My brother said there would be jobs open in Northwest Arkansas so I headed that way early Labor Day morning. Motels and restaurants are getting old this time of year and it looked like there was quite a bit of wild country around Rogers, AK so I called Dad and had him meet me in Lincoln, IL with my tent and sleeping bags. This time of year felt like a great time for some camping and Roaring Rivers Park was my destination for the week. I could do without ESPN as long as the weather held out.

My phone started ringing just after meeting Dad at noon and I had a couple of offers on the table by 2 o’clock, but I couldn’t understand them enough to discern their names, and they weren’t meeting my salary requirements either. While I was still negotiating via text with one of the Asian players, Kris Tamulis called and wanted to know if I was still available. My brother said she might call, I told her I was still a free agent, and I’d be happy to work for her. We planned to meet the next morning and I headed for the campground.

I don’t mind roughing it, but these days I need a secluded camp site, phone service, and a wireless internet connection. Roaring Rivers was situated at the confluence of three rivers in a deep gorge; it was beautiful but provided none of my required amenities. I hustled to Rogers before dark and luckily found a clean Mom and Pop, $170 for the week, but situated in a dry county. I survived.

This is the third year for the P & G Beauty LPGA event in Rogers and it has been hounded by rain, this year was no exception, I’m sure glad I wasn’t in that tent. It started raining Tuesday night, finally quit on Friday but we had to play lift, clean, and cheat even though the course had undergone a six million dollar (donated by one of the members) renovation. The fairways were still sloppy but the greens were some of the best I’ve seen.

The conversation during LPGA practice rounds varies a bit from the guy’s tours. I spent a few holes listening to three gals dissect their roommate’s sleep attire, bathroom etiquette, and the improprieties one takes when disrobing in the room. I kept my mouth shut and studied my yardage book, I knew none of these girls well enough to make any sort of comment. They all accused me of being embarrassed, I thought it was quite amusing, but I’d rather talk sports, hunting, or fishing.

This was a three day tournament so we played in the pro-am late Thursday afternoon and actually finished in the dark. The extra day gave us some time to get to know each other, and during the pro-am I found out she could cuss a bit, nice to have a player with a little spunk and feistiness. We needed it during the first round Friday after we got off to a bad start. We were two over through four holes and kept lipping out our short putts, she was getting very frustrated but I provided some subtle motivation, jokes, and stories while she battle through the tough stretch.

On the front nine, our back, she reeled off five birdies in six holes and we were three under with two holes to play, tied for sixth. A couple of bad drives cost us. A large tree blocked our approach from the fairway on eight and a horrendous lie in the rough was almost unplayable on nine. She lipped out both par putts and we headed for the range just before dark to work off some frustration. She’s a battler but may get down on herself a bit too much.

With the three day tournament we were repaired on Saturday and teed off very early. The putts were still rolling over the edges, her frustration mounted, and enticing her with Margaritas for birdies didn’t even work. The four putt on seventeen was a fitting end and we limped down eighteen missing the cut by a bunch. After a quick lunch we packed up and had a long conversation in the parking lot. I’m not used to players shedding tears, and wasn’t quite sure what to do, so a quick hug and a lot of encouraging words seemed like they helped a bit.

She told me I did a great job and thought she might need a caddy in California. We didn’t make any definite plans but would keep in touch. I roamed around lost for a couple of hours, talked briefly with M.J. Hur and congratulated her, looked for some possible jobs and then headed for the room. I didn’t want to stick around Rogers so I packed quickly and headed for Havana.

My thirty-five year class reunion was going on and I got there just in time to see some old friends, close down the bar, and surprise my parents the next morning. Missing a cut does have a few benefits.

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