Monday, June 27, 2011
Out of Contention, Natalie Gulbis Goes Backwards
PITTSFORD, N.Y.—The thumping of basketballs pounded out a staccato rhythm in the steamy evening air of late June.
My brain had long since turned to jelly and my spine resembled a slanted question mark.
As I sipped on an Arnold Palmer, I thought back on the frustrating afternoon of Natalie Gulbis.
The Wegman’s LPGA Championship at Locust Hill Country Club in Pittsford, NY was the site of a disastrous day for Gulbis, who fired a 5-over 77 to close out the tournament tied for 68th.
This was our first sojourn to the Rochester tournament as adults—I went once during my childhood—and there were a number of differences from our days under the sun at the LPGA Corning Classic.
The patrons were a bizarre cross-section of society as one would expect at any public event of this magnitude.
Every manner of dress was on display from over the top frat boy preppiness representative of the wealthy suburb we were in, to tank top-clad rednecks toting garbage bags filled with free loot from the courtesy tent.
The course itself appeared far more challenging than Corning Country Club with significant elevation changes and devilish greens that confused nearly all competitors not named Yani Tseng, who finished with a ten shot victory in the LPGA's second major tournament of the year.
There was a group of about ten people following Natalie’s group decked out in official Gulbis gear. Everyone had all black outfits, which made it impossible not to pay attention to them.
The group seemed comprised of Natalie’s host families from Rochester and elsewhere, but one individual stood out.
There was a twiggy young man, likely in his late teens or early twenties wearing his hat crooked complete with a popped collar, “diamond” ear rings and buzz cut that made him look like a cast-off from some thankfully lost episode of Jersey Shore.
That would have been enough to annoy me for a few minutes, but the reason I bring it up is to mention the tattoo he proudly displayed by rolling up his short sleeves.
In prominent view was a sizable likeness of Natalie’s official logo, minus her name as seen here.
The only reasonable explanation for such a life choice is that he’s related to Ms. Gulbis. That’s the only way to explain to a woman later in life why he got a tattoo for a professional golfer.
The aforementioned group started not one, but three slow claps while also sporting rally caps at one point. Acceptable for baseball games, but at the very least mildly insulting to a golfer not playing well.
Despite the odd makeup of the gallery and the travails of Ms. Gulbis, Mr. Sienkiewicz and I pressed on and attempted a rally of our own.
By the time Natalie finished out on the 18th hole however, our backs were in shambles and we were overtaken by pangs of hunger that could only be silenced by Chinese Buffet—Jones knows the place.
All in all, it was a good day wandering the grounds that were haphazardly laid out by Scottish golf course architect Seymour Dunn in 1928. I just wish Natalie could putt.