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Archive for August, 2012

There is nothing quite like writing. I don’t mean posting something on Twitter, or shooting out a dozen emails. I mean writing. With a pen(cil). On paper. With your hands. In this day and age of technology, we have simplified so many things. You can pay your mortgage with the touch of a button. You can view concerts from across the globe live on your computer. We are always connected, ever able to get to anyone, anywhere in the world within 24 hours. But have we gone too far when after writing some ten lines on a notepad, my hand cramps from the weight of the pen I’m wielding? Granted, it’s a big ol’ heavy MontBlanc pen that I have had for years and probably shouldn’t be used for much more than signing away a billion dollar company, but still. And yes, I wrote that. I was sitting on a plane, day dreaming and doodling, when my heart suddenly sank at the realization of what I just wrote on that napkin.

The romance of writing is gone. Even to-do lists, a short love note, Hell, writing one’s flight information is available on our phones, tablets and computers. I wonder if children at school learn their QWERTY’s as quickly as their ABC’s. I remember the days hen I’d write a note to a friend, obsess over how I wrote my “a’s” or how I dotted my “I’s”, would fold the note into a shape, be it an envelope, a flower, or another bit of origami. Part of the thrill would lie in how my friends would respond. Would they be able to figure out how to refold the letter? What would she write? How would she write it?

There is emotion in how we write, whether in big, loops, or in a hurried fervor, hoping that our hands would be able to keep up with the speed in which our minds race. We wrote in script, we wrote in print, and sometimes we wrote in secret languages no one but the closest of friends understood or could possibly decrypt. We’d write in journals, in our textbooks, and we’d write on napkins, receipts, on anything that had a surface to scribble something on. But now? Now our hands cramp, our minds race at the speed of 100 words per minute, and we forget. We forget the importance of writing. Much of what we want to say comes off in how we write, and so we often give people only part of the story. Truly, the romance of the scripted word is dying. It’s time we brought it back to life. Snail mail needs to come back. Or else writing will fall by the way side much in the way word of mouth, the way stories used to be told throughout the generations before writing, had disappeared.

I am hereby rededicating myself to writing notes to people, as often as I can, when given the opportunity. Even if it’s to write my friend a note wishing her good luck in her next round, or to handwrite thank you notes. The world has become so digitized, we sometimes forget how important it is to take that extra minute to write a note, and three business days for the mail to arrive at the intended person’s hand.

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It’s 2003. I am eighteen years old, fresh off what would later be called the Symetra Tour, and a full time rookie on the LPGA. I am carefree, I am  young, I am precocious. I am lucky to be playing a sport that I had fallen in love with, and was getting paid based on how well I played. The first LPGA event of the season is the 2003 Welch’s Fry Circle K in Tucson, AZ. My practice round included teeing it up with Dorothy Delasin, one of my heroes growing up in Northern California, and Cristie Kerr, who would later on prove to be one of, if not the strongest American player on the LPGA tour for a number of years.

Though there is a slew of new faces, I see a lot of faces I recognize. Obviously, Lorena Ochoa and Miriam Nagl, who graduated with me from the Futures Tour, along with a littering of players that made their way through Qualifying School. There are a few players that I knew through the Junior Golf Association of Northern California like Natalie Gulbis, who was in her second year on tour at 19, and someone I always admired for her kindness to strangers and her work ethic. One thing that has always stuck in my mind was when I saw her in the locker room on Tuesday, making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and she looked over at me and smiled. I shuffled over and watched her in awe and said something massively dorky like “Wow. I can’t believe we are here together.” And with her iconic, dazzling smile, Nat looked at me and said “We really are living the dream, aren’t we?”

And then of course, there were the women I grew up watching on the television. Meg Mallon. Beth Daniel. Karrie Webb. Se Ri Pak, who is deemed a deity in the world of Korean golf. And of course, Annika Sorenstam, who was one of the first players to show mind boggling dominance in the modern era of golf. These were women I looked up to, women I idolized, and women I wanted to get to know. To humanize; so I would be able to treat them with the respect and reverence they deserve, but also so I would be able to maybe one day call them friend.

Throughout my first week on tour, I got to know many names. So many I was overwhelmed, but was in such a daze that before I knew it, it was Thursday. I was paired with Miriam Nagl, whom I had graduated with the year before, and Dina Amaccapane, a player that I had seen on TV many times before. Both Dina and I missed the first green, and when I saw her play a soft lob shot and stick the ball to five feet from the hole, I just assumed I could too. Mind you, I had never really played a shot like that before. I was very much of the ilk to play flop shots when I had a perfect lie, and needed to spin the ball. I never thought to play the ball away from the ground when I had room to work with, but I figured “she could, so why can’t I?” Twenty five feet later, my dad was scratching his head and muttering about why I ever tried playing that shot, I never use that shot. Miriam was on a similar line for her birdie putt, and when I watched her ball miss on the high side, I was able to use her read and sank my par putt.

The remainder of the next two days seemed to go into a blur, and before I knew it, I made my first cut, and was playing with Deb Richard, a lady with grace and patience and encouraging words for me. The crowd that had gathered on the first tee made me cry because Saturday was my nineteenth birthday, and I went on to shoot an easy 8-under 62. Come Sunday, I was in the final pairing with the Canadian legend Lorie Kane, and briefly held the lead with birdies on my first two holes. Lorie was a fierce competitor, and she taught me a lot about how to deal with fans, how to deal with a just-turned nineteen year old and her pop lugging her bag around. We were a duo that loved being able to be on that golf course, and were eager to learn more about the way tournament golf at it’s highest level could be played. Though neither of us won (Long ball Wendy Doolan ended up smoking the golf course and us) I left the course a much more aware young lady.

In the weeks after that, I got paired with Meg Mallon, with Beth Daniel, and with Annika Sorenstam. They told me tales of how the tour used to be, how lucky we all were to be where we were. We were not only walking the trail blazed for us by the work and love of the game Babe Zaharias, Mickey Wright, Louise Suggs, and the ten other founders of the LPGA had. No, not at all. We were also walking along, trowel in hand, and paving the way for the future. The women I grew up idolizing taught me to make sure to leave the LPGA and the game of golf in a better place than I entered.

Ten years and two victories later, I feel like there has been a change of the guards. I have seen the women I idolized retire, starting with Beth Daniel, and most recently in the legendary Grace Park, who epitomized her first name. Though I am only 28, I feel like I am beyond my years, in both wisdom (which is probably a load of cow patties) and in stress on my body, my mind, my soul. The organization that I came into has been through some extremely difficult times, has risen from the ashes and re-emerged, as a new product full of gorgeous, young Americans that are business saavy and can bomb the ball.

Though I have been struggling through some physical ailments, depression, and the recession we have all been feeling, I have renewed hope in the future of the LPGA. In the last two weeks I have played with the beautiful Sydnee Michaels, Lizette Salas, and Danielle Kang. They are all gorgeous, beat the crap out of the ball, and have great heads on their shoulders. The combined age of the last three winners is 59, which is the lowest recorded score in women’s golf. 59. Granted, the lovely Kiwi Lydia Ko is only 15, but the other two winners, So Yeon Ryu and Mika Miyazato are both 22. And somehow, six years is a massive difference. Who I was at 25 and who I am right now, I can’t even begin to explain it. I just know I need to get my butt into gear, lose as much weight as yards I want to gain off my driver, and go find Juan Ponce De Leon and find me that Fountain of Youth he is reputed to have found. I will be around until the LPGA is in a better place than when I was a rambunctious 18 year old, but when I do, I know the ladies into whose hands I shall be placing the shovel and trowel will be able to continue on the path paved for them.

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“I prefer the mystic clouds of nostalgia to the real thing, to be honest.” –Robert Wyatt

To me, there are very few things that can evoke memories the way that music can. Sure, the smell of Colgate sends me straight back to the days when I was a child, learning to brush my teeth. Standing over the sink with my mother, her mouth merrily frothing like a rabid animal, as we laboriously scrubbed at the germs in our mouths with our toothbrushes. Or the sharp bite of perfectly pickled kimchi that brings me back to my childhood house, mom and dad both cooking dinner for the family. Mom, with love. Dad, with flavor, also known as salt. The warmly lit house, before the days of harsh halogen lights, but the warm yellow glow of 75 watt bulbs…
But I digress. Music. Just the letters placed together form more than just a word. To me, music is the ultimate form of art. You can feel the life of the song pulsating into your bloodstream like an IV. The instruments call to you, reach into your soul and tell you of things you have yet to discover. MUSIC.
And while I can go on and on about music today, and how it has evolved since I started to appreciate it (was not too long ago, in the grand scheme of things. My history on music goes from my reading about the lives as well as listening to classical artists like Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin and the like, to several Elvis tunes, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, then leaps to the mid to late 80’s. Apologies to the decades I missed!!) I am choosing today to reminisce on the artists that influenced me as a youngster, in no particular order.
1. Gin Blossoms (Hey Jealousy, Until I Fall Away, Found Out About You)-This band I first heard when I was nine years old or so. Thanks to my mother, I had been mostly brought up on learning the lives of the classical artists, through illustrated books that depicted the lives of Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and the like. The other music I came across was courtesy of my older sister, whom I would catch playing Vanilla Ice and working on her Running Man in the backyard, or MC Hammer. Hearing Hey Jealousy for the first time on the television took my breath away, because there was a yearning in the voice of Robin Wilson, the lead vocalist that I had never encountered before. I still feel that yearning, all these years later, and every time I hear that song, I’m nine again.
2. TLC (Baby-Baby-Baby, What About Your Friends, Red Light Special, No Scrubs)- Now, these sisters had something special. They got me jumping, dancing, and begging my parents to deck me out in fluorescent colors, wear scrunchies, do that whole loop your shirt under and over your collar, and though their careers were tragically cut too short with the passing of Left Eye (in my posse, I was Left Eye, so I was especially distraught over her passing while filming a documentary in Honduras), they released albums from when I was seven till sixteen. They were with me when I learned how to play golf, when I started junior high and high school, and those three beautiful women were like my friends. RIP, Left Eye.
3. Gravity Kills (the ENTIRE self titled album)-This band will always be one of my favorites. I was technically a tween when I went to my very first live musical shindig, and with my older siblings, we drove all the way to the Shoreline Amphitheater to partake in KAMP KOME. The summer of 1996 will always be a great one, because there I learned the joys and magic of moshing, I saw my sister crowd surf, and thanks to the wonderful bands there like Poe, 311, Dishwalla, and Gravity Kills, I learned that letting loose, screaming like a crazed lunatic, thrashing limbs everywhere, and music could really, and truly HELP people feel better in a physical way. I couldn’t do the Running Man to save my life (I think I can tread water somewhat nowadays), I couldn’t actually hold a tune, and I had no skills with instruments. My poor mother must have been so devastated when she found out that I had a tin ear and was (still am) essentially missing a knuckle and my stumps for fingers couldn’t glide across the piano the same way hers could. But I had MOSHING. And oh, how it changed me. I still haven’t been in a physical fight with another human being, but moshing had given me an outlet that I still use to this day. THANK YOU, KAMP KOME!!!!
4. Better Than Ezra (Good, Porcelain, In The Blood, Southern Girl)- In 1995, I was really getting into music. The mainstream bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam never really touched my soul the way they did most people. I liked bands that had voices that didn’t sound like they were doped up (which, sadly, I came to find was the exact case for Kurt Cobain, RIP) and though the band hasn’t reached the heights I imagined, I still listen to In The Blood, and am back in the sixth grade, where we were king. Mrs. Smith, Matt Rogers, Derek Hansen, Tiffany Combs. Hot summer days, where everyone seemed to have a birthday party, a pool party. But more than anything, Better Than Ezra remind me of the days when I first started playing golf, where my parents would drop off my siblings and me, and we would play 54 holes a day in the summer and learn tp hone in our skills. Those were the days…
5. Nine Inch Nails (too many songs to list, but Closer, Hurt, March of the Pigs, to name a few)- Trent Reznor. WOW. What a human being. While a lot of my friends were listening to Marilyn Manson (don’t ask, I don’t know why), Rob Zombie (again, no clue), my brother introduced me to some amazing musical groups and artists, like NIN, Deep Purple, Underworld (oh, how I wish Underworld were still together!!), and I was introduced to dark ambient, industrial metal, and a whole new world of music that was created in ways most bands didn’t. I learned about Shinjuku Filth, the entire score to the movie Strange Days filled me with wonder over what the next millennium would bring. Sadly, we don’t have chips in our brains, live like every day is the end of the world, or have access to the internet in our minds. Though I think our smart phones are pretty damned close, and I DO love to wear me some black leather boots and dramatic eye makeup!!! Because that’s just what you did when it was the end of the world!!!
I could truly go on for hours more about the things that bring me back, but these were some of my biggest influences when I was a (pre)teen. Leave a comment and let me know what songs bring you back to your childhood!!!

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“Advice is the only commodity on the market where the supply always exceeds the demand.”  -Anonymous

So there I was. Sulking on the practice putting green at Evian Golf Club, trying to sort out what was going on with my stroke. I struck the ball adequately, but missed far too many putts in the first round. Missing putts while striking the ball well left me with a score of 73, ten shots behind the leader Stacy Lewis. Suffice to say I was rather despondent.

I was working on reading my putts better, especially with the left to right, downhill, touchy sliders heading toward le Lac Leman, or Lac Geneve, depending on which side of the lake you were on. After having been to the Evian for ten years, I thought that I had a pretty good indication on how much the lake would effect the speed of the putts. Plus I was working ferociously on my stroke, both at the golf course and in the hotel room, and finally felt comfortable with it again. Until teetime came. Then I was trying too hard. I made a few birdies, including an awesome birdie on the first hole, but could not convert the crucial par saving, momentum swinging putts I needed. I asked my caddy to let me be, to let me sort my putting on my own, mostly so I would be able to cry my frustrations out on my own. I am not the biggest fan of crying in front of others, and I hated the idea that I needed to cry, I needed to putt, and was going to have to combine the two together.

And there I was. Working on putts ranging from three to fifteen feet, with varying amounts of break, when up comes Andrew Dearden. He caddied for me in the past, and he is without question one of the finest caddies I have ever had the honor of working with. We spent the better part of nine months working together, and the better part of ten years becoming and staying friends. We can always laugh at things, he can always help me to focus or to get over a bad shot, and moreover, he knows what he’s doing because he truly cares. Not that other caddies I have had in the past didn’t care, but Andy and I have one of the best relationships of anyone on tour. He’s one of my best mates, and so between sniffles, he came over and started chatting. He said he saw me standing by myself (whereas most other years, I would be sitting with a crowd of folks having a few at the infamous Beer Garden next to the practice green) and we just talked. About everything. And anything. He mentioned he read my blog entry on my depression, and gave me a much needed slagging for having not talked to him about it, instead of the usual coddling I had been receiving from most of the people I came across. He told me how he didn’t understand what I was going through exactly, but he would always be there to provide a shoulder to lean on, an ear to jabber into, or a hand to smack some sense into me, if need be.

For those of you that have read my book, you know a bit about Andy. He’s from Manchester, England, has a foul , mouth that I love, and through his rough edges, is more loyal to his friends than anyone I have ever met. He has been there with me through thick and thin, and he has always known when I needed a joke or a hug. He is an unsung hero in my world, one who asks for nothing (though I do owe you that Scotty for wee Mark… Resend me the deets, por favor) but for the respect any human deserves.

Suffice to say, Andy’s chat had me from crying due to frustration to spewing tears of laughter in a matter of minutes, and my mind and soul felt cleansed again. Andy is such a wonderful man, and I am so damned lucky to have entered his small circle of friends. The next day, my stroke felt so much freer, with no burden of me “having to make the cut” or anything, that I managed to one putt my first seven holes enroute to a 67. I can’t recall the last time I shot 5 under. Most people probably can’t. And though a lot of it has to do with my diligence to work on my stroke after my poor round on Thursday, there is no question that Andy’s (mostly) kind words allowed me to release a little of what was still battling inside of me. And for that, I salute you, and I thank you Chief Dearden!

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