On Tuesday, May 20, I took my 13-year-old daughter Emily to the practice round of the LPGA Corning Classic. Her girl's golf program in Scranton, PA, ran a bus trip. What started out to be a great excuse to get out of school for the day turned into one of those days she will remember for the rest of her life.
We arrived around noon, ate a quick lunch, and then stated to walk around the clubhouse. Emily made a beeline for the empty grandstand. Sarah Kemp was walking up to the 18th green. We know this because after they finished putting, her caddie tossed Emily a signed ball. She fist pumped a big, yessssss! We had never heard of Sarah Kemp before that moment, but each day during the tournament we eagerly watched the standings. After two rounds, Sarah was in third place at 10-under. For this tournament, the biggest Sarah Kemp fan in the world was Emily. From now on, we'll check the standings every week for Sarah's position.
After getting the ball from Sarah, we walked over to the practice green. Natalie Gulbis' golf bag was right there in front of us. We have a picture of Emily with Natalie's bag next to her. After a few minutes of watching Natalie work on her putting stroke, Natalie came over and not only signed Emily's hat, but stood for a picture. It is one of those pictures with an ear-to-ear smile of shear joy. Emily had heard that Natalie Gulbis was going to be at the tournament and that was the one autograph she had to get on her hat.
If we had left the course at that moment, Emily's day would've been complete. So with hat in hand, she walked back over to the 18th green. Coming onto the green was Morgan Pressel, another signature on the hat and a quick picture…..wow - what a day. We walked back over to the putting green. And more pictures and autographs with Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie, and Brittany Lincicome.
After Emily had her picture taken with Michelle, she turned and said, "Dad, I've never been in one place where there were so many famous people…this is AWESOME!!!". A few minutes later, it seemed like many of the folks on the practice green had gone down to the driving range. So we followed.
Emily had watched some of the ladies putt for at least an hour and half before hitting balls for another extended period. I've been telling Emily for the past three years that if you want to be good at golf or school or anything in life, then you must practice. Everyone on the course that day hammered home that message.
More golf lessons as we walked with Kim Hall and Cristie Kerr on holes one through three. Emily noted every aspect of their swings. She even videotaped Kim Hall's swing on one of the tee shots. It was a picture perfect swing and we've watched it a 1,000 times. Our day was winding down with Perry Swenson coming off one of the greens. Since she was playing by herself, she stopped, gave Emily and two other girls a signed ball, and chatted. Emily had another friend in Perry as they traded Target stories…Target is Emily's favorite store.
The day ended with Christie Kerr and Kim Hall coming off the same green, a quick hat signing, a picture, and our day was complete. I'm sending you this note for two reasons. First my daughter had the time of her life. I know that for most of the golfers, this day was just another practice round in another city on your way to trying to make a living doing something that you love. But all of you were kind, courteous, and genuinely made my daughter feel like you were there for her. Thank you. Secondly, you taught her a couple of lessons that she will remember for the rest of her life… 1) hard work is required for great success and 2) famous people are real…sometimes they even like Target. On the Sunday, I logged on to see the final standings and Emily asked, "How did my friends do?"
Thank you all…we didn't make it up to for any of the tournament days at Corning, but we did find a way to get tickets for the final day of the U.S. Women's Open at Saucon Valley.
Best wishes to all who make the LPGA possible.
If you have a positive story to tell, feel free to email it to email@example.com and it will be posted in the For the Love of the Fans section.
Topics: For the Love of the Fans