A celebration of the exciting future and explosive growth taking place in women's golf-a powerful mix of hope, perspective, insight and humor for the fastest-growing segment of the game.
About the Author
Mark Victor Hansen is a co-founder of Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Hometown:Santa Barbara, California
Date of Birth:August 19, 1944
Place of Birth:Fort Worth, Texas
Education:B.A. in History, Harvard University, 1966; M.A.T. Program, University of Chicago, 1968; M.Ed., U. of Massachusetts, 1973
Read an Excerpt
Chicken Soup for the Woman Golfer's Soul
Stories about Trailblazing Women Who've Changed the Game Forever
By Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Matthew E. Adams, Patty Aubery
Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2012 Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC
All rights reserved.
IT'S OUR TIME
Theme: The Changing Face of Women's Golf
I go into the locker room and find a corner and just sit there. I try to achieve a peaceful state of nothingness that will carry over onto the golf course. If I can get that feeling of quiet and obliviousness within myself, I feel I can't lose.
No Guys on This Trip Please
Friends are people who help you be more yourself, more the person you are intended to be.
When Allison invited us to her winter pad for a long weekend of golf, my first reaction was, "Are you crazy! Just a bunch of girls? No guys? No hand-holding strolls on a moonlit beach? No dancing under the stars?" I could not imagine it. To me, a tropical getaway spelled romance. Love stuff.
But not wanting to be left out of something that, who knows, might actually turn out to be a good thing, I couldn't say no. And let's face it, these were my friends, my lunch group, my weekly Thursday foursome. I knew I could be replaced, and there was no way I wanted to be left out and then have to hear them go on and on about their next outing.
I didn't want to listen to them rehashing the great golf, dinners at the club, and the fantastic off-season bargains in the pro shop, that cute yellow golf shirt that was half price. I wanted to be part of it. To belong. So I packed a bag and, dragging my clubs in my black canvas travel bag with the tiny little wheels, headed to the airport with the girls.
And you guessed it. We had a great time. Played golf at three different courses, three days in a row; ate fried clams and calamari at a local fish place; laughed ourselves silly over stupid things, our unbridled giddiness no doubt nudged along by pitchers of margaritas; and stayed up late into the night playing vicious, competitive games of Taboo.
We took a couple of lessons at one of the clubs and actually got out to the courses early so we could practice. We played skins for ten cents a hole and bet a dollar on closest to the hole on the par threes. We were relaxed. Happy.
The next year, we couldn't wait to make a date to do it all over again. But we made a major mistake. We talked too much. Our men heard us wax poetic over the condition of the golf courses, the clubby bars. Oh, we were so smug. We even mentioned, barely mentioned, the hot lady pro at one of the clubs. Super swing she had. Great clothes.
"Hey, sounds like a good time," said Allison's husband as we all sat having dinner one night.
"Yeah," said Jimmy. "What do you say we join you on the next trip? We'll have a ball."
"Ah, humm," we all said quietly, thinking.
"Good idea," I said. "But what about your annual Myrtle Beach outing with the guys?"
"What about it?" said Jimmy.
"Isn't it the last weekend in April?"
"That's the date."
"Well, that's a shame," said Allison (she was always a quick study). "That's the same weekend we're going on our trip."
"That's right. Pity you won't be able to join us," I added, wearing my best sad face while making a mental note to add our girlie golf trip to my calendar now that we had a firm date. Oh yeah.
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.
We were golfers.
We were dreamers.
We were pioneers.
In 1950, thirteen of us cofounded the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). I was an enthusiastic twenty-one. The youngest, Marlene Bauer, was an energetic sixteen; the oldest, Babe Zaharias, was an athletic thirty-eight. And we each set out to prove that women could earn a living as touring golf professionals.
During those early years, we placed our faith and our money in the LPGA. All of us tithed 10 percent of our meager winnings into the treasury to supplement funds and keep the organization solvent. We served as our own staff and handled administrative duties: public relations, scouting new tournaments, and writing prize-money checks.
In order to gain a foothold in this male-dominated game, we had to sell ourselves—as well as our tour—and worked hard to promote our tournaments and grow our galleries. We held press conferences, spoke at civic luncheons, and made radio and television appearances. Sports Illustrated even featured us in style shows at the Dallas Civitan and the LPGA Championship in Las Vegas. Decked out in heels and hats, dresses and gloves, we hit the runways to prove that women could be both athletic and feminine. (I always wore a skirt and pearls on the course.)
But our biggest challenge—and best memory maker—was life on the road. It was a far cry from today's tour travel and prize purses. Few of us could afford airfare, so we crisscrossed the country in a string of cars, driving caravan-style. Riding two to a vehicle, we were loaded. Golf bags, shoes, clothes, cosmetics. Everything we needed.
Jackie Pung even brought her two daughters. A few brought their dogs. And Wiffi Smith brought her piano. It nearly filled her motor home, but she viewed it as a necessity: She said it was her favorite training device for strengthening her fingers.
Like a big family, we wiled away the miles, the hours, the days. We sang and we laughed and we squabbled. When we needed to stop, we held cardboard paddles out the window. One indicated food, another gas, and a third meant potty time. When a car broke down—which happened all too frequently—every car stopped. Blowouts were common, and we helped each other change the tires. When we needed counseling or consoling, we helped each other then, too. Someone was always ready with the wisdom and the words.
On the course we were competitors, but on the road we were comrades. Sisters.
Once we hit town, we set to work like the team we were. Our top priorities included a Laundromat, a hairdresser, and a desperately needed practice round. We attended sponsor parties. We met our press commitments. We handled the course setup, pin placements, and pairings ourselves.
And then we played golf. From the men's tees. Our courses measured a staggering 6,250 to 6,950 yards, yet we posted some remarkable scores under some amazing conditions.
Even more remarkable, over the next decade we kindled a flame of interest in women's golf and helped bring it to the forefront of American sports. It took vision and grit and teamwork. It took all of us—plus many others who caught our vision and drive. But we did it.
Because we were golfers.
Because we were dreamers.
Because we were ... friends.
My First "Lady's Day" Golf Outing
I will never forget my first "lady's day" golf outing!
Barbara and I were next-door neighbors with children around the same age; need I say more? We were always looking for something to define ourselves, something besides being just "mothers." We were also concerned with keeping our girlish figures. We were walking partners, but the path we took was becoming old hat; we needed some new scenery.
I noticed an advertisement for lady's golf lessons in our local newspaper, just as warmer weather and its sunshine began to descend on the Midwest.
I loved the sun; spring and summer were my favorite times of the year. Anything I could do to help absorb the sun and give me more exercise was tops on my list. But golfing was something my husband was good at; me—that was another story!
The advertisement for golfing lessons jumped out at me. Perhaps if I took a few lessons I could at least learn how to hit that little white ball off the tee. Maybe I could get good enough to spend time on the course with my husband, perhaps even join other couples in a round of golf.
"Barbara, do you know how to golf?" I asked.
"No," she answered.
"Would you be interested in learning?" I inquired.
That is the conversation that led up to our golf lessons and our first "lady's day" golf outing of the season.
During our lessons we learned the proper stance, swing, and where the fairway and greens were. We also learned where the rough was and that we were not supposed to aim in that direction! We finally learned, occasionally, to hit one of the tiny little white golf balls off the tee. BUT we also learned that when you join the "lady's day" summer league, you have to count every time you swing at the ball in totaling up your score!
I'll never forget the day I discovered that golf balls come in colors besides the generic shade of white. Wow! Blue, pink, and yellow golf balls; I loved the game already!
Our lessons barely behind us, Barbara and I went out for a day of golf. With the rule to count every stroke ingrained in our brains, and being the honest women we were, we took our scorecards along to record every swing.
Because we were taking up golfing as much for exercise as for the sunshine, we opted to pull our golf bags instead of using the golf carts—big mistake!
Now, do you know how many times two inexperienced women can swing a golf club during one round of golf on a nine-hole golf course? Don't ask! Let's just put it this way—when we finished up the last hole and the moon was looming over the horizon, making it nearly impossible to find even a shocking pink golf ball on the green, much less in the rough, my husband was at the clubhouse preparing for an all-out search party!
Barbara and I went on to improve slightly, get lots of sun and exercise, and enjoy the company of other ladies on "lady's day" throughout the summer season. I also joined my husband on the course for several years, until multiple sclerosis took away my ability to walk. It didn't take away my memory, though, or my ability to laugh, as I often do when I remember that first "lady's day" after-dark golf outing!
Out of the Rough
Don't fear the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can do it.
Mom was a newlywed when she first played golf in 1943. Friends invited her and Dad to play a round of eighteen holes. Mom went out to the golf course without hesitation or the first inkling about the game that would become her lifeline.
Mom's passionate pursuit of the game was set in motion when Sergeant Haskell, the golf instructor at Barksdale Air Force Base, told her, "You'll never be a good golfer because you're just too big at the top." His opinion of her stance was that she couldn't reach the ball because of her generous bosom.
Lesson #1: Don't ever tell my mom she can't do something. In response to Sergeant Haskell's prediction, Mom has filled her golf bag, wardrobe, jewelry box, and étagère with prizes she has won on the golf course.
Mom is a natural athlete, and she's competitive. In the 1950s, golf was considered an acceptable sport for women. Golf did not require women to run, bump into each other, or perspire too much. And golf was defined by a strict set of rules, which made it perfect for an officer's wife.
Using the handicap system designed for amateur golfers, Mom was able to play with the best of them. She joined the ladies' golf club at each new billet, and her teammates marveled at her ability to win.
Lesson #2: Don't ever challenge my mom to a golf match. That's because she's hard to beat when there is loot involved. Her golf buddies once said, "All you need to do is put a nickel in front of Judy and watch her go!" She brims with confidence every time she repeats this story.
None of us can imagine how Mom would have dealt with life's disappointments without golf. It provided the right amount of distance between her and the anguish of parenthood caused by five kids.
In fact, golf saved Mom's life when I was born. She gave birth to me in a military Quonset hut in the suffocating heat of Kansas in August. Back at home with two youngsters and a baby, she shut the car door on my two-year-old sister's finger. In shock, Carolyn wailed, "Mommy, you hurt me!" That moment, on top of the postpartum adjustments every mother endures, sent her over the edge. She began to doubt her mothering skills, afraid she might hurt one of us again.
Aunt Mary took the train from Pennsylvania to Kansas to take care of us three girls while Mom got her confidence back.
With Aunt Mary shouldering the burden of child care, Mom was able to get things in perspective. Accidents were bound to happen. But with all of her focus on child rearing, the slightest mishap had seemed like a personal failure. Mom needed something for herself, something where she could control the outcome and nobody got hurt. Mom needed golf.
In golf, Mom found the perfect diversion. It was everything that mothering wasn't. Golf was quiet, composed, and precise. Mothering was noisy, confused, and ambiguous. Golf was clean and orderly. Mothering was messy and chaotic. Golf was played with grown-ups, and mothering was all about kids.
But golf was also expressive. Behind the veneer of polite courtesy was an unspoken tolerance for a full range of human emotions that were unacceptable in all other aspects of military life. Men could hook the ball off the tee and use colorful language in mixed company. Women could smirk and say, "Well, I guess the honors are mine, again," while their opponents seethed. It was the sort of release Mom needed.
It was golf that carried her through the last, tumultuous years of my dad's life as he struggled with Alzheimer's disease. When he began to ask who she was, and he couldn't remember that he had just finished eating breakfast, Mom knew that he couldn't be left at home alone. But the alternatives were unbearable. Mom had promised Dad she wouldn't put him in a nursing home.
I stayed with Dad while Mom played golf on ladies' day. Soon it was clear that five hours a week was not enough to replenish the strength needed for her twenty-four-hour caregiving duties. It was excruciating for Mom to decide to take Dad to a drop-in senior care facility while she took more frequent breaks to maintain her sanity.
Dad died at home three years later. In the church annex, after the funeral service, a woman introduced herself to me as knowing Mom from the golf club. I recognized her name and thanked her for being a friend to Mom these last years. She said, "Oh, she'll be all right. She's a tough bird."
Indeed, Mom has been all right. She has regained the youthful exuberance of so many decades ago. She often plays golf with women my age, who remark afterward, "When I grow up, I want to be just like you, Judy!"
At the golf course, she has deepened her friendships with women who have experienced similar end-of-life issues with their spouses. These relationships are so important to her that she cautions us not to take her away from her friends when she gets to the point of needing care. In fact, her wish for her own demise is to drop dead on the eighteenth green ... after she putts out to win the match, of course.
Lesson #3: Don't ever underestimate the power of golf.
The 150-Yard Memorial
It was a warm summer afternoon at Maple River Country Club. The last day of the beginning women's golf clinic was about to start; seven women would soon be graduating into the scary world of country club golf. The last lesson consisted of playing the first hole in a scramble format while reviewing the protocol, vernacular, and gamesmanship of the sport.
As we ventured down the fairway together, all were beginning to enjoy their experience while their nerves began to settle. As we strolled along, four of the ladies were talking about how they were going to join the "nine-holers" as soon as possible. I noticed that the other three were heading over to the 150-yard marker. Alice Brown, one of the ladies congregated around the marker, waived me over and asked, "Who passed away?" I wasn't sure why she asked the question, nor was I aware of any member who had recently died. I asked Mrs. Brown why she asked and she replied, "This is a very nice memorial, and we were just curious who it was in memory of because we haven't noticed any plaque."
The 150-yard markers at Maple River Country Club consisted of a boulder, some ornamental grasses, flowers, and a small tree. Realizing that she and the others who were paying homage mistakenly thought this 150-yard marker was a memorial, I called the remainder of the class over to offer some clarity. I explained that most golf courses have some type of yardage marker on each hole and from that point to the middle of the green was 150 yards. As they looked on with puzzled faces, I further explained that these markers could be anything from a simple pole to a beautiful gardenlike display similar to the one they were surrounding.
After a few moments of awkward silence, the group all broke into laughter and were relieved that none of their fellow members had recently passed on. Mrs. Brown then brought up an interesting perspective. "Why have a marker from 150 yards away when none of us hit the ball even close to that distance on our best shot?" Good point, Mrs. Brown, good point.
Excerpted from Chicken Soup for the Woman Golfer's Soul by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Matthew E. Adams, Patty Aubery. Copyright © 2012 Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
1. It's Our Time,
2. More Than a Game,
3. A Game for All Generations,
4. Golf Is a Beautiful Walk,
5. Unforgettable Moments,
6. Joy and Sorrow,
7. Tomorrow's Tee Time,
Who Is Jack Canfield?,
Who Is Mark Victor Hansen?,
Who Is Matthew E. Adams?,
Who Is Patty Aubery?,