Well, the start of my rookie year has been very interesting, traveling half way across the world to play in my first four tournaments, starting in Thailand, then moving to Singapore, and finishing up in Australia. Let's just say I've been racking up my frequent flyer miles (once I actually figure out how to register for and submit them). And so far, after two events, it has been quite the learning experience. I didn't realize how much I have left to learn on being a player on the tour. And it's all little things, like the shuttle rides from the airport to the golf course are taken care of (I was very stressed about this before leaving the States), that traveling lighter is not just better but a necessity, which airlines allow three bags and which ones have a cow if you have more than two and charge you an arm and a leg for being the ridiculous American that needs two suitcases AND a golf travel bag, the SPF needed in Thailand and Singapore (really I suggest 100+, SPF45 just doesn't cut it), where to eat, what to eat, which calling cards work, how many practice rounds I need…etc. It's a learning curve out here on the Tour.
My first tournament was the Honda PTT LPGA Thailand event in Pattaya, Thailand. It was amazing! A lot hotter and more humid than I thought it would be, however. I put SPF45 on everywhere and still found body parts to burn. I didn't realize your hands could burn, and yes! I put 45 on them too! It probably didn't help that my extremities looked like OB stakes to begin with, but still, the sun is very intense there. The spectating was different too. It was a mix between flattering and intimidating on how much the Thai fans wanted our autographs and pictures; my hand still hurts and I wasn't even close to the leader board. The hotel itself was located on the beach and in the middle of downtown Pattaya, so there were a lot of food choices (touristy places); it was great. Also, the people in the hotel and running the tournament were so friendly and helpful. It was a pleasant surprise, for I thought I was going to have to fend for myself and stumble through the language barrier, but except for a few amusing mix-ups (like trying to find my laundry that was accidentally done for me), it was very manageable.
The HSBC Women's Champions tournament in Singapore was also an exciting and informative experience, even though I didn't play well at all. I didn't know that Singapore is a huge, bustling, clean, and affluent city (I was expecting it to be a tourist destination with a lot of beaches, resorts and pina coladas). It is basically a very clean and slightly smaller NYC on an island. As a citizen, you actually have to have a license (determined by a lottery) to own a car because they don't want the roads to be too congested and polluted. It was also very sunny and humid, but I had my base burns so I was okay. I would much rather be hot and sweating than freezing in tons of layers looking like the Michelin Man. At both tournaments I helped lead the junior clinics. I was in charge of the driving range, which was a lot of fun despite the heat. I love kids and enjoy public speaking, so this was my cup of tea. The group in Singapore actually hit, and I was very impressed with their games. Several times they were so good all I could say was, "Wow, great swing, keep it up!" Like Thailand, the people took such great care of us and helped us just focus on golf. Getting to Singapore and staying at the hotel was so wonderful and easy. Leaving, however, was another story all together. Can you say brutal? Travelers BEWARE! Do not, I repeat, DO NOT bring more than two bags when traveling on Qantas! They charge $45 per kilo for the extra bag. So my lightest suitcase weighed a little under 50 lbs. and they were going to charge me $900! I was on the verge of tears~ the stuff inside didn't cost that much. So I did some innovative reshuffling in the middle of the airport while receiving death stares from the foot-tapping people behind me in line. It still cost a lot. Oh, and somehow in the mad shuffle, my cosmetic bag was separated and not put in a suitcase, and when I realized, it was too late, my stuff had disappeared on the conveyor belt and into the secure area (p.s. tears do not work on the airport people checking you in), so all my liquids (face wash, perfume, lotion…) had to be thrown away. You guys might not get this, but that's huge in a girl's world. Lesson learned: next time, I am bringing a lot less.
Right now I am in Brisbane, Australia, about to play in the ANZ Ladies' Masters, and then I will finish up in Melbourne for the Women's Australian Open. So far this has been an exciting (and eventful) start to my rookie year. Keep your fingers crossed for the next two events and that I don't get into a brawl with the person weighing my bags in the next airport. It could get ugly.
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