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Wish You Were Here
Alan Shipnuck
March 16, 1998
The LPGA tour's recent 14,486-mile road trip proved once again that girls just want to nave fun
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March 16, 1998

Wish You Were Here

The LPGA tour's recent 14,486-mile road trip proved once again that girls just want to nave fun

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"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 toward shore.

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.

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