Just home from one of the most grueling press trips in the golf world, the Golf the High Sierra Media Tour, I got out the calculator and the mirror: 152 holes in seven days, and smiling.
The only woman among a couple of dozen men, I played eight 18-hole rounds, including two doubles, and sensibly cut short one round when weather intervened. I also did my best to explore the friendly confines of Reno, Carson City, South Lake Tahoe, Incline, Truckee and Plumas County.
Yet, I actually want to play golf again today — even though my knees and hips snapped and crackled through this morning’s yoga class. Here, my secrets to how you too can survive a golf overdose:
- Play at a brisk pace. Golf can be utterly engaging for 3 hours, quite satisfying for 4 hours, and quite exhausting for anything more than that. And it doesn’t matter if you walk or ride: It is the time spent waiting that wears a player out, mentally and physically. Besides, if you’re playing Silver Oak this morning and another 18 this afternoon at Edgewood, you want to be
sure to leave time for lunch and a mojito at Brooks’ Bar & Deck.
- Party in moderation. The first night of the tour, after the opening round at Somersett Golf & Country Club, I had two cocktails at Reno’s Chocolate Bar. Couldn’t resist the Espresso Martini! Then, two glasses of wine at Campo. Next morning, ugh! The altitude exaggerated the effects of the alcohol, and for the rest of the week I stuck to a two-drink limit with dinner. By the way, when I asked the guys who had had a late night, one raised his hand to say he stayed out until 11:30 one night. (He was a youngster.)
- Know when to say when. When huge winds and rain stirred at Dayton Valley one afternoon, the format was adjusted to scramble. When the temperature dropped 30 degrees just as we approached the clubhouse after 8 holes, my group retired to the bar and mingled with the lively, active community of golfers who call Dayton Valley home. A few guys played 18 — but as I recall, not many of them got up the next morning to play at 7:30 at Silver Oak in 45-degree weather. Too bad for them, the Carson City views were awesome.
- Plan a lesson in the middle of the binge. After I had my meltdown at Old Greenwood (109, worst score of the year, despite the best conditions of the courses), Keith Lyford at the Golf Academy calmly straightened me out. Even better, he improved me. Can’t wait to see that video!
- Plan a massage the morning after you play 36 holes in a day. Had mine at the Hyatt Incline Village’s Stillwater Spa and was able to swing the club again that afternoon at Truckee’s Coyote Moon — the prettiest course on the tour. My only regret — opting for the 50-minute Golfer’s Massage instead of the 80-minute treatment.
- Pack prudently. This overloaded itinerary often mysteriously omits time to shower and change between golf and dinner — much less agonize over “What should I wear?” The day before I left, I studied the itinerary and the weather and chose my outfits. Each was on its own hanger in the car, and I could bring just one into the hotel each night, along with my overnight bag and toiletries.
- Bring lots of shoes. Even the men changed shoes when playing two rounds in a single day; not having to fly, I didn’t settle for just two pair. My feet are tired but not damaged. Also I had my Ecco street shoes to transition easily from Plumas Pines golf to Plumas Pines dinner at Longboards — the most complete golf stop on the tour, Plumas Pines even has a great pro shop for buying even more shoes!
- Be in good company, or at least pretend you are. Friends, it is not easy to play outside of your comfort zone, on unfamiliar courses and with folks you’d otherwise never invite into your foursome. I tried imagining myself at a dinner party, and did my best to make nice and minimize the inevitable whining that goes with golf. I also milked my companions for help when I needed it, and Grizzly Ranch director of golf Van Batchelder offered valuable tips during a few memorable holes at what is becoming the hot golf destination for Reno visitors.
- Bring a small cooler and ice pack. I checked in to Reno’s Eldorado (has it all — casino, entertainment, restaurants, great rooms) on the first night; Carson City’s Hampton Inn (new spot with best hotel breakfast ever) on the second; South Lake Tahoe’s Avalon Lodge (a luxury update of an old Tahoe motel) on the third; Incline’s Hyatt (recently renovated rooms in a happening property) on the fourth; Truckee’s Cedar House Sports Lodge (contemporary comfort with Euro style and the new hot restaurant in town) on the fifth; and Clio’s Molly’s B&B (pristine, comfortable rooms with antique style) on the sixth. My makeup and potions had to survive many hot hours in the car.
- Indulge in fine dining, but do it your way. This trip has gone beyond golf to become a nightly foodie-fest. We had six exquisite dinners, starting at Campo, the new hotspot in downtown Reno. Then, on to The Basil (my favorite, an amazing restaurant in downtown Carson City with the most creative presentations I’ve ever seen), Ciera Steak + Chop House (in Southshore’s MontBleu Resort), Lone Eagle Grille (the second-busiest restaurant in the entire Hyatt stable, also known for great steak), Dragonfly (creative cuisine with an Asian bent in Truckee) and Longboards at the Plumas Pines golf course (a real find, where chef Sean Conry puts his spin on pastas, salads and beef). I love meat but it doesn’t love me, so I indulged in halibut, swordfish and rockfish while others were having steaks and Longboards’ glorious ribs. I felt spoiled every night and fantastic every day.
Best of all, when I got home, after checking the calculator and the mirror, I got out the scale: No new pounds.