Retirement

April 27, 2011

After retiring in the Fall of 2007, I lived the life of leisure for a little while.  I hung out at home.  D and I traveled to Italy which was awesome!  I was happy to be living a “normal life.”   I spent my days working out.  I took up tennis. I started hiking. I went to the movies.  I volunteered for Big Brothers & Big Sisters.  I traveled some more. But  I quickly discovered that something was missing.  I realized that at 41 years old, I needed to find another passion.  I always thought I’d have kids and retirement would mean being a full-time Mom.  That was not in the cards for me and D.  It’s the one thing I wish I had done differently and my biggest regret.  At almost 45, my time is done so I like I said, I needed to find something.  The question was what?

I decided to start to look for a job.  I got my resume together and sent it to several golf organizations throughout Arizona.  My thought was that I’d like to run tournaments.  I had been playing in golf tournaments since I was 12.  It is what I knew.  I am also a very organized person with a strong attention to detail.  I am a hard worker. What I didn’t have and still don’t is excellent computer skills.  Sure I can surf the internet and write a blog, but when I went to college, we had typewriters!  I quickly realized that while I was dedicating myself to trying to win golf tournaments, the world had learned Excel, Word, Publisher and Outlook.  I also did not network nearly enough during my playing career.  Like I said, I was singularly focused on trying to play good golf.  I thought that when I retired that would be it.  Wrong!!  So after lots of rejections and searching the internet for jobs I was not qualified for, I found something that just might be a fit.  The First Tee of Phoenix was hiring.  I sent my resume, made a follow-up call and got an interview.  It was my first interview ever! (Something friends can not believe but absolutely true.) I started working at The First Tee in September of 2008.

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Hockey

April 19, 2011

I interrupt the story of my life to talk a little hockey. My love of hockey started when the Phoenix Coyotes moved to Arizona in 1996. My husband wanted to get season tickets so we split them three ways that first year. He grew up watching hockey back east and liked the game. He was even at the 1980 Olympic pre-game against the Soviets. (The one USA lost like 8-1) Anyway, I remember going to our 1st pre-season game and thinking “Cool-its a lot like soccer but faster.” The following year we split the season tickets with one other person and in year 3, they were all ours! I was hooked. The Phoenix Coyotes are my team. Right now we are battling the Detroit Red Wings in the playoffs and are down 3-0. I guess that’s why hockey is on my mind.

I never really ice skated growing up. I remember going a couple of times but could never stay on my feet and it was way too cold. I don’t remember following hockey at all. The Washington Capitals were the closest NHL team to Baltimore. We did have the Skipjacks, a minor league team. I had heard of Wayne Gretzky. But that was the extent of my knowledge. My family were basketball fans

D and I at a hockey game this season

and I used to watch basketball every night of the week. I loved the Maryland Terps. I loved Michael Jordan. I loved the Phoenix Suns. Over time, I grew tired of basketball and I haven’t watched a full game all year. My passion was now hockey.

Why hockey? Its fast, its tough. Guys stick up for one another. There is nothing like the elation when a goal is scored and deflation when the opponent scores. There is no I in team in hockey. Guys deflect credit EVERY time they are interviewed. There is a captain and it means something. There is a guy standing in the net willing to stop a puck traveling 100mph. There is another guy willing to block that same puck by laying out on the ice. There is beer and soft pretzel rods and macho nachos. There is high fiving with strangers and getting to know the season ticket holders who sit next to you 41 nights a year.

So who knows what might happen tomorrow night at the game? We may get beat again, we may win and send it to game 5 in Detroit. We may come back and win 4 straight for the biggest comeback in sports. What I do know, is that the ride I have enjoyed for 15 years might be over tomorrow night and that makes me really sad. There is talk of moving the team back to Winnipeg. Hockey in the desert is a tough sell. We have been through a few different owners that have lost a lot of money. We thought it was all resolved but it’s dragged on and now they are a lot of rumors. But for those of us who love the Coyotes, it has been an awesome ride. Please stay, work this deal out. Hockey can work in the desert and this team and its fans deserve a good owner who is willing to try to win a Stanley Cup!

LPGA-Part 2

April 18, 2011

Once I started taking lessons from DeDe, I had a real direction in my game. I was happy on and off of the golf course. I moved to Arizona full-time in 1992 and was married in November of 1993. Life was good. There were good and bad times on the course. But for the most part I was happy and making a nice living. I got myself into contention several times each year. I was able to travel to places I’d only dreamt about and really enjoyed seeing new cultures in far away lands. I worked hard on my game. My main goal was to never have the regret that I hadn’t put in the effort.

Tragedy struck and my teacher DeDe Owens died suddenly of a heart attack in May of 1999. Ironically, this was my best year financially ever on tour. I am convinced I had an angel sitting on my shoulders throughout that year. I made 24/28 cuts, had 6 top ten finishes and finished 2nd 3 times including a playoff loss to Annika Sorenstam where I played 21 holes, had 21 pars and was beaten on the 3rd hole extra hole.

I never played as well for some reason after 1999. I still had some success here and there but it was fewer and farther in between. I had a new teacher named Gale Peterson who was great but somehow I just never played as well. I was way too tough on myself and just didn’t have the deep-down belief in myself that you need to be the best. The tour was changing as well. Technology had made hitting the ball a long way more and more important and I was always a shorter hitter. So I struggled on some courses and got away from doing what I did best which was to just get the ball in the hole no matter what! I was working just as hard but not getting results so mid-way through the 2006 season, I started to think about retirement. Looking back, maybe I should have retired then and gone out with some better memories. But I wanted to give it one last shot. I worked really hard mentally and physically before the 2007 season, but it was not meant to be and I had my worse year ever. I retired in the Fall of that year.

I am proud of my career on the LPGA and am still proud to be an LPGA member. I had a pretty amazing 19 year run. I have regrets, but for a girl from Baltimore I didn’t do too bad! I met my husband. I made over 3 million in career earnings. I met a ton of friends, made more memories and had more opportunities than you can imagine. All of this because I was able to hit a little white ball into a hole. Pretty freakin’ cool!

LPGA-Part 1

April 17, 2011

After graduation, I spent the summer playing in tournaments and working on my golf game.  I was given an exemption into an LPGA tourney played at Bethesda CC.  I played well that week and was encouraged by a friend who was on tour to give the LPGA qualifying a try.  My plans originally were to try to play some mini-tour events to get myself ready.  She said the best place to gain experience would be at the Q-School, so on her advice, I signed up and was on my way.  I made it through the first stage on the number and then was off to the finals in Houston.  I still remember the tiny little rental car, my brand new Jones golf bag with my name on it and trying to find a guy named “Coffee Joe” to hook me up with a caddy.  I was so naive and young!  I played great the first 3 rounds and was in a tie for 5th place going into the last day.  I slept for about 5 minutes that night knowing that if I showed up to the tee I would be playing on the LPGA!  Well I made it to the tee and that was the highlight of that day.  I choked my guts out but still had enough of a cushion and got my LPGA card!

To say I was a rookie was an understatement.  I was so intimidated, I didn’t go into the locker room for the first 3 events.  I also didn’t break 80 until Hawaii where it rained so much, we were forced to play only 16 holes.  My first made cut came in Tucson and I think I made a whopping $369.  I wish I had saved that check but at the time we needed the money and it was deposited immediately into the bank.  I was gaining valuable experience though and enjoyed life on tour.  I didn’t play that great, but was feeling more comfortable as the year wore on.  In late summer of that year, I began dating my future husband who was caddying for another player.  Our first date was to a Baltimore Orioles game (he remembers Nolan Ryan was pitching but I don’t)  during that same LPGA event in Bethesda.  After a week off, I was still aglow about my new man, and came to Rhode Island for the Ocean State Open.  Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!!  I had won an LPGA event in my rookie year!  As I look back now, I am amazed. I had a great week and I won.  I thought that’s how the tour worked.  I would find in the coming years how wrong I was.

My second year on tour was a struggle.  I played terrible throughout the year.  I was feeling pressure financially.  I had no real direction with my game.  Because of my win, I earned a 5 year exemption.  Thank Goodness!  Without that win, who knows what direction my life would have taken.  I often think of the choices that we make-however small- and how they affect the rest of our lives.  What if I never started playing golf?  What if I chose James Madison instead of Longwood?  What if I had skipped the event in Rhode Island?  What if I had done a cannonball instead of a dive? But I did win that tournament and I still had an LPGA card and I was not going to go down without a fight! That Fall I hooked up with a couple of guys from Pennsylvania who sponsored me and helped with my finances. I also started taking lessons from DeDe Owens.  By my third year on tour, my game had turned around and I was on my way to a pretty successful 19 year run.

Longwood College

April 16, 2011

Longwood College now called Longwood University is located in Farmville, VA. It was a 4 hour drive from my home in Baltimore which was the perfect distance for me. I was close enough that if I needed to, I could go home. But I was far enough, that I couldn’t go home all of the time. I had a fantastic time in college and often wish I could go back! I understand those people who chose to skip school. I am a big believer that no one knows the right choice except for that individual, but college was great and I would not trade my time there for all of the riches in the world. I was 1 of 6 incoming freshman on the Longwood golf team. My very first tournament at our home course I started 3-3-3…Birdie, Eagle, Par. I was on my way and my game really blossomed. We had our own golf course and I would go early and practice on my own before our organized practice. Farmville was a small town with not much to do-so I was either playing and practicing or enjoying the social aspects of college life. I graduated cum laude in 4 years with a degree in Business Administration with a Finance concentration. Leaving campus that day, I knew things would never be the same.

The Early Years

April 15, 2011

I was born in Baltimore in 1966. That makes me almost 45. Yikes, I can’t believe I am that old. I really don’t feel it, but I do have the wrinkles to prove it. I am the third of four kids born to Norma and Bill. I had a pretty normal childhood. I remember being happy and content and not having much to worry about when I was little. I started playing golf in 1978. My mom started playing with the ladies at the Country Club where we were members because my dad worked for Bethlehem Steel. My dad grew up caddying as a kid and my mom taking up the game made him start to play more regularly again. I have fond memories of summers spent playing golf, swimming, and hanging out at the club.

Things changed in the Fall of 1980. My dad was diagnosed with cancer and died in December of that year. I remember my mom telling me that I should continue to play golf because there would maybe be a chance of a future golf scholarship. She was right. I continued to play in local tournaments and gained the attention of a few schools. I chose Longwood College and enrolled in the Fall of 1984.

Why a blog?

April 14, 2011

So I have some extra time on my hands and thought-why a blog?  The idea originally came from my husband, D.  He thought I should write about my experiences of the last 3 months.  I also enjoyed updating my CaringBridge Journal and got a lot of positive comments on my posts.  Plus I have a few opinions about things. Even though very few people might end up reading  about those opinions, I still want to express them so….here it is…. my blog.  Enjoy!