Friday, July 24, 2009
Every year, The Fresh Air Fund gives thousands of inner-city children the priceless gift of fun – and opens the door to a lifetime of opportunities. Whether it's a two-week trip to visit a volunteer host family, or a fun-filled and educational stay at one of their camps, FA programs make for unforgettable memories – and open a world of new friendships and fresh possibilities.
In 2008, The Fresh Air Fund's Volunteer Host Family program, called Friendly Town, gave close to 5,000 New York City boys and girls, ages six to 18, free summer experiences in the country and the suburbs. Volunteer host families shared their friendship and homes up to two weeks or more in 13 Northeastern states from Virginia to Maine and Canada.
Although this summer is almost over, there is still time to help Fresh Air Fund children experience the summer they deserve. The program is still in need of host families for the month of August. Host families are volunteers who open their hearts and home to a child from the city to give them a Fresh Air experience that can change lives.
So if you have some extra room in your home and in your heart, why not host a child in August. Teach them how to golf and let them experience that "come back tomorrow" shot that will get them seeking out a First Tee program in their community.
Or donate what you can to help make a child's summer, a summer to remember.
My good friend Linda (far right), who I met about 5 years ago on the first tee of a local golf course, chaired this year's tourney and invited me to join her team (Rohays - left, Lorraine - centre left).
After last year's experience, I couldn't wait to participate and thought about it for weeks before the event. I even took a lesson the day before to "tweak" my swing - WRONG! What a mistake that was! But that's a whole other story...
The charity tournament was a two day event - the first evening being a cocktail party, silent auction and live auction. I was amazed at the many dozens of contributions made by club members, volunteers, local sponsors and organizations who generously donated their time, money, products and services to this event.
One such organization you probably already know about through my blog - Sweet Spot Golf. You may recall that Sweet Spot donates money to breast cancer research for every club they sell. It's one of the reasons I use their clubs - their 4 hybrid is my favorite club in my bag -bar none. I can hit it a mile!
This year, when I told President Brian Allman who the recipients would be for this charity event, he shipped up a Sweet Spot pink putter for the silent auction from the states without a second thought. Gotta love good neighbours like that!
The auctions brought in a lot of money, with people often bidding higher than the value of the donation to help Kate Booth House - a crisis shelter for women and their children fleeing from domestic violence. I was shocked to learn that in Canada one in four women has experienced violence by the man in her life. In 2004 alone, more than 95,000 women and their children sought refuge at domestic violence shelters like Kate Booth House.
Since 2000, Kate Booth House and Esther's Place (a second stage continuum of care), have protected over 5,000 families. They do amazing work, but are often over capacity from the need of so many. The Shaughnessy Women's Charity Golf Tournament has been helping Kate Booth House for many years - providing funds for expansion, outreach programs, education, staff recruitment, summer programs for children and basic living needs for those who seek shelter at the house.
I'm not sure how much money Shaughnessy raised this year, but it must have been a lot. Here's one example of the generousity of the bidders at the auction...Chef Peter Crook and Lisa Smith of Shaughnessy donated a dinner for 12 in the home of the successful bidder. That one item alone brought in well over $6,000!
Of course, I had to get in on the action - bidding and winning a week's stay in a gorgeous 3 bedroom home in Palm Desert, donated by a very generous club member, Suzy Weeks - it was the perfect birthday gift to bring home to my husband.
The next day, I headed out early to practice at probably the best facility in Vancouver. I love Shaughnessy's practice area. And their course ain't no slouch either ;) I can see why it's been chosen for the Canadian Open so many times (it's coming back in 2011). What a gorgeous place!
The weather was perfect - around 27 degrees C (~80 F) with a slight breeze. The course was in immaculate condition. Club members (women and men) were working at almost every tee, handing out goodies, tracking KP contests and the like, and even raking out bunkers after we played. I loved that part, considering I hit 13 bunker shots that day (did I mention it was a mistake to take a lesson before a tournament? :)).
Even the grounds keepers and gardeners put out a special surprise for us - a beautiful tree (the Shaughnessy symbol) sculpted right in the middle of the 11th fairway.
I can't remember having so much fun. Lorraine, Royhas and Linda were wonderful teammates. Lorraine and I discovered we share the same golf coach and she, like me, took a lesson just before the tournament. Naturally we had to text our coach to share our good, bad and ugly shots all through the game - the ugly shots were his fault, of course ;).
At the 17th hole, we were all treated to massages as we looked out over the beautiful par 3 facing the ocean.
I felt so good after that neck rub, I didn't even mind hitting what I thought was the perfect shot, only to discover it had rolled into the bunker behind the green. Took me 3 tries to get out - GRRRR - but then I rolled in a 30-40 foot putt, so life was good again. Golf is such a fickle game.
A fabulous luncheon ended the perfect day. Although we didn't win the tournament, we didn't care. The only winner we cared about was Kate Booth House. It felt so good to watch Major Marjory Peddle get up and share how the funds raised by this tournament would help so many. I must admit I got a bit chocked up hearing her speech.
I want to send out a very special thank you to my dear friend, Linda, for letting me share in such a wonderful event. And to Lorraine and Rohays for the laughs and good times we had from tee to green.
They say if you give, you receive tenfold. That certainly was true for me last week. I gave so little and received so much - not the least of which was meeting other women golfers who I'm proud to call my new friends.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Andrew, who turned pro just this year has been in the news a bit already, with some run-ins with Duke University. It's reported he's a bit of a hot head. I wonder if his temper will flare on a show known for pushing the limits of patience of its contestants.
I, for one, am always up for shenanigans, so I am really looking forward to this new series. But it looks like the rest of the cast is still being kept under wraps for now. Hmmm...I guess it's time for me to start snooping around.
As soon as I learn something, you'll be the first to know!
Rudy’s son shoots for reality golf title
By MAXINE SHEN
New York Post
23 Jul 2009
Fresh from scoring a bogey in court, Andrew Giuliani is hoping to launch his professional golfing career by winning a reality show. The ex-mayor’s 23-yearold son — who turned pro at the beginning of the year — is at Disney World competing in the Golf...read more...
TVThursday Going fore it
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
THIS is my golf dream job! Check this out.
YourGolfTravel, which is well known for arranging the ultimate golf holidays, has recently announced the Ultimate Job in Golf.
According to their website, YGT is "looking to liberate a weekend golfer who is sick and tired of the rat race and give them the ultimate job in golf, spending a year travelling the world to sample and review some of the globe’s most desirable golf destinations."
Wow! Could I learn to love that job!
Okay...what's the catch? This sounds too good to be true.
Well, apparently none...
So make the short list, you need to:
1. Be "redundant" - haha...who isn't these days?
2. Have a handicap less than 14 - time to get out and practice practice practice!
3. Send in a 500-1000 word article about your best golf holiday and share why you are the best candidate for the job - Oh, I have a ton of stuff for that - my problem will be keeping it under 1000 words LOL!
Once they sort through the hundreds of thousands of applications (I sure don't envy HR's job on this one!), the top 18 candidates will play an 18 hole scratch tournament to find out who is the winner of the ultimate dream job.
Amazing! I can't imagine a more perfect way to spend the next year - travelling the world, playing and writing about golf. Unfortunately, my handicap is a tad higher than 14, but my writing is a 10 handicap. Why aren't they measurting that? I write waaaay better than I play.
Oh well, whoever wins, here's an open invitation to be your caddie. Just pay my expenses and I'm there. I'll walk, write and publish stories about every course and resort you visit. All you need to do is stay and play. What could be better than that.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I can't count the number of times I've watched footage of Tom Watson holing that 60 foot putt on the 16th hole to tie Jack Nicklaus, and then go on to beat the Golden Bear by 1 stroke and capture his 2nd Claret Jug (his first was at Carnoustie Golf Links in 1975).
That Duel in the Sun will be remembered forever, but what about Turnberry itself? Since I really didn't take up the game until a few years ago, I wasn't as familiar with Ailsa as I was with other, more resent, Open venues, so I decided I'd talk to my friend and colleague, David from the UK - a 14 handicapper who's played Ailsa twice. After hearing from him about the first time he set his eyes on that course, I feel like it's become a memory for me as well...
It was not long after the last British Open was held in Turnberry that David and his golf buddies (regional winners of a British Telecom golf competition) set off to play the Ailsa course with some pretty high stakes - they were one of 40 teams vying for 6 spots to play the finals in Sotogrande Spain, all expenses paid.
They arrived to find themselves in in what David calls "golfing majesty". Not a stranger to playing other famous Open venues (he has played Hoylake, St Andrews Old Course and Royal Birkdale), David described his feelings at Turnberry as being "in awe". Not only was the hotel a 5 star treasure, the course was in fantastic condition, with breathtaking vista views.
Perhaps it was that sense of wonder that that caused him to perform 'awe-fully' on the practice range before his round. What made it even worse was that he had an audience behind him - European PGA tour pro Malcolm Gregson was standing there watching and couldn't help but speak up as David headed to the first tee with these words of comfort, "It's going to be a long hard day for you today if you are going to hit the ball like that." Gee, thanks Malcolm!
Well, despite Mr. Gregson's less than encouraging send off, David had one of those wonderful experiences where he woke up on the first tee and drove his ball straight down the fairway, delighting himself, his team mates and especially his caddie who watched him duff shot after shot on the warm up tee, thinking it was going to be the longest day of his life. A short iron into the green and suddenly life was very very good.
They had a marvelous day, despite the steading downpour of rain. And when they reached the 9th hole, they were ready for the much-talked-about views of Ailsa Craig - a volcanic rock that rises over 1,000 feet from the middle of the Firth of Clyde.
At this point, David's caddie stepped up to give his little speech, "If you can see Ailsa Craig, it's about to rain; if you can't see it, it's already raining." I wonder how many times he's said that over the years ;)
Anyway, no amount of squinting, could bring Ailsa Craig into view for the team so they sadly moved on to the 10th tee.
Now, the 10th hole has changed quite a bit since David played. The redesign was intended to bring the coastline further into play and create more of a risk/reward shot for players looking to cut off the corner of the fairway.
Today it requires at least a 200-yard carry off the tee. I sure hope that was from the tips or I'd be packing my bags for home by now.
Some say this stretch of holes 8 through 10 is Scotland's Pebble Beach, but with its spectacular untamed landscapes untouched by civilization, and its romantic history, I'd say Turnberry has it one up on the home of the 2010 US Open. But of course, I haven't played either, so I better hold my judgement until I can compare them first hand. Let me just make sure they are both on my bucket list.
Regardless of the many lost balls in knee high rough and having to slog their way through the links, the team was doing pretty well until the 17th, where David described his performance as very 'keystone cop-like', "I jammily escaped the bunker on the hillock 100 yards short right of the green only to find it lodged above the bunker leaving me an impossible stance. My clumsy swing at it only succeeded in dislodging it so that it ran back into the bunker swiftly followed by yours truly and my clubs." Oh how I wish I had a picture of that!
Regardless of the "cock-up" at 17, David's team was quite excited dripping their way into the clubhouse with a final score of 91. Now in the Stableford (best 2 ball) format they were playing, that was a pretty good score and they were fairly confident they would be in the top 6. But the magic of Turnberry seemed to be focused on a different foursome that day who carded an incredible 102. Commentator, Peter Alliss, who was giving the after-dinner speech, was quite nonchalant about the score saying, "Look, it's not that difficult to do this. All you need to take is 4 single handicap golfers and play them as 18, 19, 20 and 21 and your job is done!" Haha...say no more - say no more!
Almost twenty years later, David still vividly remembers the course, the views, the clubhouse, the hotel and every shot. He's played Turnberry since that eventful day, but the memories of his first time on Scotland's coastal wonder have burned themselves into his brain and his heart. I guess what they say is true, "It's never quite as good as the first time."
I can't wait to experience for myself one of Scotland's golfing treasures for the first time. And they do say, 3's a charm, so... Haste Ye Back, David, and I'll meet you at the first tee!
Thursday, July 9, 2009
So one night before bed, I cracked open the cover and started to read, expecting it to lull me to sleep in a few minutes. I was wrong.
Here's how the book started...
"The dog was going to be a problem.
I had already faced off against a gang of galloping livestock, gone toe to hoof with a mountain goat, and narrowly escaped the nip of a mother swan. I had climbed my way out of sandy pits and thorny ditches, scrambled up stone walls, splashed my way through deep and icy waters. I had felt speeding cars brush the hair on my knuckles. I had lowered my chin into a month-long rain, peeled the blisters off my blisters, watched my feet turn to piles of soggy porridge. I had chafed. Over the last four months, I had encountered quick and flying fists, smelled the sour breath of a hundred lost men, fought my damndest not to become one of them. I took on the British Army. I dodged the police. And I felt the despair of every man who ever chose to walk alone, then found himself dreaming he could go back and choose differently.
But with just a few hours to go, and just a few paces left on my journey, I met a growl in the middle of a quiet country road, and it sounded just like the last thing a person might ever hear.
The dog was tall as a Harley with paws the size of pancakes. His skin was taut and caked in mud as if he'd been resurrected from a bog, and a winding scar cut up his face like a map. A redness leaked from his eyes, and in his stare I recognized a disquieting certainty about how the next few minutes were going to proceed. This wasn't an animal I was looking at, I told myself. This was an inevitability."
Now THAT didn't sound like a boring golf travelogue to me, so I kept reading, and reading and reading for more than 2 hours to discover that "A Course Called Ireland: A Long Walk in Search of a Country, a Pint and the Next Tee” is a delight!
So much more than a book about golfing in Ireland, A Course Called Ireland is an adventure story of a man (many thought was crazy) who embarks on a quest to walk and play the longest golf course in the world - that course being the entire perimeter of Ireland, ending in Ballybunion.
Over a 4 month period, author Tom Coyne walked over 1,000 miles and played 990 holes (par 3,895) of links golf on 56 courses. The adventures, or should I say misadventures, he and his golf buddies encounter along his journey are hilarious; the people he meets, unforgettable; and the golf courses he describes make you want to grab your clubs and catch next plane to the Emerald Isle.
The book is a great read made all the more entertaining by Coyne's captivating writing style which makes you feel like you are on the journey with him. Tom is a wonderfully entertaining storyteller.
As you can tell...I loved this book. Every night I would read a few holes (that's a clever way Tom divides up the chapters) and I don't think there was one evening when I didn't elbow my husband, while laughing out loud, saying, "Hey, listen to this!", and then proceeded to read out loud a funny anecdote or phrase.
By the end of the book, I had dog-eared more pages and highlighted more quotable quotes than I could count.
This is definitely NOT a book I can regift...Haha...but I wouldn't want to. This is a book I will reference again and again. And if I ever get a chance to visit Ireland, it will be my bible of where to play and what to bring with me.
After reading A Course Called Ireland I just had to talk to Tom about walking where no man had walked before....
I won't ruin the book for you by giving away any more excerpts, but I can tell you that when Tom writes about a golf course, it's not the typical hole by hole description you'd normally see on blogs like mine. I learned something about writing course reviews from Tom - Don't tell people about the holes, yardages and hazards - make them feel the wind on your face, the wonder of the landscape and the fears, frustrations and fun that they can expect to feel when they play the course.
If you are still wondering what motivated Tom to take on such a brutally difficult challenge, check out this podcast on Smarter Golf.
Then go out and buy A Course Called Ireland. And from the warm and safe comfort of your bedroom or study, live vicariously through Tom's journey, complete with 38 days of horrid rain, man-eating canines, full Irish breakfasts that could convert most carnivores into vegetarians, blisters on blisters, traffic nightmares and the wild and wonderful golf courses he played along the way.
A word crops up from time to time in Tom's book...'Craic' (pronounced 'crack'), which means "fun, enjoyment, abandonment, or lighthearted mischief". I guess that really sums up Tom Coyne's adventure and his book - it's just great craic!