Discovering the LPGA

June 21, 2004
June 21, 2004

Table of Contents
June 21, 2004


Discovering the LPGA

Last Saturday, I brought two helpers to work, my daughter, Alina,
and her friend Lisa Winder. Two nine-year-olds working their
first golf event, the McDonald's LPGA Championship at the DuPont
Country Club, in Wilmington, Del. There wasn't a cloud in the

This is an article from the June 21, 2004 issue

We started in the players' parking lot, where they saw Nancy
Lopez's golf bag, Juli Inkster's courtesy car and Amy Alcott in
the flesh, who cheerfully signed their notebooks and said, "O.K.,
girls." Moments later the girls were walking by a display of the
23 LPGA Hall of Famers, where they found pictures of Lopez and
Inkster and Alcott, and also Betsy Rawls and Patty Berg and Carol
Mann. "Look," Alina said, "they used to wear skirts!"

We walked by the 9th green where Betsy King, another Hall of
Famer, was lining up a putt. I first went to the McDonald's in
1987 to write about King. I had a helper that week, too--my wife,
Christine, although she wasn't yet my wife. We were on our third
date. After the golf we went to the Charcoal Pit, the original
one. Best burger in all of Delaware.

Both girls have duffer fathers and other ties to golf. For
instance, Lisa's cousin is married to Tommy Lamb, Brad Faxon's
caddie. They know about Tiger and Annika and Michelle Wie and a
few others. I explained more than once that Wie was not playing.
She was in England for the Curtis Cup, awing the Brits, from the
overseas reports. My helpers were in denial. Every time they saw
a player of Asian descent one or the other would ask, "Is that
Michelle Wie?"

They wanted to follow Annika, so we did. At one point Alina and
Lisa were chitchatting obliviously on a cart path between holes
when Annika walked right around them. "We could have touched
her," Lisa said. Annika was playing with Lorena Ochoa and Aree
Song, two excellent young players. Alina and Lisa decided that
Annika was the least uptight of the three, for the following

1. Only Annika wore her shirttail out. (The other two had their
shirts tucked in tight.)

2. Only Annika responded to her good shots with a fist pump. (The
others showed little emotion.)

3. Only Annika wore hoop earrings. (The others wore posts or--get
this--no earrings at all.)

At one point Alina, a curious sort, asked, "Is Annika sarcastic?"

"No," I said. "Not that I've ever heard."

Alina looked pleased.

Men have been gushing since the Dead Ball era about the pleasures
of taking their sons to a baseball game, but let me tell you,
watching your daughter and her friend cotton to ladies' golf is
an underreported delight. (Disney will appropriate it, one
imagines, soon enough.) I loved watching the girls watching the
pros' tee shots, squatting under the yellow gallery ropes, moving
their chins from one shoulder to the other to follow a sailing

The girls, notebooks in hand, polled spectators to determine the
most popular golfer in the field. There were 11 votes for
Sorenstam, one vote for Meg Mallon (cast by your correspondent)
and one vague vote for Kim, a name that appeared six times on the
draw sheet but only once as a first name, by Alina's count. Ochoa
flipped her ball to Lisa coming off the 15th green and signed it
for her with a red Sharpie after the round. One vote for Lorena,
before the day was out.

Alina asked me one especially endearing question: "Why are your
drives in the air longer than the lady players' drives?"

She knows nothing about my 91.2 stroke average or the crookedness
of my tee shots. Have I said anything about the pleasures of
having a daughter?

Alina and Lisa watched Sorenstam reel off a string of birdies and
take over the tournament, setting up her seventh major win. They
saw a legend at the peak of her powers--Bonds in the year he hit
73. They met the great Betsy King. The Hall of Famer shook their
bony little hands and said, "Hello, girls." Walking to the car
Lisa announced that she wants to become a journalist when she
grows up.

After the golf we stopped at the Charcoal Pit and got burgers to
go and ate them on the road. Next year the missus wants to go
back as my helper.

COLOR PHOTO: DARREN CARROLL NEW FANS Alina (center left) and Lisa checking out the pros.

Let me tell you, watching your daughter and a friend cotton to
ladies' golf is an UNDERREPORTED DELIGHT.