Working Under the Gum

Garrity_200x247 Readers often ask which tournaments are my favorite to cover. I say, "British Open, hands down." I pause for a moment and then add, "Or maybe the Kraft Nabisco."  No kidding. I love the LPGA's first major. Or rather, I love leaving Kansas City, when spring is still a few weeks away, and setting up camp in the shade of a eucalyptus tree in Rancho Mirage, Calif. What I really love, I guess, is that whole Mission Hills Country Club scene –- the lush fairways, the sparkling ponds, the ducks, the red-roofed condos, the rugged mountains and, again, those tall, shaggy-barked trees that line the fairways.

They call them gum trees in Australia, and many homeowners consider them junk trees because of their sticky sap and endless dropping of skinny leaves. But gums are lovely to look at and provide the coolest shade in golf. If I wanted to spend an indolent afternoon at a golf tournament, I'd go out on the back nine of the Tournament Course, unfurl a blanket under the trees, and take a nap, cracking open an eye every now and then to watch Paula Creamer or Lorena Ochoa march by.

Granted, I don’t have to rake the leaves. (Photo: Robert Beck/SI)

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by Kevin Cunningham