June 2016 Newsletter

Let's Go Golf!


Jennifer Shoemaker is an EWGA poster child this month--she's pictured on the left end of the happy quartet being used nationwide using to promote the organization's June theme, "Let's Go Golf." Jen won free attendance to the national EWGA conference in April, and she tells all about it below. 

Our chapter is also in the EWGA spotlight because we're hosting the Northeast Semi-Final of the EWGA Championship Series in August. So we want to field a full slate of competitors for gross and net stroke play and scramble team. You gotta represent! That's one of ten reasons you should play in the Chapter Championship on July 16--more below.

Ten Reasons You Should Play in the Chapter Championship

By Stephanie Mumford Brown

Our most challenging and gratifying golf event takes place on July 16: the Albany/Capital Region NY Chapter Championship. It’s the one event we must put on to qualify as an EWGA entity.

Challenging, sure. But gratifying? And even fun? You bet—here are 10 reasons you should sign up. Those of us who have played in it could probably come up with 20 more! (Be sure to register by the June 29 deadline, following the instructions on the championship page of our chapter web site.)

1. Play the Woman Card. The Chapter Championship is the first stage in the EWGA Championship Series, the largest women’s amateur golf competition in the world. Provide your participation and support. Vote for women’s golf!

2. Take Flight. You don’t need a 5 handicap to win. This competition has five flights, so you’re playing with golfers at your level. Just got a handicap this year? There’s a Fourth Flight for you, for players with a handicap index of 40.4 to 32.1. Moreover, there are two ways to win: Each stroke-play flight has awards for gross AND net scores. You get strokes off your score according to your course handicap, which could make your net score lower than those posted by the “better” players within your flight.

3. Team Play. Would you rather have teammates? Form a scramble team. You can do it just for fun, or you can do it to win—hey, winning is fun. There’s an art and science to scramble competition, explained in my 3-part series of Times Union golf blog posts covering recruiting team members, tactics on the course, and scramble “culture.”

4. They Won’t Bite. Golf rules, that is. Some of us hesitate to play in an event that requires strictly following the rules. Don’t be scared: Most golf rules are logical and can even be your friends, not old meanies. Plus officials will be available to help you with rulings at the championship. See “Dropping for Dummies,” below, for the basics about one of golf’s most common procedures. Brush up on other rules basics, as well as competition advice, at Prep2Play on the EWGA Championship web site.

5. Penny Pinching. The 2016 tournament fee is the lowest in years, thanks to sponsorships, subsidies, and smart negotiating. Plus your entry fee gets you $10 in “Championship Bucks” to redeem for logo-ware at www.shopEWGA.com. If you move ahead to the Northeastern Semi-Final on August 13, you won’t need to pay for a hotel room: It’s at Orchard Creek Golf Course in Altamont. And if you move up from there, the national event October 14-15 is in northern Virginia—no airfare required.

Happy Winners6. Victory Is Within Reach. Our chapter has a history of success at regional and national competition. Recent Northeastern Semi-Final winners include Catherine Becker, Michele Denny, Robin Raco, Jennifer Shoemaker, Paula Trexler, Michele Walls, and the scramble team of Jana Behe (Event Captain for this year’s Championship), Colleen Brady, Stephanie Brown, and Gina Giacomini. At the national EWGA Championship Finals in 2014, Jen Shoemaker won Third Flight Low Gross. This event isn’t wired just for year-round Sunbelt players; we can do it!

7. You Can’t Win If You Don’t Play…to state the obvious. And even if you don’t think you’re playing especially well—that month, that week, that day—you may still be playing better than the rest of your flight. Golf is like that.

Happy Semi-Final Winners (left): A portion of the chapter's 2014 delegation to national EWGA Championship competition.

8. Personal Best. You might actually turn out to be one of those people who play better in competition. You set realistic goals, focus on each shot, make good decisions, and keep your head in the game. Hey, d’ya think that might apply to the rest of life, too? Give it a try.

9. Represent! Help your chapter field a full complement of players at the Semi-Final in our own back yard. That’s 14 chapter members: gross and net winners for five flights and a four-person scramble team. We need women whose handicaps range from single-digit to 40-plus—there’s a place for everyone. Let’s hear it for Chapter Pride!

10. Volunteer! Still not ready to play? Then help put on the Chapter Championship and the Northeastern Semi-Final. We need volunteers for duties ranging from registration to photography. You’ll get a front row seat on competition that will help you feel more comfortable playing the next time around. Contact Chapter Member Services Director Tara Curley to match your skills with event needs.

NYSTEC Sponsors Championship

"We are excited to announce our first Chapter Championship sponsor, NYSTEC, which is supporting the 2016 event as a Gold Sponsor," says Chapter Marketing Director Emily Ekland. 

Founded in 1995 as the New York State Technology Enterprise Corporation, NYSTEC provides technology consulting services for New York organizations, agencies and institutions.  NYSTEC's not-for-profit status distinguishes it from other IT consulting firms, and allows provision of unbiased, vendor-neutral assessments, according to the company web site.

Dropping for Dummies: How, when and where to use golf's favorite fix

By Stephanie Mumford Brown

Explanation of golf rules usually starts with a problem and applies a solution, or two, or ten—it can make your head spin. So let’s turn that around.

When you find yourself in a bad situation on a golf hole, often you can fix it by taking a drop. Which is to say, you move your ball to a better position, using a unique technique.

Simple as it seems, however, many players do it incorrectly. They drop in the wrong way or the wrong place, at the wrong time.

You’ll gain much more comfort with competition, and the golf rules that apply to it, just by learning how to take a drop properly. So here’s a summary of how to use golf’s not-quite-universal solution—with this disclaimer: An article this brief and painless is, of course, not definitive. At the end, you’ll find links to more authoritative sources.

How to Drop

After marking your ball position and figuring out your relief zone (more on that to come), you 1) stand up, 2) hold your ball at arm’s length at shoulder height over your relief zone, and 3) let it go. Many golfers get No. 2 wrong—they casually drop from somewhere between hips and chest.

What if the ball rolls to the wrong place—more than two club lengths from where it landed, back into the situation you’re trying to get out of, or that big taboo, closer to the hole? You drop it again.

What if, on your second try, the ball still rolls away? You lean over and place the ball on the ground where it first landed from your drop. Three strikes and you’re in, in golf.

What if you don’t like the lie where your ball landed? Too bad; you have to play it. Some golfers think that the price of a penalty stroke at least lets them shop for a decent lie. Nope, there are no bargains here.

When to Drop

You may take a drop in many, but not all, lousy situations. Let’s categorize them by cause.

Not your fault. When your balls lands on a spot that’s bad because some other human made it that way, you may take a drop. These “immovable obstructions” include things like cart paths, sprinkler heads, distance markers, ground under repair, French drains (a fancy term for rocks in a ditch), and if you happen to be playing in a major tournament, corporate hospitality tents. The same applies for “casual water” (a rules term for post-downpour ponding, nothing “casual” about it in my opinion). Price: free.

You also may extract your "imbedded" ball that's stuck in the spongy fairway and drop it. Nasty divots caused by other humans, however, are your tough luck.

Some bad spots are caused by animals. Golf rules are kindly about woodchuck holes (“burrowing animals”) but have no mercy for goose poop. Deadly stuff like alligators and wasps may be covered by a course’s local rules.

Your bad. Your hit your ball into a water hazard or an unplayable situation. The only good news here is, you get to decide whether a ball is unplayable, as long as you’re willing to pay for it. Price: one stroke.

Too bad for you. If your ball gets lost or goes out of bounds, no drop for you. You must go back and do over the shot (only better). Price: Harsh; one stroke plus distance.

Where to Drop

The fundamentals are:

  • No closer to the hole. Period.
  • Within your relief zone. The rules are kind: Relief applies both to your ball and to your stance. The rules are also tough: You must take full relief—you can’t move your ball off the cart path or out of the hazard, then stand on the path or in the hazard to hit it. It’s all or nothing.

Where’s your relief zone? This gets way more technical, and in some cases requires defining nearest point of relief. So let’s talk in terms of how you frame the area.

Golf club length. For “not your fault” situations, you first figure out your nearest point of relief—that’s the place where you can stand and swing and not be affected by the crap you want to avoid. Stick a tee at the bottom of your tryout swing, then measure one club length from that spot (use your driver!) and stick in another tee. That line is the radius of an imaginary half-circle zone that’s no closer to the hole. Hold your ball above it and let ‘er drop.

For certain your-fault problems—unplayable lies and lateral water hazards—you may use the same procedure. The one-stroke price you pay for your mistake buys you two club lengths to establish your relief zone. Lucky you.

Imaginary sort-of-infinite line. Now we get positively visionary. This kind of relief zone applies to all water hazards and is an alternative for unplayable balls.

Picture a line running from the hole to your ball (or the place your ball entered the swamp, R.I.P.). Extend that imaginary line backward away from the hole. You may drop your ball anywhere along it: one yard outside the hazard line, 25 yards to a level lie in the fairway, even 150 yards to the fairway one hole over to get back beyond a patch of woods.

This is the stuff of pro-on-TV thrills. It also can eat up a lot of time, so please don’t go nuts here. Remember, you can always go back and replay the shot—sometimes stroke-and-distance is the smarter price. Smartest of all may be to play a provisional ball if there’s any chance your shot is in peril or lost. (Here’s a link to my painless guide to provisionals.) 

This is just a Cliff’s Notes summary of drop relief. For the Classics Illustrated version, consider investing a few bucks in the USGA’s Golf Rules Illustrated. For the definitive rules, visit the USGA web site, which offers a searchable database of not only the 204 pages of Rules of Golf but also the 581 pages of Decisions on the Rules of Golf. I keep a copy at bedside in case of insomnia.

Shopping for Smarties: VIM Sale Runs June 13-17

Back and bigger and better than ever, the EWGA VIM (Very Important- Member) Sales Extravaganza runs five days only, June 13 to 17. Albany/Capital Region Chapter members can go online to purchase golf products and apparel at a deep discount.

This pop-up sale offers 25%-65% off brands like Cutter & Buck, Bionic Gloves, Smile Drinkware, Golf Buddy, TLink, VK Sport, and Antigua. Only current EWGA members have access to the sale.

To take advantage of this five-day opportunity, go to: www.myewga.com/vim starting Monday,  June 13, and use your regular EWGA login info. If this is your first time at the EWGA Clubhouse, sign in with the email address you have on file with EWGA. Enter the default password: Password1 (case sensitive). You then can set up your own password and access the VIM site. 

Local Members Go National

Three Chapter Members Attend EWGA’s 25th Anniversary Event

By Jennifer Shoemaker

Mary Ann Keeler, Robin Raco and I attended EWGA’s 25th Anniversary Celebration in Colonial Williamsburg, VA, April 20 through 24. It was very fun and informational, with plenty of chances to get in some golf.

We played at the Golden Horseshoe (which has multiple courses) and at Ford’s Colony (which was not part of the conference hotel). All of the courses were very nice and challenging. It was a perfect way to kick off the 2016 golf season!

By the end of the event, our Albany/Capital Region NY Chapter racked up several awards:

  • 1st Place, Par 3 Challenge Best Ball Partners—Mary Ann Keeler and Robin Raco.
  • 1st Place Low Net, Individual Play—Robin Raco.
  • 3rd Place Low Net, Individual Play—Jennifer Shoemaker.
  • Longest Putt—Robin Raco.
  • 1st Place Low Net, Partners—Jennifer Shoemaker and Diana Meadows, a member from the Washington DC Area (6-hole scramble/6-hole best ball/6-hole alternate shot format).

Good Company (from left): Robin Raco, LPGA great Nancy Lopez, Jen Shoemaker and Mary Ann Keeler.

There were many opportunities to get to know other EWGA members from all over the country. Unlike the National Championships that I have participated in the past, this event was much more relaxed. It was nice to see many familiar faces from Nationals, though, and catch up with them.

Before the conference, you were able to sign up for various “tracks” for golf play based on experience and preference (i.e. beginner, intermediate, advanced, & team play). If you didn’t have a partner that came with you (like me), you were assigned someone close to your handicap for the partner and team events. You were also paired up with a different group for each day’s golf event.

There also was time to explore Colonial Williamsburg, which was bursting with amazing experiences. The Revolutionary City is 300 acres, containing more than 500 buildings and 35 exhibition buildings. The city comes alive depicting the days, months and years leading up to and during the Revolutionary War.

We encountered historic characters from this period and met the “locals” (townspeople, tradespeople, shopkeepers, political figures) and learned of their hopes, struggles and fears during this time. We also took a ghost walk tour, where we learned about the ghosts that still haunt the taverns and historic buildings of the Revolutionary City.

There was a chance of rain for a few days, but we were able to get in our pre-conference rounds of golf without getting too wet. However, heavy rain on Friday meant the opening ceremony needed to be brought indoors to the conference center, so we didn’t get the cannon-launch kickoff. It worked out just fine though. There were several different sessions to attend (you rotated to each) to “Fuel Your Game.”  One of the highlights on this day was a session with Shawn Humphries, a GOLF Magazine Top 100 Teacher. He talked us through how to make an immediate difference in our game by learning how to think, train and perform like an Olympian athlete (and who doesn’t want to be winning the gold)! I’m looking forward to trying out what I learned.

Saturday night was the big gala and there was so much to hear. In addition to having several vendors for shopping (and freebies!), there were amazing guest speakers: Nancy Lopez (LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famer); Bailey Mosier, the “Morning Drive” co-host on the Golf Channel; Nancy Oliver (EWGA Founder); Suzy Whaley, first female officer of the PGA; and Dawn Hudson, the Chief Marketing Officer of the NFL. We heard how these women rose to their challenges and about their experiences along the way. Also, there were awards given out such as the Nancy Oliver Founder’s Award and the EWGA Leadership Award (which Nancy Lopez received).

On Sunday morning we had “It’s All About the Takeaway” Speed Learning Golf Sessions, which were very helpful. Some of the areas for review were: Destination Peak Performance; Mind Matters—Change Your Brain, Change Your Game; Architectural Freedom—Liberate Your Game; SNAG Some Short Game Success, and Influencing Bad Ball Behaviors—Create Your Vision. Again, I’ll be using some of the things I learned and hopefully will see some positive results.

Attending my first EWGA national conference well exceeded all my expectations. There were amazing golf courses to play at, fun activities around the clock, delicious food to enjoy (I still cannot forget those raspberry mousse chocolate cups we had for dessert one day ….), and interactive workshops to not only help improve our golf game, but to also help in our professional development.

The stories of powerful women were inspiring. But I have to say, what I gained from the most are the new friendships with women from across the country that I was able to form. This conference emphasized what our organization is truly about—meeting other women who love the game of golf while having fun!

Chapter Board Report

With the golf season in full swing, your board has filled in a summer-long slate of chapter activities with the help of volunteer event captains. Attention now is turning to succession planning, to ensure we can maintain this ambitious pace. 

League and Clinic Update. Wiping sweat off her brow, Golf Programs Director Liz Gaudet reported at the May board meeting the statistics for a bigger-than-ever league registration season. More than 95% of the 200 available slots in 15 leagues were filled, with nearly 80 members signing up to sub. Ongoing activity is tended by 25 volunteers who have signed up to captain or co-captain their leagues. On the education side, most of the first "six-pack" of golf clinics sold out, so organizer Mary Corrigan assembled another set for June featuring four teachers covering short game, power and fundamentals. 

Links to information and registration for current clinics and events appear on our web site home page. For the chapter calendar, click hereTo obtain minutes of board meetings, click here

Suggestions, Please 
Do you have an idea, a critique, a recommendation--perhaps even a compliment--you'd like to share with chapter management? Click here to send an email.