Last summer found me out of my element. Cast in to a world of women. Lots and lots of women. Some I know and others are total strangers. The Ladies Golf League. The dynamics that make up a group of women. Any women. And the sometimes eyerolling events that happen. Well last summer was an education into a world I don’t really know. It doesn’t matter what type of group. What activities they take part in. The age, the social or economic background, marital status, education level. None of it matters to the core. Because every group of women has certain key participants. We all see it on TV reality shows although in a much more dramatic way.
There are the leaders. Sometimes this a naturally occurring role. These people have the skills to organize and coordinate. They gradually assume the role as others often defer mainly because most are too lazy to take it on. We are grateful to these people as they make life easier for the rest of us. Then there are the ones who want to be the leader but recognize the natural leader is popular. They criticize the de facto leaders often behind closed doors. More as a whisper campaign trying to create a division in order to bolster their own popularity. Finally we have the newcomer. The gal who has a leadership role in her “real” life. She steps in loudly to show her qualifications but soon backs down as she realizes the commitment is too much. The leaders of the pack often have a subset of besties. Hangers on so to speak. There are also the go-along crowd. Self explanatory. There is usually someone most people do not like although she doesn’t seem to realize it. Some are friendly and welcome newcomers. Others are indifferent. The odd gal is just plain mean. There are friendships new and old some of which exist only in the group and some go back years through various common interests. People are there for a lot of reasons, not withstanding the golf. In the end it seems they belong. Or at least they try to. Then there was me. I am not a joiner or a girls weekend person. I do one on one quite well but groups? Well… it was interesting.
After my husband died I decided to sell the golf membership. Golfing was always a couples thing for us. One of the few things we had in common so we just did it together. Or with other couples now and again. Early spring, long before the course opened I dropped by the administrative offices at the Golf Course. After a short visit with the Manager I decided to wait a year before making a decision. His idea, not mine. He also had me purchasing Junior Member fees for five of my Grandchildren. And no, he isn’t a fantastic salesman. They gave me senior rates on my yearly fees even though I wasn’t yet a senior. They say I was Grandmothered in. Get it. Because my husband was a senior. Essentially with the discount I received it paid for all but one junior. Not bad. Brian argued that my husband would have been happy to see me golf with the Grands. He was right. Unlimited golf for five kids. I was busy. As I was preparing to leave the office, the Administrative assistant suggested I join the Ladies League. The look on my face made her laugh but somehow she caught me at a weak moment and before I could change my mind she had me all booked in and fully paid up. I left the course still full Owner of my Share, paid in full for the season, in possession of five junior seasonal passes and a new member in the world of Ladies Golf. Hmmm. Somehow, a short time later I was invited to participate in another Ladies Golf group by a friend from the past. So, there I was about to embark on a new adventure. And why not go all in. Nope. Don’t dip the toes in to see if the water is cold. Just take a running leap off the end of the pier and pray for success.
From the first day I felt like an undercover reporter. Almost like a fraud. People were kind and most knew I was a recent widow. I wasn’t really new. I probably knew over half of the women from somewhere in my past. It was a small town where I spent six and a half years. Not my home town really but my hubbies. Certainly none of the ladies were a part of my school age crowd, but many had crossed paths with me through my married life. Now the first round was played during the first spring of covid-19 and it had been touch and go as to whether or not people would be allowed to golf. I like to walk a course and it is fantastic exercise. At the end we all gathered on the outdoor patio. In order to sit far away from each other banquet tables were pushed together making what ended up being massive square tables with four people per table. Talk was loud since we were far apart and frankly some of the older gals are a little deaf. It was a lovely evening, we were having drinks on a patio after a game of golf. What could be better. Well… turns out not everyone was happy. It seems the new Pro had modified the league rules. Or format. Or something. You see, the ladies liked it the way it was the year before. How dare he! The whispers and discussions and sheer anger amazed me. I turned to my friend and asked point blank. “When does this league end?” She laughed. After all it was the first evening and I was already wondering if this was the place for me. One lady was so upset she quit that night, demanded a refund and her husband’s company pulled his sponsorship the next day. Interesting.
Well the weeks passed and between the two leagues I golfed with a large number of different gals. In time I found it to be rather amusing. One lady thought I didn’t try hard enough when I putt. I missed a lot of the short ones and she thought I did it on purpose. Keeps your handicap higher. Its called sandbagging. Jokes on her. I am just not that great at putting. There are those who play by the rules to the best of their ability and there are those who fudge some shots now and again. There are those who play out each hole to the bitter end and those whom pick up a ball three feet from the pin and call it a gimme. Some ladies like to tell others what to do or coach newer golfers. Others just like to chat and visit. Some know the etiquette other, not so much. One game, one of the gals kept track of every one of our shots and was just a little snarky if someone added a little wrong. There are prizes on the line so you do want people to be straight up but in the end its just fun. I have to admit there is always one person who I feel a connection with no matter where I go and so it was with the ladies golf. Her name was Val and she was like a twin separated at birth. That day was the most enjoyable golf game I have ever had and unfortunately it was the only day we golfed together. What a sweetie.
One of the biggest takeaways I had with the ladies was just how different they are from men. From what I can see, men are so focused on themselves and their game they don’t really notice what’s happening around them. The razz each other and poke fun but they all are quite competitive. Trying to out do the next guy. They only notice other groups if someone is slow in front of them. They do notice the beer cart girls though and not just for the beer. One afternoon there was a group of four teens in front of us. Keeping pace. Not slowing us at all. At one point a young man was standing on the side of the cart while his friend drove. They were laughing and having fun and I glanced over as I approached my shot wondering what all the ruckus was about. All of a sudden my playing partner was screaming and yelling at the youngsters. She ran towards them just full of rage. They were a bit startled as was I and they immediately sat properly in the cart. She continued yelling as they drove out of earshot. As she trudged back towards me she kept grumbling about those damn kids and proceeded to pull out her phone to call the pro shop. They had better send out a Marshall and right now! I admit perhaps they were a little out of line but I was trying to take a shot and she didn’t seem to notice that she was just as bad as the kids. No respect for me and my game. It was a little unsettling. Later on the patio we had a clear view of the ninth fairway which is cart path only. No driving carts on the fairway. Someone didn’t see the sign. One lady noticed and yelled at the golfers. Then another. And another. Until there was a whole group leaning over the rail shouting at the poor unsuspecting golfers who just missed the sign. I remember thinking to myself that if the patio had been full of a group of men they would all have been so busy replaying every single shot of the day that no one would have noticed a cart on the fairway. And of course there are the lovely serving gals too. Men and women are different. Doesn’t matter where they are or what they are doing.
I was glad to see the leagues come to and end. I had golfed more that summer than ever in my life. I was tired. It was time to put the garden to bed and the clubs in the closet. The seasons would change and I love that. But I made a decision to continue golfing. I bought some new clubs and gave my old ones to my oldest granddaughter. She was in grade nine and had out grown her junior set. Tall and lean she did more with those clubs than I ever did. And so the hand me downs continued. I am forever grateful to Brian for convincing me to stay with it for another year. This year I didn’t hesitate. I went in early and paid my fees. Juniors as well. And I joined both ladies leagues. Those are on hold for a couple of weeks but soon they will continue. I am not joiner, but I joined. I don’t do ladies things, but I belong to two ladies groups. You see I learned a very important lesson when my husband died. Women take care of women. Twice a week I golfed with three different ladies. Maybe I wasn’t like them. Maybe I didn’t feel I belonged. Frankly there were times where I thought I was in a nuthouse. In the end they cared for me. Talking. Bonding. Sharing their own experiences. They couldn’t take away my grief but twice a week for a few hours they let me talk about it and sometimes helped me forget about it. They took some of it off of my shoulders and it made it so much easier for me to bear.
This year on the first day I saw many familiar faces. I saw Val. My heart leapt. I forgot so many of the names but I was greeted by everyone as if they had known me for years. I realized my second year of therapy has started. I will be okay.