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Broward Women’s Am Rocks – They Were Right

“You need to put yourself in competition more. We need one more player to fill the teams,” they said.
I was a relatively new golfer with only five years of experience (four if you factor in the 10 months I was out for back surgery).

And who were they? They were the ladies of Fort Lauderdale Country Club, the club we joined in January 2012 after picking up this crazy, wonderful sport. The teams we were filling were for the 2017 Broward County Women’s Amateur Championship, affectionately referred to as the Broward Am. I really wanted to say no, but my face contorted into something like yes. Was I nervous? Of course I was. I had been working very hard on my game and held a respectful 25 index, but this was a two-day championship tournament – my first real competition.

“It will be good for you,” they said.

I had so much fun … no one has had to persuade me to play each year since. The Broward Am is always on my schedule.

Friday, March 3, the day before the tournament, I got a text from my daughter – my nine months’ pregnant daughter – that she was in labor … Yippee! “Mom, you’ve got Alia, right?” I had agreed to care for my 2-year-old granddaughter while her baby brother was being born … her dad had planned to stay with them at the hospital. “Yep, I got her.” How was this going to work out?

The day of the tournament, and after my juggling act with Alia, I was a kaleidoscope of emotions. I was exhausted from lack of sleep – not used to the static noise from the baby monitor next to my bed, deeply in love with my grandchildren, excitedly nervous about playing in my first real competition, and as a two-time breast cancer survivor, feeling blessed to be alive to experience it all.

Once I arrived, I was thoroughly impressed with how hard the volunteer event organizers worked to make it a success. Their dedication was obvious.

Quick registration? Check.

Awesome goodie bags? Check.

Huge, unique, fully donated silent auction? Check.

I saw some familiar faces, but many were complete strangers. So many ladies – 108 to be exact – so many smiling faces. It seemed everyone knew about baby Ashton’s unscheduled arrival. The warm wishes and congratulations were overwhelming.

Nervous jitters gone? Check.

We had high winds that weekend, sometimes blowing more than 30 mph. Golf balls wobbled on the greens, and some actually rolled away on their own, without being touched. Flags bent so far over I thought they would snap. I was new to golf – I had no idea how to read the wind or what to do when the ball wouldn’t sit still long enough for me to hit it.

It was a competition, so asking for assistance was a big no-no. But, as for general questions, I had plenty.

No one looked at me with judgment. In fact, everyone was more than willing to help. I thought I might be embarrassed for being a rookie, but those fears were quickly put to rest. The other players were so patient and welcoming. At some point, I just laughed and rolled with the punches … we were all experiencing the same circumstances. Under the guise of a competitive championship tournament is a fun, supportive opportunity to make lasting memories and friendships. By the end of the first day, I was the leader in my flight. What? How did that happen?

The second day, after repeating my previous day’s circus act, I arrived and met my cart partner. She was in second place, but only by one stroke. She was gracious and very nice, but she was in it to win it. The wind continued to howl that day, worse than the day before, but I kept my head down and played steadily.

Somehow, I did it – I pulled it off. By just three strokes, I was the gross champion in my flight.

“You need to put yourself into competition,” they said.

I have to admit, they were right.

Playing that year helped increase my confidence and my ability to compete. Ladies from all over Broward County, ages 18 and up, at all handicap levels, come together to play in the Women’s Broward Am.

The theme for last year’s cancelled event was “Play for the Fun of It.” We got to choose our first-day playing partner. As much as it is about the game, it’s also about giving back to our community. Proceeds from the event support the LPGA/USGA Girls Golf and The First Tee of Broward County. In 2019, the Broward Am hosted the Junior Golf Championship, an 18-hole competition for young girls learning the sport. Jade Scott, the winner, was so proud when she received her award, it made the whole experience so much more satisfying. For the love of golf, for the love of community and for helping to grow the game.

I had so much fun … no one has had to persuade me to play each year since. The Broward Am is always on my schedule.

Although I haven’t placed again, I’ve made so many wonderful friends. Now, most of the faces are familiar and the camaraderie is special. Golf can be frustrating at times, and in some rare cases, intimidating. While I can’t help with the frustration, I can attest to the friendliness and inviting spirit of the women golfers participating in the Broward Am.

If you’re a female golfer residing in Broward and you’re looking for some fun competition, sign up to play in this year’s event on April 18 and 19 at Jacaranda Golf Club in Plantation. Stop by and say hi.

Melody Saleh is a Broward County native and avid golfer. She holds a 15 index and is WGA President at The Fort Lauderdale Country Club. She also is an author whose recently released the finale, C’est La Vie, of her Unbroken Series trilogy. She’ll be giving away and signing a copy of Facade, book one of the series, for participants at the 2021 tournament. Contact her at melody@melodiousenterprises.com.

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