Here's what we're going to do. We're going to follow Amy Alcott from the ground floor to the roof of her house in Santa Monica Canyon, near Los Angeles, and we're going to do it without ever bringing up the word thirty.
This will be difficult because if you tell Amy you're thirsty, she sighs and says that she no longer gives the LPGA Hall of Fame a thought. Look at your fingernails and say they're dirty, and Amy replies that 29 tour wins, including five major championships, should get you into anybody's Hall of Fame. Murmur that the orange sun dropping over that ridge sure looks pretty, and Amy insists that she's not concerned that four years and seven months have gone by since she has won. The number 30 flutters around Alcott like bluebirds around Snow White.
Sad, that. To view Amy Alcott as a 39-year-old golfer chasing a missing integer is to blind oneself to her other gifts. She lives, bless her, not in a fairway condo but in a tall, white stucco house halfway up a ridge of crowded cliff houses and small gardens. "Living my whole life in California, I'm convinced it is the land of fruits and nuts," she says. Perfect, in other words, for Amy Alcott. Sun spills across the threshold of her open front door as one of her two Scottish terriers snuffles contentedly around the legs of a visitor. The living room is sparsely decorated—white walls and hardwood floors with techno furniture and a few pieces of contemporary art. But the conversation starts outside, by a long, narrow swimming pool that gets even narrower at its shaded end, finishing at a modern sculpture called Vertebrae Man, which moves in the wind.
"I have two different sides," Alcott says, growing relaxed in her pool chair. "One is the Pisces, this fish who likes the cool water, the peace, the freedom. The fish becomes immersed in things and doesn't like loud noises and overly boisterous people. That's the side that has made me the great concentrator, the course manager—the side that can focus on one thing and focus on it really well."
Alcott clings to memories of a childhood spent as "a loner and an outcast." Teased by other children for her tomboy tendencies, she spent countless hours in private communion with her golf clubs. Since then, she has spent as many hours educating herself. It is this self-sufficient Alcott who, when she's on the road, often enjoys going solo in search of an out-of-the-way diner.
"Then there's the other side," she says, "the gregarious show person." This Alcott is the extrovert who dived into a pond to celebrate two of her three Nabisco Dinah Shore victories; the flaky celebrity who used to spend her off days baking and selling pastries to customers at Santa Monica's Butterfly Bakery. She's the mischievous golfer who, when asked what she would do with her winnings from a tour event sponsored by the Archdiocese of Trenton, N.J., joked that she would give the money to the United Jewish Appeal.
"That side has come out more as I've grown successful as a golfer," Alcott says. "My mother instilled it in me. She'd say, 'Just go out this week and let the world enjoy you.' "
Linda Giaciolli, Alcott's agent of 15 years, deals mostly with the gregarious show person. "Amy doesn't actually come to my office," says Giaciolli. "She honks her horn in the street, four floors down. Like a hillbilly." Susan Hunt, who next spring will cohost with Alcott a television show about women's golf, describes her partner as "a pretty eclectic personality." Eclectic, as in willing to try almost anything. A friend told Hunt, "The two of you will be like Lucy and Ethel."
But here's Alcott by the pool, her head buried in the newspaper, and you know you've caught the fish again. Her eyes roam the business pages. "I don't own a lot of stocks, but sometimes something will jump out at me. One night I had a dream about being in line at a Sizzler steakhouse." She looks up. "I can be really crazy. I had this dream and I bought some Sizzler, and it went down five points. So I don't necessarily pick winners. I do it strictly for fun."
A quick tour of the ground floor reveals Alcott's other enthusiasms. In her kitchen, ensconced like a shrine, is a gleaming, six-burner Garland professional range with broiler and griddle—the sort of unit upon which a restaurant chef can prepare 10, 20, maybe 29 omelets at a time. "The cooking I do when I'm calm," Alcott says, proudly running her hand over the chrome molding. "I love preparation the most because it gets your mind off everything. And I love the presentation. I look at myself more as an artist than as a golfer."