It’s as easy as checking a box.

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Editor’s Note: The Rafu will be following Chelsea Curtis, a first-year player on the Duramed Futures Tour, through her blog. The Duramed Futures Tour is the LPGA developmental tour, now in its 30th year. Nearly 300 alumnae are current LPGA members and more than 500 advanced from the Futures Tour to the LPGA. Some of the top alumnae are Lorena Ochoa, Cristie Kerr, Karrie Webb and Mina Harigae. For more information on Chelsea, go to www.chelseagolf.com

You know it’s fall when the green foliage is spattered with red, orange, and yellow, the air is cool and crisp, and you can’t feel your hands when warming up for an early morning tee time. This was the case for my professional debut. The New England Open will hold a special place in my memory as my first professional event in the scenic, quiet district of Weekapaug, part of Westerly, Rhode Island.
It was as easy as checking a box labeled “Pro” on the entry form and my 15 years of amateur golf had come to an end. It was so anticlimactic, that all the deliberation and preparation to pursue a career as a professional golfer was as easy as flipping a switch.
The tournament came around a little too quickly and Sunday afternoon I was on the road heading to my practice round. I played my practice round by myself at Weekapaug Golf Course, a fairly short, 9 hole track. It was in beautiful condition, the greens were rolling nicely, and it was right on the water. After my practice round and a few putting drills, I headed over to a small hotel a mile down the road. I was all by my lonesome for this tournament and I preoccupied my time with some reading (The Broker, John Grisham), some Internet TV (Hulu.com), and some stretching. Needless to say, my night was high up on the “Lame-O-Meter” compared to what some of the ladies were doing, which I found out the next few days.
My first lesson as a pro, never assume the meaning of “continental breakfast”. The woman who checked me into my room told me that continental breakfast was served from 7:30am to 10am. So, I assumed that I would be able to eat a few pieces of toast, maybe some fruit, or a yogurt. Monday morning – I found myself in a small room standing behind a man coughing straight into the breadbasket as he fiddled with the toaster. I looked into the basket and I saw a few slices of white bread and English muffins. I looked further down the counter to find a toaster, stale muffins, and coffee – so much for continental breakfast. I grabbed what looked best, the English muffins, and put it through the toaster about 4 times hoping that the heat killed off the cold, pneumonia, tuberculosis, or whatever Mr. McSickly had so graciously peppered onto my breakfast. Breakfast was no great success, but luckily I had some goldfish to snack on during the round to hold me over.
I had a solid first round. Three birdies, three bogeys to shoot even par, 72. I was hitting the ball well off the tee and clubbing myself fairly well with the strong winds that prevailed. I did not have as many birdie opportunities as I would have liked, but I putted well, making my birdies from substantial distances. After my round was when I discovered where some of the ladies had gone to prepare for the tournament – Foxwoods. Westerly, RI is well within the reaches of temptation and I couldn’t believe how many made the trip to the popular casino. After a little practice, it was back to the hotel room. I did not give in to Foxwoods and tended to my nightly activities of stretching, some TV, a little reading, some more TV, and a few more pages because the book is pretty good.
Tuesday morning I was prepared. I had bought some bananas and yogurt the day before so I didn’t have to set foot in the continental breakfast room. It was not quite as chilly as Monday but the wind was still blowing at a decent speed. Ricky “Magic” Coleman was nice enough to caddy for me that day and although it was not my best showing, it was a lot of fun. I had just a few silly mistakes that I feel can be chalked up to mental errors and it cost me. I shot 75, tied for 3rd place and lost by 3 strokes.
Although I knew I had the capacity to win the tournament, I was happy with my first professional showing. Even more exciting, was earning my first winnings of $1,250. Overall, it was a good week. I played my first pro event, made my first check, read 150 pages in my book, and watched a little bit too much TV. The only problem with winning money is your parents expect you to pay for the celebratory dinner – it was worth it (just pick a cheaper place next time).

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