Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Old Friends Lost and Found

One blazing hot Saturday afternoon while relaxing and watching golf on TV, I checked my facebook account, probably during commercial, and found a message asking, "Are you Letty Stapp from Miami, OK who played golf?"  I glanced at her name and immediately responded, "Yes, Yes, Yes!" I screamed excitedly through the Internet, "And you are my long lost friend Vickie Bell from Blackwell."

In a matter of seconds we were chatting back and forth.  At last my fingers were tired of talking and I sent her my phone number.  I had last seen Vickie when she lived in Dodge City and I lived in Greensburg.  We had young children and new lives. I moved to Norman, Ok and now live in Hutchinson, Ks.  She moved to Wichita, then to Phoenix, and is now back in Wichita.   Our children our older than we were when we last met.  Nearly forty minutes passed as we played catch-up with our lives.  At last I asked, "What are your plans for Sunday?  Can we meet in Wichita for lunch?"

Just like the old days, smiling and laughing.
During lunch at YaYa's Bistro she confirmed, in front of my husband, one of my many golf stories.  Yes, she indeed had been hit (indirectly) by lightning on the golf course at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, CO.  We chatted until the noon buffet was closed that Sunday and still have hours of our lives to share.  Even now I'm thinking of all of the stories I can tell about us and our teenage travels as young promising women golfers.

Our connection on facebook?  She's from England!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Golf Gypsy: Rebuilding Confidence

It seems like year after year I push myself to the limits and find ways to injure myself while having fun;  like falling while walking the dog, like straining the piriformis muscle while hitting a shot out of the pond and smashing my club into the bank, like pulling the rotary cuff muscles while swinging hard when my muscles were cold, etc, etc, etc.  This year I outdid myself with surprise "hernia" surgery.  As a result, eight weeks later, I am rested and healthier, but my golf game I've noticed is lacking confidence.  Sure wish I knew where that confidence went while I was recuperating from surgery because the rest of me feels fine.

After six weeks and with the doctor's blessings I headed out to the golf course to play golf and take it easy.  To simplify the instructions I played with my 8 iron, wedges and putter.  Not bad, it was just a lot of shots, and certainly more than I was used to.  The next time when I used the bigger clubs--woods, I discovered that the heel (not heal) and toe method was another problem.  Worst of all my touch and feel around the greens, my strength, my favorite shot in golf, my putting had left me.  Having played several rounds of golf now, I have decided that "my confidence in putting" is lacking.

Nothing has ever stopped me before, so with my brain focused on putting I headed out to the golf course.  After several holes, I discovered that it wasn't only my putting stroke that was on hiatus, so was my focus.  My mind wondered like a piece of paper caught in a wind storm. (I even thought about writing a story about it!)  With a few deep breaths, I was able to figure out my weakness and still enjoy the time.  At one point I was totally swept away with my love of nature as a mother "Eastern King bird" landed on the fairway, and her two babies landed right behind her.  I savored the moment, and knew why I was alone on the golf course.  In the quiet of the fresh air nature can be enjoyed and the spirit refreshed.

Focus and relax those hands, then swing smoothly.  
After nine holes I stopped, put up my clubs, and walked to the putting green to practice; to relax my shoulders, to sing a song, and to let my body relearn the simple stroke. I think I can, I think I can, I know I can.

Footnote:  This story was supposed to automatically post 7/17/12, but it didn't.  So I can now write that I am gaining focus and confidence.  We spent four days playing Red Sky Ranch Golf Course in Beaver Creek, Colorado, and I putted well.  Then over the weekend I played in the Challenge Cup series held at Wichita Country Club and recorded only 27 putts.  I'm back in my groove and am even using my old Ping putter.

Letty Stapp Watt
historian, golfer

Friday, July 13, 2012

Rightly Fear the Unknown (sequel)

Golly life certainly tests our creativity, our patience, and our intelligence when it comes to technology.  The good news is that my blog does not have a virus, or a disease.  The bad news is that I have lost all of my photos that I added with my first "admin" account when I began using Blogger over two years ago and 79 stories later!  Since I did have "ugly unwanted spam" showing up on my blog weekly, the only way to delete it was to delete my first and main account.  Little did we know that by deleting that account ALL of my photos would disappear, too.  So IF you scroll down and around my blog you will notice black spaces where photos should be.

The good news now is that I can reload those pictures;  the bad news is that I have to go back to each and every story, delete the black photos and add ONE by ONE the photos that were there.  My goal is to have my Blog up and colorful once again by Christmas.  I honestly have no idea how long it will take, but I want to do it right.

Please be patient with me as I learn and practice another step in writing, editing, and enjoying life as a creative writer (sounds better than blogger).

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fear of the Unknown--computer savvy I'm not

Looks like I'm going to have to make a computer decision that really scares me.  Wish me luck.  Actually, this is just a test to see if I can post this way, and then be able to delete it.  LinkedIn has been attaching myself to my blog every week and driving me crazy.  The people who have worked with me can't stop it, so it looks like I have to delete my main email address and use a different email address as my main one.  Sure hope this works.  If not, this may be my last post!!!! for literally letty.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mountain Magic

Last year this time we were all basking like lizards on a desert rock with temperatures raging in the hundreds.  Some might prefer that I say,  "baking like steaming hot biscuits or sizzling like hot grease in the scalding temperatures."  Either way we each remember the heat wave of last summer and of the last few weeks.  My body and soul like the heat, and I will not complain when the temperatures soar.   However, even I will admit that a week long golfing trip to Beaver Creek, Colorado last July soothed my soul and calmed the spirits.  The first photo I took and posted on facebook was of the temperature near a ski lift.  My hope is that by sharing this story and posting these pictures we may all refresh ourselves when we think of cooler temperatures and memorable vacations.

We'd driven from Hutchinson to Colorado in two hour shifts.   Even with air conditioning in the Explorer we were four toasty companions driving along waiting like children to see who might catch the first glimpse of the mountain peaks.  My shift was the last drive of the day up the winding mountains, but first we needed to stop for gas and check out the outlet mall near Silverthorne.  Suddenly, the clouds dropped over the mountains and misty cold rains spilled down our dry hot backs.  We ran and giggled from the rain, jumping puddles unsuccessfully, until we were under an awning.  At that moment I knew we were on vacation, the worries and the weight of everyday life were washed away with one brief cold mountain rain.

Even if we hadn't played golf I think I would have been content to sit and absorb the calmness of the village atmosphere or read and look up at the mountains.  

But it was friendship with Tony and Lora and the delight of golf that had brought us to Colorado, plus the fact that Red Sky Ranch offers two outstanding golf courses just 10 miles West of Beaver Creek.  We were up early in the brisk morning air eating a light breakfast and jumping in the car with energized  bodies to greet the challenges of the golf course and the mountains.

Tony and Jack up mountain or down?

Golfers have their own language when it comes to making decisions about where to play the ball and line up a putt.  Suddenly, flat was not not in our vocabulary, but words like side hill uphill, side hill downhill, up mountain, down mountain, off rocks, over trees, along with the binging sounds when our golf balls crashed into the rocks and boulders all came into play and our vocabulary.  However, I must admit there were a few times when just plain exasperation could be heard in our voices with such phrases as, "Am I putting up mountain or down mountain?"  or "No, it can't break that way."  "Would you look at that!"

The golf course designers, Greg Norman and Tom Fazio, must have been devilish in their delight to stump golfers as they carved the golf courses through the mountains.  Lora and I found ourselves gazing at the surrounding beauty from time to time, and laughing at ourselves or our shots.  What else can you do?

Up here "Mountain Magic" really exist, not just in folktales and children's books.   Long tee shots found the fairway and rolled to our next challenge, and then just like magic the next shot went it's errant way off the mountain, never to be found again.  Trees and bushes would reach out and grab our balls in flight like the reach of the mighty gnomes of old--where did they go?    When we'd finally reach a green we were either already humbled and just happy to be there.  Pride and greed took their strokes, a corner cut to short the price was paid or a putt lined up and not struck with authority often taught us that we were lucky that we didn't five putt!  My imagination wondered as often as my golf shots, and I'd catch myself gazing at the formations in the clouds and not focusing on the shot.  Oops! 

At the end of the day we'd return to our loft "to take the edge off" as Tony and Jack called it.  When we were once again mellowed and refreshed, we'd wonder through the village atmosphere of Beaver Creek.  One evening while walking we witnessed this charming scene.  Observing the young girl daring to pull the arrow out of the bear's bottom touched my heart:  for her innocence, her concern, her spirit and boldness;  for the imagination of the artist; and for the pure "magic" of the vacation.  I think God was chuckling when she reached for the arrow, I'm sure I heard his belly laugh as the mountains rumbled above.

Statue near the St. James Hotel in Beaver Creek, Colorado.