Golf Girl's Little Tartan Book: How to Be True to Your Sex and Get the Most from Your Game

Golf Girl's Little Tartan Book: How to Be True to Your Sex and Get the Most from Your Game

by Patricia Hannigan


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Golf blogger Patricia Hannigan has a driving ambition: to get each of her thousands of female followers to play like a girl. That, she insists, is just the way for a woman to excel at golf—and, every bit as important, to have a lot of fun doing so.

A witty and world-wise departure from the vast shelf of oh-so-predictable instructional guides, Golf Girl’s Little Tartan Book doesn’t focus on technique. Instead, it teaches attitude, demonstrating how a gal who’s passionate about golf can use her feminine wiles and womanly style to her distinct advantage on the course. From teeing off (don’t be coy about using those red tees) to getting teed off (don’t be timid about throwing the occasional tantrum), Hannigan entertainingly dispenses advice that’s sure to be useful to any woman intent on securing membership in the “boys’ club” called golf.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781584798293
Publisher: ABRAMS
Publication date: 04/01/2010
Pages: 143
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

Patricia Hannigan’s blog, “Golf Girl’s Diary,” was one of the first golf blogs on the Internet and remains one of the most popular. She has written for Golf Digest, CT Golfer, and a number of golf lifestyle publications and has appeared on Inside Edition and Good Morning America. Her PR firm, Golf Girl Media, counts top professional golfers, golf courses, and golf apparel designers as clients. Hannigan lives in Danbury, Connecticut.

Read an Excerpt


The Mental Game Be Mistress of Your Emotions

GOLF IS A GAME OF SELF-CONTROL. No matter how good you get at the physical stuff — and there's lots to get good at — it's your "inner game" that ultimately matters the most: how centered you are, emotionally. (Watch Sergio Garcia bogey on the first hole of the playoff with Padraig Harrington during the 2007 Open ... and then miss the final putt for birdie on the last hole.)

Which is why girls ultimately wield an advantage in golf over guys: We can hold it together better. We're not consumed from the get-go with illusions of our prowess. We're not laboring under ridiculous expectations. We can actually enjoy ourselves, no matter what our score. For us, golf is truly about the journey, not the destination.

Still, since we're so often playing the game with guys, it's easy to get infected by their competitive anxiety. Golf girls — especially those new to the game — tend to fret about course etiquette and club rules. They're prone to intimidation by men who play fast and loose and by women who won't let a ball go unmarked or a blade of grass get disturbed. They're not sure what to wear, where to tee off, or how to handle being teed off. In short, they're afraid of screwing up, and rather than risk embarrassment or discomfort, they'd just as soon quit.

This section addresses those fears with strategies to help you fend off anxiety, access inner calm, and tap into your innate female advantage.


Ah, the beginning. In golf, as in love, beginnings are optimistic, and full of hope. They're unfettered by negative experiences or bad habits.

The thing is, though — with golf, anyway — the beginning is often too closely followed by the end. More often than in almost any other sport, those who pick up golf wind up dropping it. This premature ending thing is especially common when the beginning golfer is female.

Why is this? Well, there's the time element: eighteen holes > four to five hours. We girls can do that math in our heads in a nanosecond, and here's what it adds up to: I'm just too busy. We are, after all, almost always busier than men. Their day is over the minute they're no longer being paid, whereas we're just starting in on the second shift. So a game that demands a four-hour chunk of leisure time is probably going to remain male-dominated.

And surely you've noticed: Golf culture is male dominated, in a big way. Go to any course and you'll see it. I'm talking about thirty-to-one ratios being totally average. Often it's more like fifty to one. We're just not used to that, even those of us who are bashing through glass ceilings every day. In real life we can't find such a wildly disproportionate ratio, even if we're trying hard to. (Some of us are really looking.) Still: Being the lone female among scores of men in the relaxed, familiar atmosphere of a lounge or club is one thing … and being the lone female in the competitive landscape of a golf course or even a driving range is quite another.

What's a golf girl to do?

First, don't waste precious time fretting about wasting other people's precious time out there on the course. Whomever you're playing with, they were all beginners once, too, and far from resenting you they'll be eager, as all addicts are, to get you hooked. Don't think that, just because you're a newbie and they're all good golfers that you're somehow a burden to them.

Most important, though, don't let self-consciousness cheat you of the chance to experience some moments of pure grace. I'll admit, the first time I went out, I was really worried about embarrassing myself, because the starting tee was right off of a crowded clubhouse deck. There were some foursomes of fearsomely macho men hanging around, and I could feel their eyes boring into me. However, I quickly realized that, despite my lack of skills (and I had absolutely none), golf is a game where you can fake it 'til you make it. When I'd hit a wormburner — one of many awful shots out there that first day — I'd just discreetly pick up my ball and move to where the foursome's best shot landed. Then I'd take my next shot from there. I didn't slow anyone down one bit. And amongst all the slicing drives and short putts, I managed to pull off some brilliant shots. I'd connect with the ball in such a way as to perceive just how incredibly good it would feel to play well. Those moments of grace were what kept me playing, and got me past beginning, and inspired me to go out again and again … and again and again … despite the ever-present gallery of guys waiting to see "what that chick's gonna do."

Sure, you're going to make some really embarrassing shots. I still do. But here's what you'd see if you just lifted your head high: Golf is challenging and vexing enough to make a fool out of anybody, beginners and professionals alike. Just watch Phil Mickelson or Sergio Garcia in a major tournament and you'll see that your worst moment is by no means anything to be ashamed of (and you're not having it in front of millions of television viewers). Play for those few golden shots. Before you know it, those shots won't be so few.


No Dogs or Women Allowed.

For untold decades, this was the sign that hung outside the Royal and Ancient Golf Club house, the sport's most hallowed hall and home to its ruling body outside the U.S. The R & A, which presides over the six courses that comprise St. Andrews, is famously all-male, and has been for its entire 253-year history. But in 2007, for the first time ever, the Old boys decided to let in the young professional women for the Women's British Open. More stunning yet, the Open was held on the Old Course, the most famous of St. Andrews' public layouts. And that awful sign came down.

Pretty remarkable, right? Even if it was for only a week in August, we girls got a room in their clubhouse. Everybody — competitors, caddies, and officials, both men and women (but still no dogs) — got to use the sacred male space during that golden tournament week.

We still have a long way to go, of course. It doesn't take long to bump up against that old "no dogs or women allowed" attitude, even if it isn't posted on a sign. Clubhouses may be "open," but just try calling up the to the pro shop to book a desirable tee time — you'll quickly find they're typically blocked out for the men. This works to intimidate us, which is why the male-female percentages in golf are still skewed wildly … which in turn perpetuates a self-fulfilling sort of segregation.

But when women infiltrate the Old Boys' clubs, even if only for a week, a subtle shift takes place in that male bedrock. We're inclusive by nature, we women: We don't want our "own" room, even if the men have theirs. We like mixed doubles and co-ed foursomes, and open-to-everyone nineteenth holes — and from what I've seen, so do men. When we leave the clubhouse, a certain social electricity leaves with us — and the men miss it.

I'm willing to bet that, as more fun, flirty, and fashionable women take to the fairways and greens, more men will be eager for us to inhabit the inner sanctum of their clubhouse, too. I see this as our mission, actually: not to break down the clubhouse doors, but to induce men to do it for us. I predict, in fact, that the notoriously exclusive Augusta National Golf Club will be inviting women to join its member rolls within five to ten years. Let's make it happen, girls: Take up golf and stick with it!


As a rule, most women get pretty flustered when playing with men. We think — no, we know — they have the advantage, given how much farther they can drive. They're bigger and stronger than we'll ever be. They even putt better, due to the quality and quantity of instruction they receive at a formative age. So even before we get out there on the course with them, we're feeling inadequate, to the point of dreading the whole game.

But ladies: When it comes right down to it, we've got the real edge — because it's mental. In golf as in life, we can triumph over the taller, stronger gender by relying on the fact that men routinely overestimate themselves and underestimate us.

I actually came to understand "the female advantage" when I first started playing with men. Initially, I tried to avoid playing with anybody, venturing out in the chilly months of spring when the courses weren't crowded. But as soon as it warmed up, the men came out in droves, and before long I found myself shoehorned into a testosterone-fueled threesome, dreading my first tee shot. The guys, too, seemed less than enthusiastic to have me along. When I finally walked up to the tee, planted my feet, and drove my ball, the response from my new-found friends was a chorus of "Way to go!" and "Nice shot!" The thing is, it was a completely underwhelming drive. Straight and soaring, but most definitely way short. Meanwhile the boys lamented their own far more impressive efforts. This pattern continued throughout the round and by the time we sank our putts on the eighteenth green, I completely understood the female advantage.

What's frustrating, though, is how many women don't. Why do so many of us give away our power?

Ashley, a graphic designer I sometimes work with, is a good example. Out of the blue she called me up and insisted I meet her, right now, at the driving range. I didn't know her all that well, but since it was a good excuse to go out and hit golf balls, I headed right over. I found her in a bay at the far end of the building.

"Pat, you've got to help me," she pleaded, frantically sweeping at golf balls with her seven iron. Her shots were sputtering left and right along the ground, some hardly getting beyond the tee box. "I know you're into golf, and I need to be able to play well by next Thursday, I mean, really well, because I absolutely need this account."

Ashley, it turned out, was playing golf with the principals of a major ad agency that often awarded wonderfully lucrative projects to designers like herself. She had passed herself off as a very proficient golfer in order to be able to bond with the company honchos. "They're all men," she lamented, "and they're all really big golfers. Can you please help me get good?"

I could not fix her game in eight days, I confessed. But, I assured her, that didn't matter. "You have the female advantage," I said. And then, to prove it to her, I told her about Debbie Dahmer.

Debbie is a scratch golfer. She's won professional tournaments and made aces. She holds three course records in Southern California, probably because her amazingly long drives are matched only by her tremendous energy. And she happens to be tall, blonde, and curvaceous, which explains why, in 2004, Golf Channel's hit TV show The Big Break put the spotlight on her. She's used that attention to organize and host unique charity golf events all over the country.

At each of these events, Debbie sets up a "Beat the Pro" station. Golfers are invited to wager thirty dollars that they can beat the pro by hitting a better shot. If they do, they win a prize, plus "I beat the pro!" bragging rights. As Debbie wryly revealed, "When the pro they have to beat is a woman, most guys will underestimate what she can do and will jump at the chance to bet on their skill."

Needless to say, Debbie has raised a ton of money for charity this way.

"And that's the power of realizing men are their own worst enemies," I told Ashley. "You don't need to blow them away with your golf game, because even a mediocre shot is more than they expect from you. Not that you should ever play down to their expectations," I cautioned. "But by remembering they're focused on their own performance, not yours, you can play with confidence. And if you're confident, it doesn't matter how you play: the confidence is what they'll perceive and remember about you."

Ashley nodded. I think she may have even grasped it, because a couple of weeks later she sent me an email saying she'd gotten the account "thanks to 'the female advantage.'"

Don't underestimate it. You've got the edge; you've just got to use it.


You're bound to hear it at some point: Women who hit from the ladies', or red, tees can't be viewed as legitimate competitors, because they have "an unfair advantage." My husband, for one, thinks it's outrageous that I get to hit off the forward tees and miss a couple of major hazards.

Don't believe it.

For starters, in case you haven't noticed, women are built differently from men. They tend to be smaller, slighter, and longer in the leg than the torso. Even the strongest female golfer — Anika Sorenstam immediately comes to mind — can't keep up, in terms of driving distance, with a guy like, say, Sergio Garcia. Red tees are simply an acknowledgment of this physical difference. They level the playing field.

Personally, I love the red tees. They give me confidence — something women and beginners can't get enough of. They've helped me avoid some terrible gullies, expansive water hazards, and deep roughs. Admittedly, avoiding some of the worst yardage on the course makes golf a completely different game ... one I can really enjoy!

Still, I can understand how a lot of men, and even some women, get worked up about the red tees. I know a golfer who's a trader at Lehman (well, was a trader at Lehman) who insisted on playing off the white tees with the men. She just couldn't enjoy competing with them unless she, too, was shooting from the back of the box. Her score, naturally, wound up being somewhat higher. But before you feel sorry for her, consider this: She got a lot better at her game faster, because she got in a lot more practice. Every hole, she was forced to take an extra shot or two to make the green.

I've noticed, in fact, that amateur female golfers who play off the white tees are generally better than most amateur male players, for the very reason that they've gotten in way more practice. They've learned how to handle pesky ponds and hopeless bunkers, which a lot of recreational male golfers never take the time to master. White-tee women win at the club, if not on the pro circuit.

So now and then, in practice play, I'll hit from the white tees — to work in some extra shots, to work on my driving and fairway shots. But when the strokes count, I'm sticking to the red tees, because it makes me more valuable to the team. That's right: Men will invite me to join their threesome in tournament play for the very reason that I'm allowed to hit from the forward tees and miss some significant hazards. When we're playing Scramble, I'm a huge asset, because in this game, the longest shot from the tee-box acts as the new start point for the other three players to drop their balls and continue playing. With the red-tee advantage, I'm often the lead ball.

And guys — I know you have noticed this — love to win. As long as your red tee lets them take home that trophy, you'll not hear a word about the "unfair advantage" you have. Red tees rock!


At a squelchy spring tournament in Montclair, New Jersey, I caught up with young LPGA star morgan Pressel under an oversize golf umbrella. Play had been on-again/off-again due to the capricious weather, and Morgan, having only just finished a twice-delayed round, looked more like a soggy sailor than the preppy golf girl featured in Ralph Lauren ads.

"The weather was definitely a factor," she admitted when I asked about her several bogies (she had finished a dozen strokes back from the leader). "But you know what's the most distracting thing about playing in rain like this?" she added, sitting forward suddenly in her chair. "Having to look up to par, because neither the fans nor my sponsors want to see the golfer whose personal style they admire looking like a wet rag!"

Take my word for it: Even soaking wet, Morgan looked nothing like a wet rag with her sleek and preppy blonde pony tail tucked neatly into her hat. But her point really resonated: Women are watched in a way that men simply aren't. Knowing, at all times, that we're being judged on our appearance introduces a level of self-consciousness men simply don't have to contend with.

And you don't need legions of fans or sponsors to feel the pressure of being watched. Whether I'm playing a round with friends at the local muni or an important business tournament at an exclusive country club, I know my confidence can be compromised by something as simple as a raised eyebrow or frown from the low-handicap league matron who's focused on my hemline. If I step up to the first tee knowing there's a foursome of aspiring tigers waiting impatiently for their turn to bomb their drives, you bet I'm hoping my skort's not bunched in the back. Yes, that's what I'm thinking as I try like heck to remember, let alone concentrate on, my swing thoughts.


Excerpted from "Golf Girl's Little Tartan Book"
by .
Copyright © 2010 Patricia Hannigan.
Excerpted by permission of Abrams Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

The Mental Game: Be Mistress of Your Emotions,
Get Past Beginner,
Let's All Be More Open-Minded,
Work the Female Advantage,
Revel in Those Red Tees,
Be True to Your Style,
Don't keep Score,
Don't Let the Purists Spoil Your Fun,
Intuit Etiquette,
Throw a Proper Tantrum,
Learn to Laugh at Yourself,
Embrace Distraction,
The Physical Game: Play Like a Girl,
Carry a Big Stick — Just Hold Off Using It,
Get Sticks for Chicks,
Recognize that Nine is Fine,
Play a Par-3,
Get the Right Coach,
Address the Ball with Your Derrière,
Waggle Away,
Love That Left Foot,
Squeeze and Swing,
Practice Like a Girl,
Get Handicapped,
Make Great Escapes,
Play by the Rules (No Gimmes!),
Win by the Rules (No Cheating!),
The Social Game: Revel in Your Femininity,
Sex It Up,
Don't Act Your Age,
Swing with Singles,
Embrace Caddy Candy,
Play with Your Man,
Consider Club Membership,
Play Nine, Then Dine,
Indulge Your Fashion Fetish,
Recover from Mortal Embarrassment,
How I Shaved Five Strokes Off My Game,

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