Thursday, October 17, 2013

Golf Gypsy and Friends

There's just a little grass before the ball reaches the fairway.
One warm windy Friday in October a group of 38 women gathered to meet new friends,  play a fun round of golf at Prairie Dunes in Hutchinson, KS then toast to good friends, good golf, and good food.  The women drove from all corners of the state:  Kansas City, Coffeyville, Liberal, to Hays and points in between,  to play a challenging course, and for some, to relive the memories of watching Julie Inkster, Annika Sorenstam, and Nancy Lopez play Prairie Dunes in the 2002 USGA Women's Championship.

Since it was not a tournament, and because the golf course can be treacherous, we (Peggy, Kathy, and I) suggested that "the Sn8wman" become their friend, their choice.  In fact, we said have fun first, if the score is too high don't write it down or don't add it up.  Just enjoy the moments, the vistas, and the challenges that Perry Maxwell created when he designed the course over 75 years ago.  Players are now given five options for tee boxes.  A shorter distance does NOT equal=easy.  It simply gives the player (man or woman) a better opportunity to find the fairway with a drive rather than the gunch.  Our three favorite words at Prairie Dunes are, "It's in Play."  For an added touch of challenge,  the ladies were asked to keep putts and to turn the scorecards with putts into the pro shop when finished.
The Twins:  Marsha from Topeka n Debbie from Liberal

The pairings were designed to meet new friends; in every foursome there were ladies who had never met or had never played together.  Our handicaps ranged from 2 to 28.   On the first tee we discovered twins in the midst.  Two ladies who had never met were paired together, and then discovered they had identical bags. The laughter continued with these two new friends as they hit their shots, exchanged stories, and compared aches and pains.  By hole six they announced, "We might really be sisters!"     One explained, "I was adopted."  The other quipped, "And my dad played around."  Who knows?  They both share a love of golf,  adventures in life, and storytelling.

Karen and Marlene
As I played Prairie Dunes, my home course, my eyes scanned the horizon to see ladies walking down fairways, hitting in and out of the many bunkers, climbing up or down the sand hills where the prairie grass sometimes grew taller than the women, and slapping their legs or yelling at the sky as a putt slide off the green, not even near the hole.  How fun to hear laughter across the fairway, and more so when they finished 18 windy holes.  I knew that the course could be wicked with the winds blowing 20 mph and gusts up to 25-30 mph.  Learning to judge the wind and deciding if it is a one, two, or three club wind, and then how to hit the ball high enough or low enough to reach the elevated greens, yet not drop short with the wind in your face, is just one of the many experiences that created stories.  "Glad we didn't have to count the chip shots," exhorted one lady.  "I stood there and watched my ball come back to me three different times, and that was just on the fourth hole!"  

What stories must Deb and Babe be sharing?

"My ball rolled off the green on 17 after I marked it, replaced it, and prepared to putt.  I had a side hill, uphill chip coming back to the pen instead of a putt." quipped another woman not to be out done. "Can You Top That Stories" kept us entertained.  As foursomes finished on the 18th green, we gathered at the patio to watch, yell, taunt and tease the often bewildered golfer, our friends.
Mary Lee, Sheila, Alice, Judytease the often bewildered golfer.

Mary Lee, who has played the course before, exclaimed as she walked off 18, "Letty, I four putted."  "There's no shame to that," I calmly replied. At a near screeching pitch she continued,  "But I four putted four times.  I even putted off the green and had to chip back."  As a friend, I could only chuckle.  In my head I knew the frustrations they were dealing with.   That is why I might shot an 80 one day and a 90 the next.

Perry Maxwell, who designed and built Prairie Dunes, envisioned and created smaller greens with hidden nuances, as one of the USGA officials declared.  Many of the greens are contoured with a hogback that runs front to back or splits in a deceiving Y.  The knowing and unknowing golfer is fooled by these breaks.  These greens require exact speed and a good read.  Besides battling the undulating ridges, the golfer must face the false fronts, whipping winds, the dead elephant buried at the front edge of #11 green, and the slippery swells and swales that can suck a ball off the green, like the intimidating hole #8 or #10. Take your pick.
Ann, Debbie, Nancy, Donna smiling on the 18th.
That warm windy fall day came to an end all too soon, but not before we toasted to a winning formula, "Golf +Friends+Food=Fun."  In the next few days, friends posted comments on facebook and sent emails with notes of thanks and funny stories.  One of my favorite stories simply bragged, "I had two birdies, and four pars...Oh, yeah and I lost five balls."  Welcome to Prairie Dunes, and a toast to many more journeys down the links.
Peggy, Jayne, Gail, Patty..smiles tell it all.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks again, Letty, for being one of the organizers of this great outing. I am really glad we played last weekend!