The first two rounds of the U.S. Women's Open are the slowest a
tour pro will ever play. I knew my group was going to be in for a
marathon day at the 1991 Open at Colonial Country Club in Fort
Worth when we had to wait 45 minutes on the 4th tee. By the time
we had reached the 14th hole, I was frustrated and bored, so I
made a political statement. I spotted a bank of pay phones and
sent my caddie over to order a pizza from Domino's, since it was
clear we were going to be on the course well past dinnertime. I
told him to tell the driver that in 45 minutes he should be able
to find us on the 17th tee. True to Domino's mission statement,
he was there waiting for us with a piping hot large cheese pie.
I blame most of the slow play on the players, not the USGA.
Hello, ladies, can we hurry it up? Playing in the Open is like
driving to the Hamptons for the weekend and getting stuck on the
Long Island Expressway--a beautiful journey ruined.
One way that the USGA keeps the Open genuinely open is by having
sectional qualifiers of only 18 holes (the men play 36). Many
players enter the qualifier just for the experience, never
really entertaining the thought of playing in the Open. When
they make it, they are out of their league, and they're
paralyzed by fear. The fact that everyone in the huge field tees
off only on the 1st hole means that one slow group can cause a
traffic jam of epic proportions.
Nevertheless, my greatest memories, besides winning the '89
Circle K, are playing in the Open. (I tied for third in '84.) I
won't be at Old Waverly in West Point, Miss., this week, but
here's some advice for my former colleagues: Put Tom Wolfe's A
Man in Full in your bag. It's more than 700 pages long, but trust
me, you'll have time to read 'em all.
June 6, 1999
Lori Garbacz is a teaching pro in New City, N.Y.