Chasing my dreams one shot at a time
Greetings from Ft. Myers, FL. Here is the latest from the past few weeks on the road.
During the last week of time off from the tour schedule, I flew up to Syracuse, New York, for three days to promote the Symetra Tour’s Credit Union Classic Presented by Wegmans (Aug 1st-3rd). The purpose of our visit was to help drive community interest through local media and prospective sponsors. Travel buddy Laura Kueny and I visited three local radio stations, one local morning television show, and spoke at a luncheon for past and future tournament sponsors. We were the guests of the tournament chair and our friend, Mike Vadala. Mike, who is president of Summit Federal Credit Union, is passionate about women’s golf, and he is far more involved than most tournament chairs. He gets to know the players in the event and stays in touch with us throughout the year. By bringing us into Syracuse, Mike provided Laura and me the tour version of grad school. I learned a great deal about the effort and collaboration that goes into every detail of tournament planning, and I had the opportunity to observe how Mike, his tournament director Bill Motto, and the Symetra Tour business officer David Lafrennie go about establishing partnerships with sponsors. I came away with an appreciation for the behind the scenes prep for our events and a better understanding of what I can do as a player to grow the tour. This short trip was a valuable learning experience.
I flew back to Phoenix for one final weekend of practice, then was off to Florida to begin this long stretch of consecutive events. The first event was last week in Sarasota, which is probably my favorite stop on tour. This city looks and feels completely different than the rest of Florida… which might have to do with why I like it so much. Set right on the gulf coast, it is known as the art capital of the state. I will let my pictures from the week do the explaining.
To set the scene, here is an aerial view of Sarasota (no, I did not take this). The downtown area is on the bay near the top of the photo. I stayed on the right half of the circle in the foreground on the small channel you see separating the circle from the key. We were a short walk to the beach and a shorter walk to the shops & restaurants on St. Armand's circle.
The best part about Sarasota is my amazing host mom, Sue Morris. This was my second year at Sue's home. Sue and her husband, Dick, founded the Sarasota Film Society and built two movie theaters in town. Sue and I have established a tradition of going to see a movie at their art theater, Burns Court Cinema (similar to The Flicks in Boise). This year we saw The Lunchbox. I give it four popcorns.
On Wednesday of tournament week I played in the Crab & Fin Pro Am with (from left to right) Debby Spicuzza, Becky Carlin, and Barbara Stuart. This was the most fun pro am group I have ever had! I always enjoy playing with an all female group (a rarity in most pro-ams), and this crew was no exception. They were not only hilarious, but fantastic players as well. And for the first time ever, my pro am team actually WON! Well, we tied for low net & got second by virtue of a scorecard playoff... but it still felt like a W. Barbara also won closest to the pin. This was one of the highlights of my week.
The only thing missing from Sarasota was good golf. We played a fantastic course, Sara Bay CC. This is a signature Donald Ross design where every green looks like an upside down bowl. Playing to the proper landing area on each green is key if you want to stay on the green and not short side yourself. I started off on a high note Friday, shooting a fine round of level par and ending the day inside the top-10. Unfortunately that was where I peaked. I came out on Saturday trying too hard to play perfect golf, which is the quickest way to NOT play perfect golf (if there is such a thing?). I was a mess on the front nine, missing greens and then failing to get up and down. I calmed myself down and started hitting better approach shots on the back nine, but then could not drop a single putt to get momentum going. I shot a disastrous 80 and followed it up with a 78 on Sunday. The good news is you learn far more from the bad weeks than you do from the good weeks. This week, I learned what situations tend to cause tension (see: wanting perfect golf) and what my tendencies are when tension creeps into my new and improved swing. I also realized how my mindset tends to change from the practice round days to the tournament days- I found myself playing not to lose instead of playing to win. I was making defensive plays around the greens and not chipping and putting with the confidence I had earlier in the week. My strategy for this weekend is to pretend that each hole is a single match against a friend. This should bring out my cocky, competitive mindset that always leads to my best golf and help to take the focus off the number on the scorecard.
This week’s tournament site is Cypress Lakes CC in Ft. Myers. I once again lucked out with my housing assignment. My host, Jan Lee, lives right on the gulf! I am absolutely loving all of this beach time. I don’t think there is any better way to clear the mind and heart than a run along the water. I am so grateful to these kind people for opening up their homes to a wandering golfer.
An inside look at my journey in professional golf
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