I like women. I like women a lot. I suppose that comes as no big surprise since men are genetically wired that way. I like looking at them. I like speaking with them. I like who they are. I like that they’re smaller than men and that they instinctively use their femininity to balance the difference. I like the female body, of course; its scale, everything about it. I like that their voices are higher. I like that they are generally more outgoing and gregarious than men—that you can have conversations with them that are substantive and heartfelt.
I like that it was women who tamed the wild beast in men through the ages creating the openings for the civilized societies we live in today. Tony Soprano might have been the Don, but it was his wife, Carmella, who fearlessly kept the lid of normalcy on the family. I like that women can be both “properly” demure and ladylike…and earthy without being crude. I like that they are soft rather than hard.
I like going to gatherings with my wife where there are dozens of couples with all the pageantry the women bring to the event and wondering just what it would be like if no women were there.
I like that women bring life into the world and nurture it once it’s here. And I like that as that life matures, the nurturing does too. Have you ever watched a young mother, her senses casually cocked at her child, allowing self-expression, sometimes bordering on dangerous, to flourish in that child? I like knowing that none of us would be here if not for women and all the births they endured for us…and that in the aftermath they exude a glow and confidence that comes with the experience.
And so, I like playing golf with women. I like when the body and substance of a woman becomes animated by a golf swing. When I was working on my manuscript for my forthcoming book, Going For It! A Spiritual Adventure on the Champions Tour, I would write first thing in the morning and then head to the course for practice and play. Since I could never predict the timing on the writing, as a single, I would take pot luck on who the system would pair me with. It was routinely other men just because of raw numbers, but I also got to play with a lot of couples. It didn’t matter to me because I was working on what I was working on and I treated each one as practice for playing in pro ams.
Since one of the things you do in pro ams is be supportive of your pro am partners, I started practicing for that as well. The men were easy enough because I had a male frame of reference, but I had to develop an eye for what the women were able to do and how they did it.
And then, one lucky day, I met Mary Kay Marino on the range. She lost her card on the LPGA Tour and she was playing on the Futures Tour trying to win it back. Since we were both working towards the same thing on our respective tours, we hit it off; fellow travelers at the office. And since our schedules were generally the same, we would frequently hit balls together and sometimes play.
Now, you gotta understand, Mary Kay had a swing that would stop the range. Our range is 150 yards wide. I know because I actually lasered it one day. When she would lug her Callaway staff bag from her cart to the line of balls, that, in and of itself, would attract attention. But when she started hitting balls, she attracted stares. She was completely oblivious. She was a natural athlete who had a rhythm and grace in her movement that was mesmerizing. Her economy of motion was baffling. “How does she do that?”
And what I began to notice over time was that there was a little bit of Mary Kay in all the women I got to watch playing. Obviously, they weren’t professional caliber players, but they all had that feminine characteristic of using their smaller bodies to replicate the exhilaration of a good golf shot, even if they could only hit their drives 120 yards. The rhythm and grace was endearing…and masterful in its own right.
Now lest you think that this is a treatise on the daintiness of women, I want you to know that I got to see retired, LPGA Tour Hall of Fame and World Golf Hall of Fame player, Beth Daniel, in her prime. She was tall and athletic and one of the longest players on Tour. She killed it. And as an inexperienced amateur player at the time, I wondered if I could even get close to her. It was hard to know because I was watching her on a course I was unfamiliar with. I just knew that my tee shots didn’t seem quite as majestic as hers. That might have been the first time I really came to understand the ability of women in golf. You can’t really appreciate it watching it on television.
And then I had the opportunity to play with three modern LPGA Tour players from my perspective as a Monday qualifier on the Champions Tour. One day, all the stars aligned, and the writing was completed at just the right time. When I arrived to join the “threesome” on the tee, I was flabbergasted at my good luck: Carin Koch, Sophie Gustafson and Maria Hjorth, three Swedish comrades-in-arms playing a social round together. When I announced that I was going to play the gold tees, they said, “Okay, we’ll play with you.” It was a hoot, a wonderful display of the skills on the Tour and Sophie and Maria hit heart-stopping drives all day long. Carin was not as long, but she was just as athletic.
And now I get to see all these things in my wife. Helene has decided that, after all these years, she wants to take up the game. So Sunday morning is Helene’s golf lesson day. I have been slowly nurturing her development beginning with putting and the short game. The short game is so important because not only is it an important skill set of the game, its ball contact is a microcosm of the full swing: feel what quality ball contact is like in the short game and you know what to feel for in the full swing.
She has been amazingly patient with the process and to good end: not only is she developing quite a nice, free-flowing swing, but now I get to watch my wife, pony tail swaying, wrapped around her body in her followthrough. She makes my heart sing.
If you hadn’t guessed by now, this post is in celebration of women in golf.
God love ‘em.