Okay, I admit it. I’m a golf slut. I golf around. I play golf wherever I’m invited — Shinnecock, National, Maidstone, Atlantic, the Bridge, Deepdale, Winged Foot, and Westhampton. I’ll go as far as Westchester and even to Florida in the winter, especially when we’re covered in snow on Long Island. For a while I was a regular on the member-guest circuit of the top private clubs on the East End. I’m asked to play not because of my golf ability but because I’m fun to play with. Also, I have a very high handicap that comes in handy in competition when I can occasionally par a hole.
Golf, golf, golf, golf, golf. It’s all I think about; it’s turning into an obsession. I have my weekly game with the women on ladies’ day at the Southampton Golf Club, where my husband and I are members. I was the 9-hole women’s champion the last two years at the club, but if I continue to play with them and win a third year in a row, no one will talk to me. So this year I moved up to the 18-holers, the big girls, the more serious golfers, and that suits my competitive nature. I’ve learned a lot from playing with them and, being a visual person, from watching them. I learned to examine my putts from both sides from Theresa Romano, to hit sideways out of bunkers from Nancy DePetris, and not to hit someone else’s ball for a two-stroke penalty.
It’s a game, not a cure for cancer, so let’s keep things in perspective. There are many positives to being invited to member-guests. I’m out all day in a beautiful, green, park-like place away from computers and cellphones, which are strictly forbidden on all golf courses. They serve a lovely breakfast with fresh berries, melon, croissants, and bagels with smoked salmon before teeing off, and then an elaborate lunch, featuring lobster, tuna or filet mignon, grilled vegetables, and a variety of salads like watermelon and feta, all accompanied by fine wine.
And there’s always a lovely present for just showing up. Of course if I win longest drive or closest to the pin or low net, there are additional prizes. I have a treasure trove of different-size crystal vases, pewter platters, pitchers, Paul Revere bowls, and wineglasses etched with the club’s name. I bring my husband a hat or a nice polo shirt from the clubs where I play. It’s the least I can do.
This spring I was playing in a foursome with three other women, and as I teed off with my 7-iron on the second hole, a little par 3, about 115 yards, they shouted, “It went in the hole!”
I couldn’t see that far and didn’t want to get too excited, so I said, “Let’s see when we get up there.”
Sure enough, my little white, smiling Titleist with dimples was sitting snug in the cup next to the pin. A hole in one! Cool.
We all shrieked and shouted and couldn’t believe my good fortune, because luck does play a role. Sure, it’s skill to get the ball on the green, but it could easily bounce the other way or roll off the green into a nasty, cavernous bunker. It was very exciting, but we still had 16 more holes to play. I ended up getting par on two other par 3s and posted my best score of the year.
I borrowed my partner’s cellphone, strictly verboten, and called my husband to give him the good news and tell him to meet us in the clubhouse after the round. Club members buy hole-in-one insurance at the beginning of the season so everyone in the clubhouse gets a free drink when the person who got it comes in.
The president of the club happened to be there, and I graciously accepted the kudos and accolades from people I didn’t know. We drank glasses of champagne, and then I bought my ladies a second round.
I do enjoy my golf. Now the only problem is every time I tee up on a par 3, I expect the ball to go in the hole. Maybe next year.
Joanne Pateman is a former advertising art director who lives in Southampton. She has an M.F.A. from Southampton College and regularly contributes “Guestwords” to The Star.