Amateur diary: Causing a scene in Nebraska

(Left to right) Anna Christenson, “the farmer” and Alison Whitaker in Nebraska.

(Left to right) Anna Christenson, “the farmer” and Alison Whitaker in Nebraska.

Our alarm sounded at 2:30 a.m., and let me tell you, it hurt! Katie (Kempter, a University of Denver graduate) and I had scheduled a car service to pick us up from Crossville at 3 a.m. so that we could make the two-hour journey to the Nashville airport with relative ease. Once we made it to BNA, we went our separate ways. Katie headed back to ABQ and I had a date with Lincoln . . . the town that is.

I landed in Nebraska to discover that neither of the airport’s two baggage claims had my bags. A three-hour bag delay proved to be a blessing in disguise since it gave me and Denver golfer/guide/native Nebraskan Anna Christenson a chance to scope out downtown Lincoln.

Amateur diary

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.

The town was pretty cool, and for Anna it brought back a lot of memories since she lived in Lincoln until she graduated from high school. Perhaps one of the coolest shops we stumbled across was a place called Paint Yourself Silly. As the name suggests, it’s a studio where kids (and recent college grads) pick out ceramic animals, photo frames or coffee mugs and paint their own genius designs on them. Having just moved into a new apartment, I thought a trip to this store may provide me with an epic chance to contribute something to the décor of our new place. So Anna, Sarah (DU player) and Erin (our host for the week and Anna’s childhood best friend) decided that painting ourselves silly would be a great way to spend a post-golf round afternoon.

photo

Let me prep you a little before I tell you about my creation. I paint at about a sixth, maybe fifth grade level. The girls and I cut a deal to refrain from painting judgment, and away we went. I created a delightfully ugly plate that I intend on guilting my roommates into putting in an insanely noticeable place in the apartment.

As for Trans National Women’s Championship, Lincoln Country Club was short but tight. I qualified fifth out of 64 players and made it through to the Round of 16 before I ran into a girl with a hot putter. After the tournament was over, the girls and I indulged in some of the traditions normally played out by Lincoln High School students on weekends – hanging by the lake whilst listening to music, and later watching the boys have a “my potato gun goes further than yours” playoff. I grew up in Australia going to high school by the beach so the country changeup was a welcomed trip down someone else’s memory lane.

We packed up our car the next day and headed back to Denver for the Colorado Women’s Match Play. The drive from Lincoln to Denver was really pretty. The setting sun turned the corn fields from a bright green to a warm orange. Determined to find the perfect corn-field setting for a blog photo, Anna, Sarah and I kept driving in the hopes we would stumble upon an unsecured corn field that would enable us to take some pictures amongst the crops. So we kept driving and driving and driving, until all of a sudden there were no more corn fields. Anna and I decided to stop at the next corn field we saw since we were starting to suspect we had missed our last photo opportunity a few miles back.

photo

We drove a little longer until we spotted a corn field straddling a highway exit. After pulling over to the side of the road, we jumped the two-foot fence and were well on our way to beginning a mini corn-themed photo shoot when a pick-up truck turned into the nearby driveway. We all froze. Lucky for us the car kept driving. We took a few happy snaps amongst the corn, until we again heard the rumbling of tires driving up the gravel road. Sarah confirmed that it was the same car. At this point we were sure that trouble was coming our way. The car pulled in behind us and the passenger side window descended revealing a farmer in his 50s.

“Everything ok out here?” he asked.

After explaining to the man what we were doing and that we meant no harm to his corn I went out on a limb.

“Would you mind if we got a photo with you and your corn?” I asked.

He was happy to jump out and take some happy snaps in front of his pride and joy. We were very thankful that we were greeted by a nice man who had no plans of chasing us off his property with a shotgun in hand. We took the photos and again we set off on our journey home.

Two days later I was teeing up in the first round of the Colorado Women’s Match Play. I shot 1 under to qualify second for the tournament and managed to pull together some pretty good golf for the week. I shot 6 under to win my first match, 9 and 7; 5 under to win the second, 5 and 3; 1 under to win the third, 2 and 1; and 11 under in 29 of the 36-hole final to win the championship, 9 and 7. Over the last few weeks my ball striking is the best it has ever been, but my putting has really let me down. I knew if I stayed patient – like my former Duke coach Dan Brooks always used to tell us – that eventually the putts would fall. And it was cool to have it all come together in my last regular summer season tournament for the year.

I am currently taking a week off to visit my friends on the Duramed Futures Tour in Richmond, Va. I’m staying in a rental house with three of the players. I have no doubt that I will have more inside-the-ropes stories for you by the week’s end!

Keep golfing and smiling!

Alison.

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