The name of this column couldn't be more appropriate, because after 12 long years of trying to get onto the LPGA tour, I'm finally getting my shot this season. When I tee it up for the first time in 2000 at this week's Cup Noodles Hawaiian Ladies Open, I'll be one of the oldest rookies on the tour. I began my quest back in 1987, when I first entered Q school as a 21-year-old fresh out of the University of Texas. Now I'm 34 and a veteran of the Asian tour, the Futures tour and other minitours too numerous to mention. I've won seven times, but my average annual income over the last years has been less than $20,000.
I might have earned my card a decade ago except for a mental fumble that bothers me to this day. In 1989 I went to the final stage of Q school with my confidence at an alltime high. I had won a Futures event the week before and was totally focused on getting my card. Too focused, as it turned out. I forgot to register for the event.
The tournament was at Sweetwater Country Club in Houston, where I had played many times in college. Because I knew my way around, I went in the pro shop entrance without checking in at the registration desk in the clubhouse. I was practicing on the range when fellow golfer Michele Redman asked me if I had registered. "Please say yes," she said. I was scared to death so I ran to the tournament office and tried begging and pleading to no avail. I was disqualified from the event before play began and beat myself up about it for years.
I had to let go of my dream to finally break through. I took a job as a rep for a golf-luggage company last year, caddied for Rocky Thompson and Jim Ferree on the Senior tour, and got in shape. With lower expectations, I got out of my own way long enough at Q school to earn my conditional card by four strokes.
As Blanche Dubois said in A Streetcar Named Desire, I've always depended on the kindness of strangers. I'm indebted to many people for their support and sponsorship. Now it's time I pay them back.