My teammates and I had a secret weapon while preparing for the Women's World Cup soccer tournament, which will end on Saturday with our championship match against China at the Rose Bowl. During the year we spent training in Orlando, we played golf three or four times a week after practice. Our regular group included Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Tisha Venturini and me, but eventually we recruited enough teammates to fill two more foursomes.
Mia was the only one in our group who had a real game. We're all extremely competitive, though, and our small-stakes matches (for a round of drinks or the dinner check) had a bit of everything. You could count on somebody blowing up once a round, so we would bring a video camera to get that on tape.
Hammer has the best swing. She's a 13 handicap and actually practices. She is also the only one of us who stays relatively calm on the course. Julie hits what we call the Foudy Fade, in which the ball makes a sharp right turn as soon as it leaves her club. We've become friends with Beth Daniel and Meg Mallon (both are huge soccer fans), and even they can't fix the Foudy Fade.
I shot my best nine-hole score, a 41, in May, and when we had a few days off in early June, before the Cup started, my husband, Jerry, and I celebrated our third anniversary with a trip to Pebble Beach to play Spyglass Hill and Spanish Bay. I called Julie on my cell phone as we played the 3rd hole at Spyglass. "You hear that?" I asked her. "That's the ocean, and the sound of my ball falling into the cup."
Soccer and golf are more alike than you would think. Every time you kick a soccer ball you're trying to put spin on it to make it curve left or right or to keep it low. If you play golf like Beth and Meg, you're doing the same thing. They hit it so long and straight, it's not even real golf. Real golf is hitting from behind trees or out of the bushes. Golf is so much harder than soccer.
Michael Jordan played 36 holes one day during the playoffs a few years ago. Our coach, Tony DiCicco, is a little less tolerant than Phil Jackson was, and the clubs have had to stay in storage for the last three weeks. But our regular group has a golf vacation planned after Saturday. We'll enjoy it a whole lot more if we tee it up as World Cup champs.