Berlitz couldn't handle a blitz like this. Let's Go never has.
Lonely Planet? Not if you hang out with the women of the LPGA
during the coolest road trip in golf, three weeks of blood,
sweat and beers marked by high drama on the course and low humor
off it. The party started on Feb. 13 at the Los Angeles Women's
Championship, moved on to Oahu for the Cup Noodles Hawaiian
Ladies Open and concluded Down Under at the Australian Ladies
Masters. Here, then, is the definitive travel guide.
For FedEx purposes, sweaty socks do not count as hazardous
Jan Stephenson, the Australian superstar emeritus who was one of
58 golfers to play in all three tournaments, has a simple game
plan for packing for long trips. "Wear your clothes until you're
tired of them, ship 'em home, then buy all new stuff," she says.
Stephenson doesn't mess around--she has personal accounts with
Federal Express and UPS. "Doing laundry is a dirty job," says
Girls just want to have fun, Part I.
Without a doubt the liveliest clique on the LPGA tour is the one
known as the Brits--a sprawling group that includes, but is not
limited to, Laura Davies, Helen Dobson, Lisa Hackney and Trish
Johnson of England, their Commonwealth comrades Mardi and Karen
Lunn, who hail from Australia, and the colorful caddies who
follow them around. They have practiced their merry brand of
debauchery all over the globe. At a tournament in Germany a few
years ago they had an epic ice-cream fight in Mardi Lunn's hotel
room. At the Italian Open they've been known to drag their
bedding onto the beach and sleep under the stars. In Australia
in '94 the Brits partied so hard that "we saw three sunrises in
a row," says Hackney, gloating. Fave pranks include stashing
bricks in each other's golf bags, stitching closed the legs of
each other's shorts and applying shoe polish to the nose
supports of sunglasses.
Away from the course the only time these players put down their
lager is to roll their own cigarettes and cigars, although they
do partake in all kinds of outdoor activities. In L.A. they were
limited to kicking a soccer ball around the hotel parking lot,
but, said Davies, "this isn't really our kind of place. Hawaii's
more to our liking."
In El Lay you are what you drive.
After nipping Hiromi Kobayashi with a 15-foot birdie putt on the
first playoff hole, Dale Eggeling credited her steely resolve to
a one-day course she had taken earlier in the week at Frank
Hawley's Drag Racing School, where she had made two runs behind
the wheel of a supercomp dragster. "After being that nervous
behind the wheel of a 725-horsepower car, that putt didn't seem
so bad," she said. Unfortunately, Eggeling was stuck with the
drabbest of rental cars in Hawaii, and after starting the final
round in third, she ran out of gas down the stretch and skidded
to a tie for 10th, five strokes behind winner Wendy Ward.
Getting high with Cockpit.
Many of Joan Pitcock's colleagues have taken to flip-flopping
the syllables in her last name, creating the perfect nickname.
Cockpit, an 11-year tour veteran from Fresno, is the latest pro
golfer to take a fancy to flying. She began working toward her
pilot's license last fall and figured Hawaii would be a suitably
exotic spot to log some flight hours. The day before the
tournament Pitcock was standing on the tarmac of Honolulu
International Airport examining a Cessna 172. "Is that oil?" she
asked, pointing to something gooey on the propellers.
"It is," said Pitcock's rent-an-instructor, "but don't worry,
it's like blood. It looks a lot worse than it is." The
instructor's sunglasses sat askew on her face, owing to the fact
that the left bow was missing. This did not inspire confidence.
With a smoothness that belied only 15 previous hours of flight
time, Pitcock pointed the four-seat Cessna down the runway and
sent it soaring toward the heavens. The 50-minute,
55-nautical-mile sightseeing journey around the island was
nothing if not eventful. Near Oahu's west coast there was a
strong wind coming off the steep oceanside mountains, which
bounced the Cessna around like a butterfly in a hurricane. There
was a problem with the headsets, which made intraplane
communication dicey, and midway through the flight two
passengers squashed in the back noticed that the gas gauge was
on empty. Pitcock derided them as "nervous Nellies," her
confidence intact because she had dipped her finger in the gas
tank, cartoon-style, before takeoff.
Having spent most of the flight at 2,500 feet, Pitcock asked for
and received clearance to drop to 1,000 and do a flyby of
Kapolei Golf Course, which was teeming with pretournament pro-am
participants. Standing on the range waiting for his boss to show
was Pitcock's caddie, Rick Kropf. "There goes Joan," he said,
which became a refrain that followed Pitcock the rest of the trip.
Girls just want to have fun, Part II.
Davies wasn't kidding. Two days before the tournament, she,
Hackney and Johnson found themselves scoffing burgers at a joint
called Kua Aina, the nexus for the North Shore surfing scene.
After lunch they gawked at the thunderous swells of the Pipeline
and then waded in the warm waters of Waimea Bay. It is
instructive to remember that this crowd craves action, not
atmosphere, and in short order they had crammed into Davies's
rented Mustang convertible and were speeding toward Waikiki in
search of Jet Skis. En route, Davies, who boasts of exceeding
180 mph on the German autobahn, was pulled over by one of Oahu's
finest, leading to this exchange: "Officer, back in England
we're allowed to drive 80 miles per hour."
"If you're from England, you ought to be able to read English,"
the cop said, motioning toward a nearby speed limit sign. Davies
got off with only a warning.
There were no Jet Skis to be found in Waikiki, so Davies had to
settle for a sea kayak, while Hackney and Johnson opted to
frolic atop an inflatable raft. Later they were all bellied up
to a beachside bar when a man who called himself Eddie Spaghetti
talked them into taking a sunset cruise on his outrigger. Out on
the water there was much moaning about how labor-intensive the
paddling was. Eddie suggested that the group sing a little ditty
to take their minds off the muscle cramps, and these displaced
Brits displayed a remarkable pop culture literacy by breaking
into the theme to Hawaii Five-O. Finally the payoff came when a
set of big waves poured in, sending the outrigger speeding
Kathryn, next time you might consider melatonin.
The 4,692-mile red-eye from Honolulu to Australia's Gold Coast,
in the state of Queensland, is the most dreaded part of the road
trip. Players resorted to any crutch to induce sleep, including
Winnie the Pooh pillows and portable CD players cranking New Age
music through industrial-sized earphones. However, Kathryn
Marshall, a six-year veteran from Edinburgh, had been
practically out before the flight even took off. Her secret?
"Lots of tequila," a glassy-eyed Marshall had said in the
Honolulu airport before takeoff. "Bad tequila." Later, while
waiting for her seat assignment, Marshall buried her head in her
hands when Jim Ritts, the LPGA commissioner, sidled up and asked
how she was feeling. Marshall looked like a schoolgirl who had
been busted for smoking in the bathroom.
"Must be that flu bug that's going around," Ritts said. Yeah,
the Scottish flu.
Apparently the Fuzzy Zoeller getup was unavailable.
In Australia, five days before the Masters, the Webb family
threw a costume party to celebrate the 21st birthday of middle
daughter Janelle in their hometown of Ayr, Queensland. Karrie
went as Tiger Woods, garishly swooshed and in black-face. "We'd
give you a picture, but we don't want Tiger to think we're
slagging on him," says Evelyn Webb, Karrie's mom.
When feeding the kangaroos, winter rules are in effect.
The day before the Masters, a flock of players visited the
Currumbin Sanctuary, a 67-acre zoo that features dingoes,
kangaroos, koalas, Tasmanian devils, wallabies, wombats and
other Australian exotica. Ordinarily, hand-feeding the 'roos
would have been the day's highlight, but a brazen Japanese
tourist stole the show. Sneaking up on a slumbering male, he
grabbed hold of the kangaroo's Spaldings and mugged for a
picture. "That's what I call lift, clean and place," said
Annette (Babe) DeLuca as her colleagues cracked up.
Pressing the flesh.
In Australia tabloid journalists are sometimes referred to as
"the gutter press." You should hear what their critics call
them. What follows is a recap of the major sports stories
splashed across the Australian papers throughout the tournament
Tuesday: Tournament officials defend the event's
dominatrix-themed advertising campaign that on radio feature the
come-on "Watch the women dominate." TV ads include a
driver-wielding babe in scandalously brief shorts standing over
a poor bloke holding a teed-up ball between his teeth.
Wednesday: Local girl Sarah O'Hare, the superdupermodel who has
become a national treasure thanks to her Wonderbra ads, is
paired with Webb in the pro-am. The detailed coverage of her
round includes the fact that she plays barefoot for part of the
time and displays, among other things, a Reggie-like propensity
for swinging and missing.
Thursday: Clearly dispirited by the absence of anything
salacious, the papers offer only blandly written tournament
Friday: In a first-person article in Golf Australia magazine,
local pro Nicole Lowien addresses the issue of lesbianism in
women's golf. She estimates that 50% of the players are gay.
"DYKES ON SPIKES" DON'T WORRY NICOLE, says a headline of the
Gold Coast Bulletin, cribbing one of Lowien's phrases.
"I must say, this has been a brilliant week," says Bernie
Pramberg, the golf writer for Brisbane's Courier-Mail. "Every
day around here has been like Oprah, or one of those other shows
you Americans are so fond of."
Girls just want to have fun, Part III.
Davies opened the Masters with a seven-bogey 79. Her desultory
score may have had something to do with her pretournament
practice routine. Davies claimed never to have glimpsed the
driving range at Royal Pines. "It's too far away, or so I'm
told," she said after the round. In fact, the range is only a
three-minute ride, and the tournament provides a fleet of carts
to shuttle players back and forth. In any case Davies decided to
mend her game on Thursday by boogie-boarding in the aptly named
town of Surfers Paradise and then gambling late into the night.
("Level at the casino, wiped out at the beach," she reports,
which surely beats the reverse.) The following day she tied the
course record with a seven-birdie 65 to make the cut with two
shots to spare. "I never expected to be in here," she said
afterward in the press room. "I figured by this time I'd be on
my fourth VB [Victoria Bitter] drowning my sorrows."
"They look kind of prehistoric," said Jody Anschutz.
"Like cockroaches," said Jeff Steffler, Rachel Hetherington's
"They could be something out of a science fiction movie," said
No, we're not talking about Michelle McGann's hats but rather
Moreton Bay bugs, the tastiest dish in all of Australia, a
crustacean described by one local chef as a cross between a
prawn and a lobster. Two rounds into the Masters a dozen players
and caddies, including the tournament leader, Cindy Schreyer,
worked up the courage to sample these bizarre delicacies. The
restaurant of choice, Medinas, was a self-serve joint--the bugs
came raw and had to be cooked by the players on a slab of
volcanic rock that had been heated to 400[degrees]. The bugs
were a monster hit, though one gastronomically-impaired
dissenter, who asked to remain nameless, voiced a preference for
the Aussie burgers served at Royal Pines' 19th hole, which came
with lettuce, tomato, bacon, a fried egg, cheese, beetroot and
Sticky wicket and all that.
One of the highlights of the three-week swing is the annual
cricket match that follows the third round of the Masters, when
Australian players and caddies take on the rest of the world
(which basically boils down to tour regulars from South Africa
and England). For the occasion the greenkeepers at Royal Pines
mow a pitch in a large grassy area in front of the clubhouse and
chalk off the playing field. About 500 fans turned out this year
to watch what was a well-played and intense match,
notwithstanding the scrums around the beer cart and such high
jinks as Mardi Lunn's dumping Webb's golf bag in a garbage can
in an attempt to rattle Webb's South African caddie, Evan
Minster, the captain of the World team. In a disputed and
thoroughly confusing finish, the Worlds secured a draw just as
darkness fell. This was a hefty upset and a personal disaster
for Australian captain Shani Waugh, who had been guaranteeing
victory all week. She promptly outlined her plans to get the
trophy back next year. ("Actually, we don't have a trophy," she
said. "We need one--maybe a burning bra or something.")
1) Drink less beer. "I think our team thought that was how we
were keeping score," said Waugh. "By the end we were having
trouble running in a straight line."
2) Better sledging. That's the Australian term for talking
smack. "They were a lot crueler than we were," insisted Waugh.
"One of the guys [caddie Shaun McBride] nearly drowned the other
day at the beach, and they made Baywatch jokes."
3) Get Dad to cheat. Shani's father, Robert, was the official
scorer. "He was much too honest," she said.
4) Make sure Sherri Steinhauer of the U.S. plays for the World
team. A few years ago she tried to hit the tennis ball (standard
equipment in this game) with the wrong side of the paddle.
"That's about as effective as holding the thick end of a
baseball bat," said Waugh with a giggle.
Girls just want to have fun, Part IV.
During the 13 1/2-hour flight from Sydney to L.A., the spent
players spent most of the time in a sweet reverie about their
own beds, coinless washing machines, Ben & Jerry's mint
chocolate and a hundred other highly anticipated comforts of
home. Then again, not everyone was so eager for the trip to end.
Certainly not Webb, who won the Masters. Predictably, the Brits
were on their way to the Great Barrier Reef for a week of
snorkeling, deep-sea fishing and other adventures.
Said Davies, "The fun is just beginning."
COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPHS BY ROBERT BECK GET OUR DRIFT? Always on the lookout for fun (from left): Davies, Johnson and Hackney floated some new ideas at Waikiki. [Laura Davies, Trish Johnson and Lisa Hackney in rubber raft]
THREE COLOR PHOTOS: PHOTOGRAPHS BY ROBERT BECK HAWAIIAN PUNCH No one was stuck for something to do between rounds of the Hawaiian Ladies Open at Kapolei (top). Davies (left, in vest) was the ringleader of a British expedition to surfers' paradise, the notorious Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu, while Pitcock, an aspiring pilot, got in an extra hour in the cockpit, during which she buzzed her pro-am partners. [Woman playing in golf tournament; Laura Davies with others on beach; Joan Pitcock in cockpit]
THREE COLOR PHOTOS: PHOTOGRAPHS BY ROBERT BECK SHIP SHAPES Working up a case of Islands fever in the days before the tournament in Hawaii, Hackney (right, foreground) urged her crew of fellow Brits to paddle up a storm in an outrigger, which prompted Davies (top photo) to cast about for new diversions, while Johnson found her comfort zone going on cruise control. [Lisa Hackney with others in canoe; Laura Davies fishing on boat; Trish Johnson sitting aboard boat]
THREE COLOR PHOTOS: GILBERT ROSSI (3) CREATURE COMFORTS The Yanks ran into all sorts of wonders Down Under. Melissa McNamara (left) will never 'roo the day she made some new friends at the Currumbin Sanctuary, while the threesome of (bottom, from left) Schreyer, Estill and Barb Whitehead came down with a bug. Webb, meanwhile, seemed right at home taking on the World in the annual players' cricket match at Royal Pines. [Melissa McNamara with kangaroos; Cindy Schreyer, Michelle Estill, man and Barb Whitehead in restaurant; Karrie Webb playing cricket]