A few years ago while competing in the men's Lincoln Highway golf tournament, I did something stupid I still think about to this day.
On the fifth hole at Oregon Country Club, about 100 yards from the green, I hit a shot that I thought was perfect. The ball landed on the front part of the green and was tracking toward the hole when it caromed off a ball that was already on the putting surface, stopping mine dead in its tracks.
I unleashed a full-voiced obscenity, causing a throng of people on the next tee box to turn their heads to see what some idiot had done. Yes, it was me.
Contrast that with what I saw on Friday and Saturday at the Women's Lincoln Highway, at Sunset Golf Course in Mount Morris. The closest thing to an outburst was from people laughing too hard. The sound of the golf ball clanking into the cup was often drowned out by the opening of cans of Summer Shandy or some other adult beverage.
It was a golf tournament, but it was also a party – and I liked it. (No, I didn't have any adult beverages, if you're wondering.)
"It's kind of like a college get-together," Sunset golfer Cheryl Satterfield said. "It's just really awesome."
On the 34th hole of the event, Sunset's Salley Wessels had a kick-in for par when the group on the adjacent ninth green was yukking it up after completing play. Eventual tourney medalist Ruth Heal then called over to the group, which included Rock River Golf and Pool team member Deena Gallentine, and said, "Hey Deena, can you keep it quiet over there? Salley's getting ready to putt over here."
Gallentine, a broad smile on her face, shot back, 'OK, maybe I'll whistle instead. Wait a second, I can't whistle."
Wessels, before draining the putt, said, "Deena, you go right ahead and whistle."
It was wonderful!
Heal, a 21-tme LHT champ who is quick to give out fist-bumps to playing partners who make nice putts or hit good shots, loves being light-hearted in this event.
"We do yak a bit, and that's the kind of atmosphere it's been," Heal said. "I don't think we've really had the tension there is in other tournaments."
Alina Llanas, playing in her first Lincoln Highway, soaked up the experience that is unlike other events she's been a part of.
"I'm used to college and high school, where it's so competitive," Llanas said, "and then I come here and everybody's just laughing. It's a really fun atmosphere to play in, and I enjoyed it. It was different, that's for sure.
"The girls I played with were so sweet, so positive. I heard 'nice shot' all the time. It was just such a fun experience."