Amateur diary: Adventures in New Mexico
In the last 10 days I have visited five different states, slept under four different roofs, and played in three different golf tournaments. In light of this, my next installment will in fact be two ... parts that is.
My adventures began after I last wrote that I was preparing for a week of solitude since both my Denver University grad roommates Kim and Dawn would be out of town golfing and taking holidays. This week was going to serve as a sort of “get to know your area” period so that I could get better acquainted with my new base town. However, after spending 24 hours alone in the apartment I decided to opt out and road trip it down to visit my dear friends Katie Kempter and Britney Choy – or B-Choy – in New Mexico instead. And let me tell you, it was an excellent choice.
Alison Whitaker, 24, will file a weekly diary on Golfweek.com to give you an insider’s view of life during her transition from college to professional golf.
Katie (LPGA and University of Denver grad) is the friend that always does things for other people yet rarely does anything to treat herself. In light of this, B-Choy and I decided that it would be a great idea to set up a little surprise. I jumped on I-25 and headed south journeying alongside the Rocky Mountains and through the plains, until I reached the outskirts of Albuquerque. Now, when most people get surprised they react with high pitch squeals and fanning hand movements. Our friend Katie however, chose a different route when she saw us. Katie looked confused, happy, then borderline angry; changing her focus from Britney to me, to Britney, to me. We could practically hear her worlds colliding between her ears! But, after a minute or two Katie put the pieces together and managed to settle down for a delightful bite of homemade Japanese curry. Over the next few days, we crammed a lot into a little amount of time. Between meals, workouts and practice, we managed to hit up a few of Albuquerque’s more best tourist attractions.
The first stop was Old town; a vibey little strip that has a bunch of galleries and jewelry stores, hidden along some cobblestone alleyways. We stopped for a bite to eat and wandered through the numerous Green Chile specialist stores and eventually decided that we still had enough time to head up north (literally) for the afternoon.
We got to the bottom of the Sandia Mountains and as I stared up at the looming 10,378 feet trek my hands got a little clammy! The Sandia Peak tramway – don’t worry, we didn’t walk up the extra 4,000 feet from the base – was built in 1966 and is 2.7 miles in length. The trip was pretty cool (after I checked the cable strength and door locks). We scooted over canyons, up the mountains and went for a picturesque (pronounced picture-scue in my household) stroll around what, in winter time, would be ski runs. It was about 20 degrees cooler up top, and considering the storms that were circling like sharks, we decided to head back down the mountain.
Three days later I found myself heading out of Denver again, with my sights set on the Tennessee Women’s State Open in Crossville. Crossville, I found out, is a pretty small little country town. They have an ice cream shop, gas station, a pizza place, a post office, an icecream shop … wait, did I mention that already? I guess what im trying to say is that the town was small; lucky for Crossville its heart is big. Katie and I camped out for the week on the 10th tee. The Rangers, the family that housed both Katie and my roomie Dawn stayed with last year, live about 50 yards away from the practice range, 10th tee and the practice green. In other words, it was really comfortable and very convenient. The town of Crossville put on a great dinner for the players, caddies and host families and we all enjoyed the band, the barbeque and yes, even the Mayor was there. Everyone in attendance was given a t-shirt in the hopes of generating a record breaking 1,000 person crowd on the 18th hole during the final round. From a player’s prospective, a nail-biting 5 foot putt in front of 2,000 anxious eyes on the 54th hole is what we love about golf, and although the town came up a bit short, the fact that the city was trying to give us the experience was pretty cool in itself.
The first round finally came around and so did the rain … in buckets. About an hour before my tee time, a storm whipped through, offloading an absolute deluge over the players already on the course and range. The course received over two inches in a little over an hour and the ground staff miraculously got us back on track after only a two hour delay. The course help up well during the week and I managed to come in ninth despite some average putting.
Next stop on the tournament schedule was Nebraska for the Trans National Women’s Championship. There was golf, pottery and corn. Stay tuned for part two of my summer adventure series!