VERONICA KARAMAN: 'Dog Bone Open' Provides Test
Last Wednesday I lost the Dog Bone Open, the first stop in my competitive quest to qualify for the Women's Open at Pine Needles in June.
You've never heard of the Dog Bone Open, of course, and neither had I because, well, it didn't exist until I went to see Mary Ann Goslak for a video swing analysis.
I wasn't actually expecting such camaraderie or competition that day. I was just trying to find someone who could videotape my swing to see what kind of progress I was making in my lessons with Paul Barnsley. But the two-hour trip to Advance, to get Ann Marie's videotaping assistance proved more profitable than I thought.
I first heard of Ann Marie last year at the Open qualifier held at Salisbury Country Club, which by the way, happens to be the site of the first leg of this year's qualifier, too. The golf pro was handing out fliers for a new ladies golf tour Ann Marie was interested in starting that included a swing through North Carolina.
"Great!" I thought. "There is finally going to be some competition for women who aren't on the LPGA or on The Futures Tour."
Although there are a host of opportunities for men to play on mini-tours, nothing like this exists for the women apart from these two national tours. Nothing. It's a real dilemma. So I took a flier and tucked it away until this spring.
Thinking through the best way to prepare for the Open qualifier, I knew it was important to play in a few events before "the big day." I contacted Ann Marie, a popular teaching pro at Oak Valley Country Club, to find out what I could play in.
"Our first event is scheduled for mid-April," she said, "but I am still needing to find sponsors. We may have to postpone the first event until May."
"Bummer," I thought.
Getting in to the atmosphere of competition is key to playing well. I identified with her struggle to find events to play in, but was soon caught up in what I had been looking forward to all season -- a real taste of competition.
After my videotaping session, and securing Teddy-boy, my faithful canine travel companion, at the cart barn, we headed to the first tee.
"What are we playing for?" Ann Marie quickly asserted.
Upping the stakes five times over my normal social bet, I declared, "Five dollars ... and a dog bone." I added the dog bone part because Ann Marie was a fellow dog lover, too.
"We're on," she responded. "I'll tee off first to give you some guidance on where to hit," Ann Marie kindly offered. The mercy stopped there.
"Nice shot," I commented, as she thrashed her driver 250 yards down the center of the fairway. "Wow," I thought to myself. "This girl has got game!" I hit a good drive, too, but she clearly was out in front on the long-drive-o-meter.
Walking down the fairway, all of a sudden, it hit me. The rare atmosphere of professional competition. Just like it was when I was playing on the tour some years ago. I was playing in the company of a fellow professional lady golfer, someone with a skill level and desire to compete that was equal to or maybe greater than mine. I felt like I was breathing in a different oxygen, one that called me into the company of excellent play, more focused shot-making, and the deep desire to win. An eagle atmosphere.
A few holes later, Ann Marie noticed it, too.
"I'm feelin' it -- the atmosphere of competition. I was actually afraid to hit that shot, thinking I might miss it. And then I thought, 'This girl's got game. You better hit this shot.' And I did. It felt really good to hit a shot under pressure."
We battled it out through the first nine, both even on the match. Picking up Teddy-boy at the turn, we dashed off to the 10th tee. "He's thoroughly cart trained," I assured her as he hopped in between us on the seat. I birdied one hole and Ann Marie the next.
"You dog!" I playfully remarked as she sank her putt to go one up on the back. Teddy looked at me, with his head half-cocked, wondering what I was talking about. "I'll explain later," I said while petting his head.
We arrived at the last hole, even on the match. Waiting for the group ahead of us to tee off, Ann Marie remarked that the owner's son was ready to hit.
"Do you think he'll mind that we have a dog on the course?"
"No, it will be okay as long as Teddy-boy doesn't bark on his backswing."
Right then Teddy-boy caught wind of a squirrel and started to dash off the cart. Wrestling to keep him in the cart with all my might, I covered his eyes with my hand and whispered, "Don't bark, Teddy, whatever you do, don't bark."
Thankfully, he maintained himself, but I'm not so sure I did. Ann Marie sank a birdie putt on the last hole to win the match. She shot even par. I finished 2-over.
We stood in the parking lot as I spoke to an imaginary crowd of spectators and one faithful golf-savvy doggie. "Ladies and gentlemen, today you have witnessed a fierce match. I'd like to present to you the winner of the first Dog Bone Open, Miss Ann Marie Goslak."
Handing over her winnings, I basked in the thrill of competition for one more moment, although I hated the thought of losing, even if it was the Dog Bone Open. The moral of this week's story is if the love of competition is in you, you gotta let it out. Go ahead, let that dog hunt!
If you would like to promote ladies' golf by sponsoring an upcoming Ladies National Golf Tour event here in North Carolina, please contact Ann Marie Goslak at www.ladiesNGT.com or (336) 345-4633. Your help is needed to get this valuable tour started.
Veronica Karaman lives in Pinehurst. She is a golf professional, life coach and speaker. To learn more about Karaman's quest, visit www.truechampion coaching.com. She can be reached at veronica@truecham pioncoaching.com.
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