The phases of a woman’s life with golf: Where are you?

If you play golf, you’ll see yourself in these golf phases. If you’re thinking about taking up golf, here’s what you have to look forward to.

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A WOMAN’S LIFE with golf goes through many phases. This weekend alone, you’ll surely experience “I hate it, I hate it, I love it, I love it.” Those are the microphases that accompany any round of golf.

Here, we talk about the bigger golf phases, the ones that may last years plus a few that if you’re lucky you’ll skip. See where you fall.


Piqued Patti has just watched the Solheim Cup or the U.S. Women’s Open and has started to imagine herself playing golf. Maybe she just turned 8. Or maybe she’s 25 or 55 and one of her girlfriends is dating a cool guy she met at a driving range, or she’s 30 or 40 and the family next door heads out every Saturday afternoon for nine holes together. Whatever her age and whatever the catalyst, her interest has been piqued and she’s mentioned to a few friends that she might like to take up the game.

Nellie Newbie has completed a five-lesson package, maybe with Get Golf Ready, a community college or her local recreation department. She keeps practicing at the range and has been on the golf course a few times, but she’s a nervous Nellie when it comes to golf with people she doesn’t know very well. The rules and the etiquette intimidate her, and there are never enough beads to count her score. Plus, she doesn’t have a skort yet and her wardrobe is short on comfortable collared shirts.

Hooked Hannah is as infatuated with golf as if it is her first love. She wants to play every course and learn everything she can about the game. Hannah has golf books and videos, and she’s the one who emails you the link to the latest funny golf video-gone-viral. She likes fun golf clothes, and if she’s young and fit she emulates Michelle Wie’s style. Her game is improving fast, but she still doesn’t have an official index or handicap and isn’t sure why she’d want one.

Linda Leaguer has finally joined a USGA-sanctioned golf club. She knows her index and how to convert it into the course handicap for wherever she’s playing today, she wears outfits she buys in pro shops and she attempts to play by the rules. In fact, speed of play, golf shops and the rules are favorite topics of conversation at the 19th hole, where she usually lunches with the rest of her foursome. When she meets Hooked Hannah, Linda recruits her to join her club and start playing competitively.

Deliberate Debbie doesn’t realize she’s holding up the show. She’s had so many lessons and watched so many pro golfers, her head is filled with do’s and don’ts. It takes her a while to take her turn because she won’t laser or prepare for her shot until she is the one who is farthest out from the hole. When she finally stands over the ball she takes several practice swings because one teacher told her not to take a shot until she has made a practice swing she likes. Her companions speed up to keep the foursome in front in their sights and they’re getting irritated about it. But no one wants to talk to Debbie about it.

Irritated Irma is the woman in the foursome behind Debbie who is screaming, “Play your shot!” Irma would rather rush her own shot than keep others waiting, so slow play makes her furious. Why is Irma in such a hurry to get off the golf course? Does she need that 19th-hole cocktail? Maybe, like most women, she’s busy and feels the tiniest bit guilty about the time she spends (wastes?) playing golf. She doesn’t practice much, arrives shortly before her tee time, and carries a brush and lipstick in her golf bag because she doesn’t fuss over grooming before golf.

Gail Golfer played golf in college, wins the club championship and plays in state and regional competitions. When she wins another trophy, the women’s golf community shrugs and says, “Oh, her again?” Yet, she’s emulated whenever possible. The women around her want to know her fitness regimen, her meal plan, her practice schedule — anything that might help them become as good at golf. She wears athletic golf attire and comfortable shoes, has played all the famous golf courses and knows who to call when she needs a lesson or a caddie.

Susie Social has joined a club to meet new people. She says she isn’t interested in competition or in improving her game, she’s just out enjoying the fresh air and the good company. She does her hair and makeup before her tee time and wears stylish golf fashions that are coordinated with her hat or visor. When there’s a rules question or issue, her response is, “Oh, whatever.” She complies and does what she’s told to so that no one is upset with her. She tends to prefer nine holes to 18 and wonders why there isn’t a 12-hole option.

Tammy Twilight used to have a single-digit index, but she’s lost distance and her putting has grown shaky. Now that her kids are grown and her husband’s retired, she plays golf to escape the house for some female camaraderie. But the years of golf have served her well and she can still sneak out a cagey match-play victory or beat her course handicap now and then. She isn’t sure how long she will be playing, and that makes her all the more determined to enjoy the game while she can.


Editor’s note: All names were chosen for alliteration. Any resemblance to someone with the same first name is purely accidental.

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