Amateur diary: Castles, singing and sushi

Alison Whitaker

I do most of my writing while I’m travelling. I don’t know if it’s because the not-so-soothing sound of an engine brings out my pensive reflections or whether it’s the only time I truly get to sit back and let the week’s events digest. Right now I’m currently flying over snow-littered mountains, thirsty plains and canyons that look as though they were created by giant tunneling worms. I’ve left Colorado for the first time since the move and I’m headed to meet up with PGA sport physio guru Ramsey McMaster in L.A. before flying to my other home, Melbourne, Australia (for a month-long visit).

The week that has come to pass has held both challenges and triumphs. I left off my last blog as I drove in to the realms of Denver; and yes, unpacking did prove as time consuming as I first thought. After getting settled and warming up the golfing muscles, I found that it was time to venture off to my first summer tournament, U.S. Women’s Open Qualifying at the Broadmoor. If I had known the course hung on the edge of the Rocky Mountains I may have thought about taking an oxygen tank for the 36 hole marathon. Instead I opted to take my friend Patrick as a caddie. The night before the tournament I met up with Denver University grads Katie Kempter and Dawn Shockley, and New Mexico senior-turned-pro Britney Choy for a cooking ‘sesh’ at their interestingly decorated host accommodation for the weekend. Katie had earlier described their house as castle-like, but it wasn’t until I stepped through the doors and was greeted by a giant clawing iron eagle sculpture that I realized the term ‘castle’ was used in reference to the amazing medieval décor. Knights in shining armor, swords, daggers, crested battle helmets and oversized ancient globes lined the blood red walls; the ceiling-high paintings (I’m convinced the eyes in the paintings followed those who stepped in front of it), mummy-themed movie theater and workout equipment in the bathroom officially made it the most unique house I’ve ever been to. After some of Katie’s delicious turkey burgers and Britney’s scratch-made salad dressing, Dawn and I decided to leave the house before nightfall when the monsters might just slip out of the dungeon.

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 next day of golf was long and I gave myself the best chance I could at being one of the three players that would earn a spot in the Open. After a good result in the morning round, my afternoon score unfortunately fell a few strokes short of what I needed and I headed home feeling a little stung.

Not to be deterred, a day and a half later I was teeing it up in the always-fun Colorado Open at Green Valley Ranch. I was lucky enough to be paired with Katie and her pro-am partner/course owner Pat Hamill. I don’t think there was another group out on course that was having as much fun as ours. I was delighted to find that Mr. Hamill and I shared similar passions for food, and he was generous enough to share with me not only some of his better jokes but also the names of his favorite restaurants (diners and dives as we liked to call them). The highlight of the tournament, however, came from the above-and-beyond effort made by our Denver volleyball and basketball grad friends when they raided my closet of all plaid-printed attire and hiked out to the sixth hole at GVR looking like extras from the move ‘Legend of Bagger Vance’. They sported knee high socks, knitted vests and grandpa hats in order to show their support. Their Mexican waves brought a smile to the faces of all competitors who were lucky enough to lay eyes on them.

Fifty-four holes passed with many birdies, a few bogeys and a bunch of laughs, and I found myself being awarded with the low amateur title and outright fourth place at the end of the week (behind two of the six or so LPGA players in the field). After presentations, some players and I decided to hit up some graduation parties and later head out to the city. The night included a Disney sing-a-long on the train, group dancing with a groom (two nights before his wedding) and listening to some of the best guitar riffs I have ever heard at the Celtic Tavern. It was the perfect way to cap of the week.

A shout-out this week goes to Matt from the Broadmoor for recommending Sushi Den, The Cherry Cricket and Steuben’s. I can’t wait to try them out upon my return!

Alison.

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