Chapter Six – The Tour de Golf Tours
Beginning this four-tours-in-five-days adventure with a Futures Tour pro-am was a no-brainer. In addition to furnishing me with the opportunity to actually take part in an event I was covering, the City of Hammond Classic would enable me to debunk the age-old saying, “You can’t go home again.” Sure enough, not only was visiting the Futures Tour like going home, it was like going home on Thanksgiving weekend, playing backyard touch football with all your cousins, and pulling the lucky end of the wishbone from the turkey. It was that comfortable.
Blessed with the most approachable pro athletes on the planet, this tour is the launching pad for a career on women’s golf ’s biggest stage. Scan the final results of virtually any LPGA tournament, and you will find dozens of players who have previously graced the fairways of the Futures Tour. And “grace” is the operative word here.
The purse money is not great. Travel is almost exclusively by car— often hundreds of miles at a time between Tour stops. Sponsorships and endorsement deals are hard to come by. And just five players each year earn the ultimate reward, the right to graduate to the LPGA Tour with fully unrestricted playing privileges. But despite all of that, these young women approach every tournament as simply another opportunity to succeed. And they get it, with “it” being the dynamics of professional sports in the new millennium.
Ask pretty much any Futures Tour player to define her job, and she’ll tell you: (a) Play great golf; and (b) Entertain fans and sponsors. They take both responsibilities equally seriously, which is why playing in a Futures Tour pro-am is just about the most fun you can possibly have while losing a dozen golf balls and most of your athletic self-esteem.
I arrived at Lost Marsh Golf Club anticipating that I would be recognized by some, but I never anticipated how warm would be my reception. From tournament director Carole Jo Fremouw to my former colleagues on the Tour’s staff to many of the talented and charismatic pros, everyone made a point of stopping by to say hello and check up on me. It was like having about 100 additional sisters for the day, without the requisite battle for time in the family bathroom.
I’m not the most talented golfer in the world, but what I lack in natural skill I make up for with a practice regimen that includes…OK, well it includes next to nothing. Or at least nothing that anyone else would identify as “practice.” Take my warm-up routine for that day’s tournament:
11:15 AM: Arrive at course, turn bag over to course staff to whisk away
11:20 AM: Change into golf shoes
11:22 AM: Begin socializing
12:38 PM: Locate putter, head to practice green to putt
12:41 PM: Resume socializing
12:56 PM: Remember that I have yet to officially register for play, and sprint to do so
12:59 PM: Begin stretching regimen
1:00 PM: Hit first tee shot into lake