my blog at the end of June to find out where I played!

La Cantera Glof Club, Resort Course – Long for the Ladies

San Antonio, Texas in April. I thought, how lucky can I be to get to go on a business trip (with golf) in April. I packed my bags and left behind the long cold winter of 2014 on the east coast. When I landed in San Antonio, Texas it was in the 50’s — what? The weather channel said mid-70’s to 80’s was normal. I was confident the next day would be better.  Boy, I was wrong. Cold and rainy for the first day of golf on the Palmer Course.

View of Palmer Course Club House from the 1st Hole Tee box.

View of Palmer Course club house and 18th hole from the 1st hole tee box

The starter said the Palmer Course was a hard course but my playing partners and I all felt it wasn’t bad considering it was rainy and cold. We played better than anticipated given it was the first round of the season. At the end of the day, we didn’t have a drink at the 19th hole to talk about how much fun we had during our round of golf. Nope. All anyone wanted to do was go back to their own hotel room and take a hot shower to try and warm their bones.

A few days later it was a bit warmer and The Resort Course, at La Cantera was the site of a 2-person scramble. By now I had a “wicked bad” (for all my New England friends) cold with a fever and sore throat. The morning was still cold by was sunny; and everyone said it would warm-up.

Again, the starter said The Resort Course was a hard course. The PGA Tour played the Texas Open on the Resort Course from 1995 to 2009. At the turn, there are stones engraved with winner’s names from the tournament.

At the Turn, there are a number of large rocks with the winners from the Texas Open

At the turn, Texas Open winner’s name on every large rock – Justin Leonard from 2000

All the women that I played with felt the course was very long for us (even from the forward tees) but it was also a very windy day and a lot of times we were hitting into the wind. I am not the longest hitter off the tee but my second shots and short game fit nicely with my partner, who did hit it long of the tee.

I love the internet today because you can see a whole course, hole by hole. The Resort Course has a good 360 view. There are two holes that I had memorable shots on — Number 5 and number 12. Hole 5 is a 432 Par 5 with a dogleg to the right for the approach shot (or over the trees to the green). My partner said she did not have “the shot in her bag to go over the trees” but I felt I could do it. My pro had shown me how to do that shot last summer. Well, I am proud to say I did it! I grabbed my 4 hybrid, put the ball slightly forward in my stance, a slight forward press in my hands and my swing thought was to swing down on the ball. I watched my ball sail over the trees. When we got to the green (130 yards away) there was my ball. All golfers know it takes just one great shot during a so/so or bad round that makes a golfer want to keep playing. That was the shot of the day for me. I was so excited I forgot to take a photo!

The other fun shot was on the 12th hole, a par 288 yard par 4. The approach shot onto the green is over a hazard. I think the course designer wanted a visual that would intimidate golfers (you know, get in your head — “ugh, I have to carry that stuff?”) Below is the view of the shot I had to make it onto the green. The flag is hard to see but sits just to the right of the trees in front of the bunker on the left.

La Cantera Resort Course, Hole 12,

La Cantera Resort Course, Hole 12, Par 4 – Approach Shot

All my playing partners missed the green (short and in the junk). It really surprised me because they all had great shots until this approach shot. I hit my ball onto the green and was very happy. My partner said that I was “smart” because I went for the shorter distance over the junk by going for the middle-right side of the green. They all went for the flag. Another shot that made me feel good about my game. That’s the trick, think only about your good shots.

We had a fun time and to my surprise my team came in 2nd place in the 2-person scramble, high handicap flight. Did I forget to mention I am a high handicap. It is hard to be a low handicap when you can’t drive the hole in regulation (but I am working on my length.) I learned something about my game in that scramble. I may be a high handicap but I am a great scramble partner because I have a good short game and sometimes hit great approach shots.

The bottom line — La Canter Resort is beautiful, the courses are hard but not so hard that you shouldn’t give them a try if you are in San Antonio.  The yardage on the scorecard is deceiving because the front tees seem to be reasonable.  But what makes it long for ladies is the wind and some of the carries. My only advice – just don’t get my luck and have the weather be cold and rainy because you might come away with another experience — a “wicked bad” cold.

 

Caddie Books – Two Good Reads

This year I had the pleasure of playing a few private courses and had a caddie on my bag.  I was nervous at first but after a few holes it was fun.  Yes, it was nice to have someone else provide valuable information, like when to layup or go for the hole.  It was a treat to have someone rake the bunker and all the other small things they do to make your round enjoyable. What really added to the “fun” was the personalities and story telling of the caddies.  And that made me want to know more about caddies.

I have read two books and both are worth reading if you are an avid golf fan.  The books are very different. The first book is “An American Caddie in St. Andrews” by Oliver Horovitz. The second book is “Loppers: A Caddie’s Twenty-Year Golf Odyssey” by John Dunn.

If I had to recommend just one book, I would tell you to read “Loopers: A Caddie’s Twenty-Year Golf Odysey” because it takes you on a journey to so many famous courses: Augusta, Bandon Dunes, Shinnecock, and St. Andrews.  I really enjoyed the variety of courses and Dunn’s description of the caddie’s life at each place he worked.  Also, Dunn is living a nomads life and there is a underlying struggle he has with the idea that he should get a “real job” and the struggle with his father’s view of his job.  As a woman, I was also surprised by some of the behavior of the caddies. The term “frat boys” is what comes to mind with some of the stories Dunn shares about his life with other caddies.  The book is great at balancing the romantic view we all of have of the caddie life with the realities of being a caddie, and the personality you must have to live the life travailing from course to course.

The book by Oliver Horovitz is also a great read but as the front cover of the book reveals the story is about a young man “Growing Up, Girls, and Looping on the Old Course.”  The best part of the book is the “secrets” revealed about the caddies of St. Andrews. The book takes place in two places —  at Harvard (where Horovitz is a student) and St. Andrews. The chapters at St. Andrews are what I enjoyed most (no surprise, I’m sure). Horovitz also shares his personal story including the time he shares with his Uncle Ken, who lives in the town of St. Andrews. It was a very lovely back story, but I was reading the book to get a peek at the job of a St. Andrews caddie and the old course.  I must admit one of my favorite chapters was about Horovitz caddying for Lydia Hall in a qualifying round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

Both books reveal that there is a pecking order in the caddie shack and it takes a lot of hard work to gain the respect of fellow Loopers.  However, the big difference between the books is that Oliver Horovitz is a student at Harvard and not living the “vagabond” life John Dunn experienced as a caddie. In some ways, Horovitz appears to be living the life of a privilege student just caddying for his summer job.  However, Horovitz, like Dunn, earns the respect of the seasoned caddies (no small feat at St. Andrews) and takes the job seriously.  Horovitz also has a wonderful understanding of the “once in a lifetime experience” playing St. Andrews is for most golfers and wants to make the round the best it can be for the golfer.

Both men have a passion for the sport we all love and reveal that if you are lucky you get to combine your passion with your job. Read both books and you will be exposed to very different roads taken in a very unique career.

The Spirit International – Watch if You Love Amateur Golf

The Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship has been around since 2001 but many people that love golf don’t know about it.  The video below is a nice overview of the championship.

I learned about it because I follow Paige MacKenzie on Twitter and Paige is the captain of the 2013 United States team. Paige is also a former Spirit International competitor.  I watched the last hour of coverage on Thursday and Friday online and really enjoyed it. I wish I could have seen more but it is impossible to watch this type of event during a work week.  You can watch it Saturday (November 2, 2013)  via the live webcast at the Spirit International Website.

There are only four players for each country (20 Countries represented by 2 men and 2 women).  It may be a small field but the golfers are some of the best young players in the world and it is a nice preview of what we can expect to see in the coming years on the professional tours.  Past Spirit International competitors include US stars like Brandt Snedeker and Paula Creamer; as well as international stars such as Jason Day, Charl Schwatzel, Lorena Ochoa, and Ya-Ni Tseng. As they say, the list goes on and on.

The format is interesting because they have multiple competitions which include:

  • International Team- combined best ball of the men’s team and women’s team.
  • Men’s Team- Best ball of two players (four ball stroke play)
  • Women’s Team- Best ball of two players (four ball stroke play)
  • Men’s Individual- Most holes under par.
  • Women’s Individual- Most holes under par.

So you can cheer for your favorite country, men’s team, women’s team, and individuals.  I want the United States and Canada to do well because I have lived in the United States most of my life and feel an allegiance to the US; but I was born in Canada and I have a soft spot for athletes from Canada.  I hope that Brooke Henderson (a young Canadian golfer whose career I follow) does well. I am happy to report that as of the end of the second round Brooke is in first place for the Women’s Individual competition.

The United States is leading the overall competition. Check out the Leaderboard to see the other country standings. And if you can’t watch the live webcast then the next best thing is following the championship updates on twitter @thespiritgolf.

UPDATE (November 3 2013) – USA wins overall and Brooke Henderson wins Women’s Championship.  See all results at the Spirit Website.

“Lydia Ko goes Pro” video gets four stars

It has been many months since my last post because I have had a lot of life changes in the past nine months (no, I did not have a child).  I have moved to a new state for a dream job! As we all know with a new job and a big move other things fall to the wayside.  But now I am more settled in my job and new home; and of course fall is here (so less daylight hours to play golf), which makes it a logical time to focus on my blog.

I wanted to start with something light and fun!  And Lydia Ko’s announcement that she is turning pro is just the ticket!  I read that she decided to release a video rather than do a press conference and sure enough she tweeted out to her followers the link to the video on October 22.  Here is the video for your enjoyment:

I give the video four stars because it is entertaining (Lydia speed golfing) and shows her personality (e.g., she laughs a lot); and it certainly beats a boring press conference video.

I have said in a previous post that I am not a fan of the younger and younger players we see in professional events.  And that a player like Michele Wie is a cautionary tale because she is only 23 and struggles to find her game.  But, Lydia Ko seems to be a very poised and talented young women.  Ko has won a number of professional tournaments and made history winning the CN Canadian Women’s Open in 2012 and 2013. As the press has pointed out, Ko has left over $1 Million in money on the table as an amateur.

Now we just have to wait for the LPGA Commissioner, Mike Whan, to approve her request to waive the rule requiring LPGA professionals to be at least 18 years old.  The waiver is a  “fiat accompli” given the popularity of Ko, the fact she has already won multiple professional events as an amateur, and Whan waived the age requirement for Lexi Thompson after she won an LPGA event.

As a professional, Ko will face a new kind of scrutiny because everyone will be watching to see if she falters under the “pressure” of being a pro. Time and time again a young amateur golfer is hailed as the next “Tiger or Annika” and seems to lose their talent (or maybe free spirit) as a professional.  Only time will tell if Ko is able win as much as a professional as she did as an amateur.

Hopefully, she will have a smooth transition from the “darling of the amateur ranks” to a regular pro on tour. Bottom line, I know I will be watching to see how she plays in her first tournament as a professional.