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Improving our ‘invitation to golf’ game: steps toward more inclusive rounds of golf (October 7, 2020)
Hey Women of Mass Golf, can I ask you a few questions? How often do you play golf with other women who are outside of your age range? We’ll call it 10 or so years in either direction. How about this question, how often are you playing golf with women who are outside of your club and/or friend circle? Do you play with individuals who are outside of your handicap range? Lower or higher? Think about these for a bit. I could ask several more thought-provoking questions and the majority of us would still end up in a similar place, comfortable with what we have been doing with room for improvement.
So I would say that I am shy about inviting someone who is a much better golfer than me out to play. Am I going to slow them down? Will they have a good time? Will I get nervous and play worse? Time to get over it and just enjoy playing the game. Am I right?
We’ve got plenty of drills to improve your putting and chipping. We’ve got plenty of exercises to improve your physical health. It’s time to start the conversation about improving our social health as a community and what steps we can all make towards more inclusive rounds of golf. We ALL need that sense of belonging and community now more than ever and golf provides that. So let me ask you one final question, what steps are you taking to improve your ‘Invitation to Golf’ game?
Here are a few to start
I played in my first tournament and IT WASN’T THAT SCARY. (SEPTEMBER 9, 2020)
So I went full tilt with trying something new here. I played in my first competitive golf event! But here is the kicker…. it was a team event….with a total stranger….and I had one of my staff members film all 18 holes. It doesn’t get any more uncomfortable than that. Long story short, I made a new friend and am ready to sign up for another event! AND, the Cape Club of Sharon hooked me up with on of their golf cart tricycles for the round. Not going to lie, I felt like the coolest cat out on the course riding that thing.
The Curtis Bowl Scotch Tournament is just as it reads, a Scotch format where teammates alternate shots (click here for more info). At first glance I thought to myself, “that seems like an easy format to get my competitive “career” started”. Well, I was wrong. Scotch is a tough format to play! You don’t want to let your teammate down with a bad shot here and there and I had to hold back a couple of times on just taking a quick tap in putt after I missing my first. As two competitive individuals by nature we took on the challenge and I am so glad we did. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a good partner for these team Tournaments. I completely lucked out getting set up with someone who was really fun and cool and had a fantastic touch around the greens.. something that I lack. She was a good sport throughout and I hope to play with her again in the future.
There are way too many takeaways for this small blog so we captured it in video form. If you haven’t seen it already, check out the teaser for the full episode of a little series we are going to call “Playing Through”. The hope is to film more of these videos from a player’s perspective in the future. In hindsight I am not sure why I thought it would be fun to watch myself play golf on camera because it definitely isn’t. But I’m here to get comfortable with being uncomfortable so Game On!
Playing Through Teaser – Full Episode Coming Soon!
DOES ANYONE KNOW WHERE THE WOMEN’S RESTROOM IS? (aUGUST 5, 2020)
After a long car ride, how many times have you briskly walked from the parking lot of a course you have never been to in search of the Pro Shop or at least some entrance of the building that may lead you to the bathroom? Well apparently I really like to hydrate before a round and have experienced this often enough that I felt compelled to blog about it. (Side note: I end up driving quite a distance to play with my friends most of the time because I live no where near them.)
So I had a rather comical experience with trying to find the women’s restroom before a round with friends this season in another New England state. We had booked a twilight tee time at a course we’ve been wanting to play for the first time and I was super excited to get there and experience it for myself after an acquaintance had really hyped it up. Upon arriving at the course, we quickly gathered all of our things and headed down a path leading towards a clubhouse that looked dark and empty which did not phase us due to the fact that we are still in a pandemic. Onward we went passing by a putting green with a few men warming up, then down towards an area that had some Adirondack chairs which was the presumed 19th hole as there were several more men enjoying a drink in excited conversation. We found an area to drop bags near the back side of the building where there were two doors, one was for the tiny Pro Shop and the other was up a set of stairs into the main building. I promptly dropped my bag off and began my adventure to find the women’s restroom.
Into the dark clubhouse I went and in an empty area with one bar and a few tables there were three men sitting at a table in the back corner of the room turning their heads to only visually acknowledge that I had just walked in and went right back to their own conversation. I started to walk around a bit and there were a set of stairs with a sign for the “Men’s Locker Room” and some double swinging doors for the kitchen. With no other option, I made my way back towards the men who seemed to be having their own little meeting and asked if they knew where the Women’s Restroom was. The three of them looked at each other for a bit and then one of them said, “Oh! I think I know. Go up the stairs and take a right down the hallway. I think it is the door at the end”. Thanking them, I made my way cautiously up the stairs that were labeled “Men’s Locker Room” and sure enough at the top of the stairs to the left was a door indicating so. I took a right and made my way to the only other door up there that had no sign and opened it up to find a pool table and a bar as well as what looked like a continuation of the Men’s Locker Room. Great! First failed attempt.
I left the building after thanking the men and letting them know there was no women’s restroom up there, they didn’t seem to care but I wanted to make sure that they didn’t direct any more women up there in the future. On my way down the stairs I ran into a young man that looked like he worked there and asked for some direction. He provided me with the same exact directions as the men inside! I told him that it looked like a Men’s Lounge and he blinked at me at first and said “Ohhh you are right! That is the other side of the Men’s Locker Room. Sorry I just work in the cart barn.” ….. I shouldn’t have polished off that bottle of water prior to the round.
I’ll spare you the details, as always, of what seemed like a comedy routine of being the only visible female on the property that day and no man knowing where the women’s restroom was. Honestly, it was like an Abbott and Costello “Who’s on First” routine. So after asking several other men to no avail, I’m not exaggerating on this one I honestly asked a lot of them including the young man working in the Pro Shop and no one had any idea. I was considering jumping in the car and heading down the street to find a McDonald’s. I eventually decided to just go through the front doors that had an “Entrance Closed” sign on it and made my way down a few back hallways to find one unisex bathroom. Mission accomplished. I’m a pretty easy going person so we laughed about it down the first fairway and proceeded to enjoy the round of golf that was well worth the running around and bit of frustration.
I know I’m not the first woman who has experienced something similar to this and I won’t be the last so lets work to positively change the situation. Are the restrooms clearly marked at the course where you belong or where you frequent? And most importantly, do the employees at the course know how to properly direct people?
This may sound a bit awkward at first but hear me out – I would like to play golf with more strangers. Strangers you ask? Yes. Exactly. I would like to get more comfortable with playing a round of golf with strangers and by virtue helping myself and the stranger become more comfortable playing with someone we do not know in the future. Confusing, right? This little philosophy is something that I believe many already embrace but lets turn it up a notch and start getting more people on this level of thinking. Golf is such a wonderful sport that brings so many different kinds of people together and too many times have I seen someone get upset over being paired with people they don’t know for varying reasons. I’ve certainly experienced this before where someone is clearly not overjoyed about being paired with me and whoever I am with. Think about it. Is this scenario familiar to you and which side of it have you been on?
Well. Turns out that after some serious reflection on all this, there have been very few occasions that a stranger has “ruined” a round of golf for me or made the experience a little bit less enjoyable or uncomfortable. I feel pretty fortunate about that because I’ve heard some pretty bad stories. Alas, let’s not give those negative experiences any more space in this little blog of mine and turn the focus over to an awesome experience. This topic all came about because of a recent round of golf that I played with someone I did not know – a stranger by definition. This experience was a combination of all the great things you think about when it comes to playing a great round of golf. She was very friendly and encouraging. We had good conversation. She was passionate about the game and played with confidence. No one felt rushed. The weather was nice. The course was in great shape. I could go on and on but you get where I am going here. It doesn’t take a whole lot to create these types of experiences for those that are around you on the golf course and for those complete strangers that you get paired with.
Let’s all be more welcoming while we are playing the sport that we all love!
Picture this (in my best Sofia Petrillo voice, #goldengirls) you arrive at the tee and slow play has things backed up a bit so you are waiting to tee off. Before you know it, the group behind you is walking off the green and headed your way. The way I respond/react to this is situation is text book every time… cue the nervous tee shot followed by a series of rushed approaches because I do not want to cause further delay. Raise your hand if you are familiar with this kind of scenario because it speaks to you or because you have a friend that reacts like this. Yup, thought so. Here we are with a decently strung together round of golf and now you’ve gone and fudged it up a bit by rushing for no reason at all.
This happened to me recently at a course in Rhode Island (disclaimer: I reside in the Ocean State) thus the reason for this topic being fresh in my mind. It was a beautiful twilight round and we were all smiling having a good time so I didn’t mind that the group in front of us took their time with little care in the world going coast to coast, I wasn’t in a rush at that moment. Fast forward another two minutes and my smile turns into a high alert feeling after hearing the group behind us approach and talk about how it was going to be impossible to finish the nine holes they had paid for at this speed. Well then, sign me up for a triple folks because that is where my game went after hearing that comment. I’ll spare you the details of how I played the hole but I will share with you that even though I am working to get over these momentary blips of nerves in certain scenarios around the course, my partner and friends always do a tremendous job of bringing me back up.
Moral of the story, golf is fun and even better with people that are fun and don’t get nervous when things get backed up on the tee.
Things I’ve learned so far in the COVID-19 era: I enjoy grapefruit flavor, my dogs are getting annoyed by my presence, I could probably use a bigger cutting board, I wish for paper plates on a daily basis, and driving in the car has turned into such a treat. The one thing I did not realize I would miss as much as I do is golf. Where I currently sit, I have already planned out about a week’s worth of golf outfits, and I am more than ready for this sweatpants party to end. (Make no mistake, I love sweatpants and I know you do too, but it’s time to move on.)
I have been getting advice from some of the best golf instructors out there on social media and I have avoided the temptation of embarrassing myself with recording any sort of trick shots in the house. To sum it up, my browsing history says that I am overly enthusiastic about the return to some form of the game this month. The one thing that I am not prepared for is potentially playing alone for the first time.
You read that right, I have yet to play a round of golf by myself. Sure, I’ve had those rounds where I am spraying the ball all over the course and I may as well have been playing by myself with how infrequently I was with my playing partners. But a single 18-hole round of golf on my own is something that I have not experienced. Walking no less. Let me also mention that I am not a weekly golfer, nor am I a bi-weekly golfer. I golf when I can and I enjoy the game very much.
I consider myself to be a very social person and I do like to play golf with other people around, so this concept does feel a bit uncomfortable for me. Some of you may be able to relate to the fact that because I’ve played team sports for the majority of my life and because I’m around people frequently for my job, that doing this activity alone for 4 hours is something that I just have not put much consideration towards. If you asked me last season I would have said a solo round does not interest me as much. If you are asking me right now, I would say, “Tell me the earliest tee time and I’m there.”
I have been told that this will be a life-altering experience. That my first 18-hole solo walk will set me on the path towards enlightenment and complete nirvana. I am learning that golf is that powerful. So what does one do in between shots? Think about the next shot? Listen to music? Talk to yourself? Or maybe you don’t need to over-analyze it and just enjoy the physical and mental exercise of the walk itself. Whatever the experience turns out to be, I’m game for giving it a try.
And so, here we are, on a mini adventure to get comfortable with being uncomfortable this season. Who is ready to take a socially distant walk with me? After my solo round, of course.