Sunday, August 2, 2009

Futures Tour Saturday: Onechan & Imoto @ Drumlins

Yesterday, onechan, imoto, Grandpa Bob, Grandma Joy, and I drove from Clinton to Syracuse to meet my uncle at Drumlins, the site of this week's Futures Tour event. I was hoping that imoto's 2nd tournament and onechan's 3rd would be the one where we could meet a lot of up-and-coming golfers and find other players for onechan to be crazy about than Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis, and Karrie Webb. Instead, I finally learned the lesson that when you take 2 girls under 6 to a golf tournament, the actual golf itself is about at the bottom of the list of priorities. Fortunately, I'll be able to return this afternoon, if the weather holds up, and experience a tournament by myself for the 1st time since the PGA at Oak Hill. But even though the golf took a back seat yesterday, the trip as a whole was most excellent.

Well, except for the part where the tired girls (they had stayed up past 11 the night before b/c they were so excited to be at Grandma and Grandpa's house again and refused to sleep in that morning--something about the surprises they knew were waiting for them yesterday morning pulled them out of bed) got cranky on the car ride up to Drumlins. I don't know if they had used up all their good behavior on the ride from Dunkirk (imoto sleeping, onechan keeping me company), if my being in the back seat with them encouraged more emotional drama than usual, or what, but onechan would say nothing but, "I'm tired" for the last half-hour and imoto kept trying to slip out of her seatbelt and sit on my lap. At least we timed the trip well; we got there as the morning groups were teeing off (thanks to a rain delay, they had had to finish Friday's rounds earlier that morning). With the 1st and 10 tees right by the putting green, chipping area, pro shop, and clubhouse, there was certainly a lot for the girls to see. But we had to beat a hasty retreat into the air conditioning and order an early lunch to head off mutually reinforcing meltdowns. At least I got to see Tiffany Joh tee off while the girls were hanging with grandma, waiting for the lunch orders to arrive, which gave me a chance to bust out my typical sparkling pre-round banter with her ("Good luck today, Tiffany"), with only my dad as witness. I don't know, I hate bothering players right before they start a round. My mom's more outgoing than me, so when she took onechan to the bathroom, they ended up getting into a short conversation with Caroline Larsson outside it.

When lunch was done, and little golf caps had been purchased for the girls from the bargain bin, we headed over to the 9th/18th greens to watch the earliest groups come in and wait for Hannah Yun's pairing to make the turn onto the less hilly front side. Onechan drew a picture of Mallory Hetzel (I had to ask someone who she was) that I hope to post here tomorrow--right before she sank a nice downhill birdie putt on the 9th. In fact, we got to see a lot of birdies on the 9th while we were waiting. Or rather, between reminding onechan not to kick the aluminum bleachers, keeping imoto from running inside the ropes, catching wind-blown paper that imoto forgot about as soon as she had finished drawing on it, and helping imoto collect clover flowers for onechan to make into a necklace, I got to see a couple of putts actually drop. But overall the girls were pretty good, although onechan wasn't quite as quiet as she had been at the Wegmans this year. It helped a lot to have Grandma Joy watching onechan while I took imoto back to the clubhouse for various bathroom breaks (no accidents until just before bed time, fortunately)!

I learned the hard way that you can't count on Grandpa Bob to keep an eye on imoto, though. Onechan was looking for 4-leaf clovers and flowers by a shack to the left of the 18th green, so imoto had wandered over to help her but got distracted by the yellow rope blocking spectators from both the green and the pond side of the fairway. Grandpa Bob was watching the group before Yun's size up their chips and birdie putt so intently that he didn't notice imoto crash face-first into the metal pole holding up the rope that she had been following like a cable car. She hadn't been going very fast, so it wasn't that scary, but she fell backwards literally 5 feet behind a golfer deciding what club to use on her chip. As I rushed over from the 9th green, less than 25 feet away, I was proud to see how tough the 3-year-old was being. She just held her mouth until I picked her up and moved her away from the player, then buried her face in my shoulder and didn't make a sound until the chip was completed. She was up and about collecting flowers for onechan within the minute. Way to go, imoto!

So when Yun's group came through (Hannah made a nice up-and-down from the fringe to save par after her approach had landed softly on a ridge that was supposed to kick it toward the cup; her partners both had great birdie chances but couldn't convert them), I was optimistic enough to try to get the girls to follow her for 4 holes (or 7 if I was lucky). Onechan and I had done 4 with grandpa and grandma and 3 and a half on our own at Locust Hills, but even with Grandma Joy's help this time, we didn't make it halfway down the 2nd fairway at Drumlins. Even though the front is flatter than the back, it was still pretty hilly by onechan and imoto's standards. With so many parallel fairways and adjacent green/tee complexes, there was no place to run or hide if the girls decided to go vocal with their discontents, so Grandma Joy and I were doing a lot of juggling. Sometimes I'd walk with 1 sister, sometimes the other; sometimes I'd carry one girl; sometimes the other. Yun had hit a great drive and had what looked like a hybrid into the short par-5 in 2, but even though it looked like a great shot, tracking toward the pin, it kicked off the left side of the green and she couldn't get up and down for her birdie from well below the hole. That was about the extent of the golf I saw there, as the girls had discovered the snack shack near the 7th green and 2nd and 11th tees. A quick bathroom break for imoto, a quick drink at the water fountain, and we were half a hole behind Yun's group. When we realized we weren't catching them, we decided to hang out in a little tree tunnel behind the 4th green while one group was finishing up there, then backtrack down the 7th fairway (where a local tv crew was waiting for one pairing) and make our way back to the practice area to hook up with Grandpa Bob and watch Libby Smith tee off.

Well, it took us so long to get back even to the snack shack that I got to see Joh's group on the 1st green (including a bad bogey from Christine Song, who it turns out had been playing well up to that point) and even talk to the famous Mamma Joh for a little while (turns out it's Tiffany's inconsistent driving that's been her Achilles heel lately). That was about the time imoto discovered the joy of filling her water bottle at the fountain, then pouring it out on the grass near the green, and running back to the snack shack to rinse and repeat. And that was right after onechan, seeking a shortcut and making a wrong turn around a tree, almost ran out into the 2nd fairway while a group was hitting off the tee before Grandma Joy could pull her back. And that was before imoto remembered that she liked onechan's golf cap better than her own and started letting us know about it again. So everyone's nerves and tempers were a little frayed by the time we finally made it back to the practice area.

Solution? Ice cream, of course! Drumlins has a pool area right behind the 9th green, which is where a clubhouse waitress directed us to find that magical substance. And boy did it work its magic on the girls. They played with the flags surrounding the practice green, trying to grab them during lulls in the wind. They climbed over golf carts (I had to be quick in turning them off before imoto accidentally hit the gas!). Then I pretended to throw them onto the clubhouse roof to distract them while my dad looked for Smith and her dad. They had just succeeded in tackling me and wrestling me to the ground when he came over to tell me he had found her. So reluctantly I took the girls over to the 1st tee, worried that their sugar highs were going to lead to a noise incident. But my worries were unfounded and we got to see Esther Choe and eventual co-leader Jenny Suh tee off with Smith, who has a very powerful, athletic swing (she played college basketball and was a standout on the men's golf team at the University of Vermont, my dad told me [again]), but who pulled her drive badly. And that was pretty much that. We retreated to my aunt and uncle's house, let the girls play/fight for a couple of hours, watched Tiger on tv, and checked real-time scoring. Even with play suspended, Yun and Smith will definitely miss the cut, which will fall at +4 when the last threesome finishes their last hole and a half (last week's winner Misun Cho will have to stay there to keep playing). But T-Joh made it with 2 shots to spare!

So now I have a dilemma. If I'm playing well after 9 holes this morning with my dad, do I keep going? If Ai Miyazato is in contention at the Women's British Open, do I take advantage of the rare concurrent not-quite-live-blogging/tv-watching experience? Or do I go follow the players I'm interested in on my own at Drumlins?

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