Golf Digest held its third annual contest that lets one lucky winner play the US Open Course as it sets up for the players to try to break 100. This year it's the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links - what a dream! Golfers from all over sent in just short of 25,000 60-word essays on why they should be given the chance to break 100 at Pebble Beach with Mark Wahlberg, Drew Brees, and Wayne Gretzky.
The judges had a hard time narrowing down the field to just 5, but after meeting with 13 semi-finalists they felt they had five very deserving candidates. Here was the description from Golf Digest:
Eric, the choir teacher, is around 34 and carries a 7.8 handicap; another Eric, a plumber, is 41 and estimates his handicap at 8; Kenny is a 44-year old finance guy with a 7 handicap; Scott, a lawyer (who would like to be a sports agent) is 28 and is a 6.2 handicap; and Margaret (Peggy) is 51 and has a 4.8 handicap.
I honestly wasn't sure how I felt about a woman in the field...could a woman with a 5 handicap (I'm assuming from the forward tees) actually have a chance to break 100 on a 7,000+ yard course? Could it end up being embarrassing?
As I have done in each prior year, the first thing I do is vote for everyone once...it's my diplomatic side coming out. Then after much debate, I picked Peggy and voted for her every day that I remembered to from April 1- April 30. I've never been one of these "girl-power" people, but in this case, I just believed this would be a great opportunity not only for Peggy, but also for other women to see dedication and drive in the game of golf.
There was a part of me that thought she probably didn't have much of a chance of winning, so it was a surprise to read that Margaret "Peggy" Ference, of New Jersey, would be playing at Pebble Beach in June! Ference garnered over 37% of the 65,000 votes cast. WOW!
According to this Golf Digest article, Peggy used email and social networking (that Sam Johnson loves!) to help get the vote out - and apparently it worked! I did browse around a few sites and I found blog entries encouraging women to vote for Peggy and also sending along their congratulations after finding out that she had won.
Geoff Shackleford commented on his blog that once a woman was in the field of five, the rest of the guys really had no chance just because of the public voting factor, alluding to the fact that men are not likely to vote for reality contests. But the Golf Digest article said Eric the choir teacher was a close second (although it did not give the stats).
Well, I say "good for Peggy!!" - why wouldn't you want to get the word out and ask people to vote for you if you are in a contest?
A little more about Ference:
During her 2-year unemployment period, starting in 2007, Peggy dedicated herself to golf and worked with instructors to improve her game. She is a club champion and attempted to qualify for the US Women's Mid-Amateur. Since finding out that she was a finalist, she has been playing courses from the back tees and preparing to play longer holes, just in case. She has also landed a job!
It's great to have goals, and breaking 100 at Pebble Beach is definitely a good one, but regardless of what she shoots, I just hope that Peggy makes it a goal to soak up every moment and then tell us all about it after it's over. The round will be taped prior to the US Open and will air as a special just before the final round on June 20. Don't forget to set your DVR's!!
GOOD LUCK PEGGY!!
PS...in searching for info on this year's contest I ran across some articles on the first year's event in 2008 when John Atkinson, from Illinois, won and played at Torrey Pines. John had Stage 4 lung cancer at the time but was feeling good and able to play. He shot 114 but by his reaction and those of his playing partners, you'd think he'd shot par. It was one of my favorite moments in 2008, and one of my favorite golf moments ever. I was sad to read that Atkinson lost his battle with cancer in June of 2009.
I think there can be a stigma with lung cancer that it mostly relates to smoking and that people "choose" to get lung cancer. It's important to point out that Atkinson was never a smoker, and thousands of others battling lung cancer don't smoke either. He made it a priority to educate the public on the need for more research on lung cancer and he was a spokesperson for the Lung Cancer Alliance. I'm sure he'd appreciate you checking it out.
Thanks, John, for being an inspiration.
Filed under: Sam Johnson, US Open, 2010, Cathy Erickson, 2008, lung cancer, Peggy Ference, John Atkinson, Pebble Beach, Golf Digest