Wide U.S. Open!

This past Saturday my friends Fran, Debi and I went to the US Open in Pinehurst for the day. I’m no expert on golf. I leave that to my husband, Lee, who has been down there all week covering the event. But when it comes to getting in trouble, the three of us gals can tee off with the best of them.

Actually Fran, Debi and I could have cared less about the golf. We just wanted to say we saw some famous players so we spent all of fifteen minutes searching for Phil Mickelson because everyone likes Phil. He’s the anti-Tiger and people who don’t get golf don’t like Tiger.

Phil also has arthritis and he takes the same medicine as Debi because she’s seen him on those television commercials. We knew we couldn’t go home until we found this man.

He was paired with Webb Simpson. Webb is from Raleigh. So we felt we could call it quits on watching golf when we saw the nice guy with arthritis and the home boy tee off on the 12th hole.

But when in Pinehurst during the US Open, one must keep focused. So we found Sergio Garcia because he’s a Spaniard and Fran spent her senior year of college in Spain back in 1986.

Lee told us about Rickie Fowler who is the guy who wears orange as a nod to his alma mater, Oklahoma State. Fran saw a guy in an orange shirt and so we figured we saw Rickie Fowler. We included his name as one of the golfers we gawked in a post on Facebook to make sure our friends knew we had been down in Pinehurst “watching” the US Open.

The next day I caught a little of the tournament on TV when I was back in Chapel Hill. The announcer mentioned Rickie as they showed some young kid dressed head-to-toe in orange. The guy we saw the day before had to be fifty, so we need to make a correction on Facebook. We didn’t see Rickie Fowler. We saw some other guy who dared to wear orange obviously trying to pass for Rickie Fowler.

We had no idea what a birdie was or a shank or the difference between a wedge and a nine iron. And out of 55,000 people there on Saturday, three of us wore sandals. Since we were in the Sandhills our feet, ankles and about half way up the backs of our legs were covered in a dark dust.

But we bonded, at arm’s length, with the nice guy on Enbrel, the home boy, the Spaniard and a guy wearing an orange shirt.

We had our $8 beers. We ate our $6 grilled pimento cheese sandwiches that Fran said we had to try because she saw it on the news the day before. It was fine. But Texas toast makes anything delicious.

We weren’t allowed to take our cell phones in which we felt should’ve been considered a human rights violation because really it’s all about capturing the moment and instantly putting it on Facebook to show the world just how cool we could be, dressed in our straw hats, white shorts – and sandals.

The USGA had set up a place to get your photo taken in front of Pinehurst’s revered Putter Boy statue. We pondered a little too long about whether we should strike model poses or just be ourselves. The USGA guy with sweat dripping down his neck gently nudged us along stating in a monotone voice that we’d look fine either way.

3972796_1399False_False_1-00_1-00_0_ROTATE_NONE_No doubt these guys were coached to be endlessly polite, no matter the heat index or the old gals clearly there for any reason but golf.

After our photo was taken, like kids on a field trip who were done viewing the museums, we just wanted to go to the gift shop and buy overpriced shirts for those poor male family members who were sitting at home watching Phil, Sergio, Webb and some guy dressed in orange.

That’s when the fun started. Imagine out of 55,000 people, about 54,526 were crammed into the merchandise pavilion grabbing everything from Polo shirts to plastic tumblers. The blast of air conditioning proved a nice distraction from the sticker shock at the cash register.

I got separated from Debi and Fran as I was herded through roped off lines, winding my way towards the sixty cashiers who must have been given a mass dose of Zanax at the start of the day because they, too, were oddly calm.

I waited outside for my girls who strolled out 45 minutes later. With two big bags in hand, Fran said she about got removed from the merchandise pavilion by an overzealous volunteer and a security officer when she poked her head out the back exit to look for me while Debi stood in line with her merchandise.

Apparently Fran didn’t get the memo that once you stick any body part out that door, you can’t jump back in.

The USGA volunteer who must have passed on his meds that morning tersely told her she couldn’t come back in. Fran was not complying.

“Is everything alright here?” asked a security guard who had wandered over to assess the situation.

“No,” the man declared.

Fran, an attorney by trade, tore into her defense.

“Excuse me, but I didn’t exit the building officer. I poked my head out to look for my friend. 90% of my body remained inside, proving I am still on the premises,” she began, “and I just spent 15 minutes pleading with a kid to hand over the Carolina blue polo shirt he was holding as there isn’t a size large left in this whole damn place. So I’m not leaving until I buy this stuff. ”

And with that she said she turned around and headed back in.

She thinks it was her attorney skills that prevailed. I think they took one look at her sooty feet and didn’t want to attract any more attention to the situation than necessary.

It kept going south from there. We each got another beer, ran to the 18th hole in time to see Phil and Webb again. Fran and I stood in the shrubs by the clubhouse. A young highway patrolman who obviously had nothing better to do than to put a couple of menopausal women in their places demanded that we move off the already beaten down boxwoods. We inched over onto the grass, but apparently that wasn’t good enough. That’s when he handcuffed us and threw us on the ground.

Okay so he didn’t actually do that. But we know he wanted to. He just yelled at us to GET! OFF! THE! GRASS! NOW!

I’m all for crowd control but this wasn’t a Metallica concert. We weren’t preparing to body surf our way over to get Phil’s autograph. But after standing there for fours days in that heat I think this guy just needed an ego boost so he harassed two women, over fifty, wearing sandals at a golf tournament.

Debi, preferring to stand out of the fray, later said we also pissed off a lady behind us who was complaining to her husband that we had broken in line.

Okay so maybe we had broken in line.

Obviously no one seemed amused by this except us.

That is until we decided it was time to leave after a day filled with great adventure. We had checked our bags of merchandise and while we were standing in line to retrieve them Debi leaned on the fence. She felt a little nudge and realized her arm was resting on top of some old guy’s hand who obviously had found that particular spot first. She apologized but it was clear the old guy took this as a cue to strike up a conversation and attempted, unsuccessfully, to get her phone number.

As we left the stately No. 2 another man well past retirement age stood at the exit gate handing out brochures. Our feet were covered in grime. Our faces were splotched from the scorching sun (yes we forgot sunscreen and had to borrow some from the couple who parked next to us). Our arms were loaded down with overpriced merchandise. And we were laughing hysterically at the day’s misadventures.

“You ladies look like trouble,” he said with a big smile.

“You have no idea,” we replied.

“I’d sure like to join you,” he kept on.

Sorry, mister, we only hang with the real players in this town.

Photo: (L-R) Fran Muse, Me and Debi Cheek putting our game faces on in front of Pinehurst’s famous Putter Boy at the US Open.