June 2018, The Curtis Cup, a competition held every two years between the best women of Great Britain and Ireland against the U.S.
By Caitlin Kelly
If you’d told me a few decades ago I’d be a golfer, I would have laughed. I’d tried it a few times, thanks to golfing boyfriends. But it all looked hard and boring, as so many people feel it is.
But, as someone who’s been sporty my whole life, I figured I’d try it and if I hated it, stop. I needed to learn a challenging new skill and my husband adores golf and works as a photo editor and archivist for the United States Golf Association.
To practice and learn, you can start at a driving range where you buy a bucket of balls and hit and hit and hit and hit, trying to get stronger and more accurate with the entire set of clubs, from the driver — for thwacking the first ball off the tee, with a huge head and long, whippy shaft — to the putter, used to gently guide the ball into the hole.
The range is a great place to watch better golfers as well, to see what they do so right.
I rarely see women there, but am not intimidated.
Playing a course — with rough, thick grass (let alone thick with rain!) — is much different from the range, where you hit off a small, dry mat. This was a tough course, too, with a lot of hills and sloping putting greens where you need to figure out how to putt gently while calculating the curve needed for the ball to plop perfectly into the hole.
This week we played 18 holes — the maximum — at a gorgeous county course, built in 1926, called Mohansic, a few miles up the road from where we live in suburban New York. The clubhouse is built of stone, complete with chimneys, and at the ninth hole and another, there are small stone buildings with toilets and food and drink. It’s all really civilized.
Our tee time (the time you start play, always pre-determined by the course’s starter) was 8:10 a.m., which meant getting up at 6:30, which is really early for me. It was misty and cool, the perfect temperature as the course’s only trees are along the sides of the fairway, so there’s almost no shade.
We got matched up with a lone player, a man we’d never met, who was an excellent golfer and a very nice guy, extremely patient with me. I’ve been playing for about five years, but rarely play a game, and had never played a full 18 holes, (about four hours), only nine.
You have to hustle!
That course is very popular and we could see others hot on our heels. So there’s no time to rest or take a break. There’s a five-minute rule that if you don’t locate your ball and get moving, move! It’s considered really rude to hold up the people behind you.
And since the best golfers both hit great distances and accurately, it’s newer ones like me who get more tired because I don’t hit as far and occasionally not where I want. (I only hit into sand traps, a part of every course, three times.)
By the second hole, it was drizzling non-stop and by the 15th, raining more heavily. We were all soaked to the skin! I don’t like heat and sunshine when working that hard physically so I was delighted to be cool the whole time.
I saw only three other women the entire day, all staff at the course. There are two ladies’ leagues there, requiring three try-out rounds to even be considered. We’ll see!
The next morning….ooohhhhhhh, so so so sore! I think maybe one muscle, somewhere, didn’t hurt.
Can’t wait for the next round!