Hot shots -- and golf tips -- from LPGA stars

Hot shots — and golf tips — from LPGA stars

How could we get our millions of male readers to pay more attention to the LPGA? The answer is obvious: Quality golf instruction. So we put six young LPGA players in a room at the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Virginia. The women sounded off on power, putting, preshot routines, etiquette, guy golfers and, yes, the importance of good form.

Every week, regular guys like you partner up with LPGA players — for a price. Pro-am fees range from $1,500 to $2,750 a day, depending on the event. Four remaining 2004 events have open spots:

  • Wachovia LPGA Classic (August 23-29), Berkleigh CC, Kutztown, Pennsylvania, 610-683-8311
  • State Farm Classic (August 31-September 5), The Rail GC, Springfield, Illinois, 217-528-5742
  • Safeway Classic (September 13-19), Columbia Edgewater CC, Portland, Oregon, 503-721-7477 ext. 10;
  • Longs Drugs Challenge (September 20-26), The Ridge GC, Sacramento, California, 916-443-2503.

See for the full tournament schedule.

Carin Koch

Blond. Leggy. Athletic. The envy of Annika Sorenstam in their junior days. Handsome golf-pro husband. Two adoring sons. What doesn’t Koch have? She’d like a few more wins, but this consummate pro is enjoying a stellar career, with three Solheim Cup appearances and more than $2.5 million in earnings.

Born: Kungalv, Sweden
Lives: Phoenix Status
Married to Stefan Koch; mother of Oliver, 5, and Simzon, 1
Career highlights: 8-2-2 Solheim Cup record; 1988 Swedish Girls Champion
Driving average: 251.8 yards
Stats: T28 in driving accuracy; T30 in rounds under par
Age: 33
Height: 5’6″
Turned Pro: 1992
Career earnings: $2,586,855
Wins: 2001 LPGA Corning Classic

“Spend money on lessons before you spend on equipment. Or spend on both, but definitely take lessons — especially short-game lessons…. Guys should use tempo and timing instead of trying to muscle the ball…. ‘Your swing looks great!’ Now that’s a good pickup line.”

What do you think the average guy can learn from LPGA players?
That you don’t always want to hit as far as you can. Some holes you’re better off hitting iron or a three wood. And sometimes you’re better off laying up. Also, you can hit a lot farther with good tempo and timing than by trying to muscle every shot.

Why do guys always try to kill it? It’s a man thing! It’s got to go far!

Do your partners ever try to compete with you in pro ams?
Not often because we’re on the same team. But there’s a little bit of competition—they’ll try to hit it farther. A lot of our pro am partners realize that’s not the main thing. And they notice we hit the fairway pretty much every time. They might hit farther, but they lack consistency.

How can a guy look great on the golf course? What are your fashion dos and don’ts?
I don’t like big golf shirts. They’re ugly. I’m European so I like things more tight fitting. Guys should shop for things that are sporty and well fitted, not three sizes too big. There are so many nice, stretchy materials out there now that are comfortable. And no loud patterns or flowers.

How about the PGA Tour players? Who looks good out there?
There are a few. I’m going to say Fred Couples. I always thought he was cute. He’s not beautiful, he’s sexy. To me he just looks nice and friendly.

What advice would you have for a guy who’s introducing his wife, girlfriend, or daughter to golf? Do women learn differently?
Women can be more sensitive, so you want to make sure you’re giving constructive criticism. Golf is tough for anyone in the beginning, but especially with young girls, you have to stay positive and encourage them a lot. You also have to make golf fun, because otherwise your girlfriend or wife or daughter will find something else to do.

What’s the worst approach to teaching golf?
Being bossy and impatient. It takes time for people to learn, so have patience and give people a break every now and then.

What’s your best tip for the average guy golfer?
Spend money on lessons instead of equipment—or spend on both but definitely take lessons, especially short game lessons. Also work on your tempo a little, slow things down.

Cristie Kerr

It’s been three years since Kerr lost 50 pounds and morphed from plump pro to shapely beauty. Recently, she called off her engagement to a Marine captain. Sad? She’s positively glowing.

Born: Miami
Lives: Miami
Career highlights: 3-1-0 record in two Solheim Cups; Florida State Junior Champion from 1993 – 95
Driving average: 265.6 yards
Stats: T1 in putts per greens in regulation; 5th in scoring average; 5th in total birdies; T7 rounds in the 60s
Age: 26
Height: 5’4″
Turned Pro: 1997
Career earnings: $3,083,933
Wins: 2002 Longs Drug Challenge; 2004 LPGA Takefuji Classic

“Tradeoffs are everything. If you want to play 36 holes but your girlfriend wants to shop, say, ‘Today I’ll play 36, next Saturday we’ll go shopping…. If you’re serious about helping your woman play better, get her lessons from a pro…. Darren Clarke, now there’s a guy who could charm the pants off anybody. And he looks great now that he lost weight. Just don’t try those red plaid pants he wore at The Masters. Ouch!”

“Play golf or watch golf with your significant other, but don’t do both. Too much golf is boring. And if you’re talking about golf in bed, that’s definitely too much.”

What do you think the average guy can learn from LPGA players?
The average golfer can relate more to us than to the men on the PGA Tour. The average man probably hits as far as we do if not a little farther so their games are more similar than our games. It’s a more realistic comparison than to the PGA Tour.

Is there one tip you wind up giving a lot of amateurs?
A lot of them stand over the ball for, like, a minute, and never look out toward the target. I try to help them get a better routine. I tell them to line themselves up and focus more on where they’re trying to hit it than on what they’re trying to do over the ball.

What advice do you have for a guy who’s trying to teach his wife or girlfriend or daughter the game?
That it usually causes arguments. Have her take lessons. If you have real knowledge of what you’re teaching, then it’s ok, but if you don’t understand golf you don’t have any business teaching.

What makes a guy look good on the golf course?
All the guys on the men’s tour look good because they’re well groomed. I have one fashion don’t—wearing striped shirts with plaid pants. I see that a lot.

What’s a great golf gift for a woman?
If you’re on vacation together and playing a lot of golf, a gift certificate to the spa so the lady can get away from the guy for a little while and get pampered. And new golf clubs or a gift certificate to her favorite golf store.

Is there anything a guy should never say to a woman on the golf course?
Um… You look fat?

Natalie Gulbis

Don’t call Gulbis the Anna Kournikova of golf — this blonde has credentials. Since turning pro in 2002, she’s notched 25 Top 25 finishes — and she is still just 21. Burly dad John, a former parole officer, is her constant companion.

Age: 21
Height: 5’9″
Turned Pro: 2002
Career earnings: $627,296
Wins: California Women’s Amateur at age 14

“My male pro-am partners always try to outdrive me. Guys, please — quit trying to kill the ball. With a smoother swing you’ll shoot lower scores, even without that one monster drive per round … Amateurs usually lack confidence. The way to get it is to spend more time on the range.”

Do your pro am partners ever try to compete with you?
Oh yeah. They try to hit farther.

How long does it take them to get over it?
As soon as they swing too hard and miss too many shots, it hurts their ego and they get it under control.

Is there one tip you give to a lot of amateurs?
Most guys work so hard to try it hit far that they lose accuracy. I tell them to try a smoother swing, with better timing. They’d be a lot happier doing that and shooting better scores—but maybe not hitting that one good monster ball a round. Everyone likes to hit it long—I love to hit long shots, I love to rip one.

What’s good etiquette when a guy is playing with a woman? Is there anything he should never say?
Good shot for a girl! That’s terrible.

What’s a good way for a guy to compliment a woman on her swing?
Any compliment is great because it’s someone reaching out to pay respect to what you do. I’d just avoid the gender references.

Mentally, where are a lot of amateurs weak?
Confidence — they’re lacking it.

How do you go about gaining it?
Spend more time on the range, more time practicing, getting out there on the course … but it’s hard because most people don’t get a lot of time to play.

What makes a guy look good on the golf course?
Nice, pressed dark pants. I like the Tommy Bahama look on guys. It’s so relaxed.

Who are your favorite PGA Tour players? Who looks good out there?
Adam Scott and Darren Clarke. He looks great. Now that he lost that weight he has this new presence. You can tell he feels good about himself. And Greg Norman always carries himself well. It’s all about how you carry yourself.

Is it healthy to compete with your significant other on the golf course?
Yeah, absolutely. But it’s better if you can compete against other couples and work as a team.

Jen Rosales

Rosales shot a Sunday 65 to win her first LPGA event (and $240,000) at the Chick-fil-A in early May, two days before we shot these photos. Though low on sleep — everyone was calling, including family, friends, reporters from her hometown of Manila at 4 a.m. — she still managed several “Oh my Gods!” when talking about golf’s cute guys (calling Aaron Baddeley) and shopping.

Born: Manila, Philippines
Lives: Rowland Heights, California
Career highlights: Philippine Ladies Amateur Champion from 1994 – 98; NCAA individual champion as a freshman at USC
Driving average: 263.6 yards
Stats: 25th in driving distance; T33 in scoring average:; T38 in rounds under par
Age: 25
Height: 5’5″
Turned Pro: 2000
Career earnings: $1,244,419
Wins: 2004 Chick-fil-A Charity Championship

“I like men who are confident enough to be different, like Jesper Parnevik. He wears pink, but he’s secure in his masculinity, and that’s what matters…. A compliment from a guy on my appearance means more than what he thinks about my swing!”

What’s a great golf gift for a woman?
It’s all about having nice shoes… shoes matter.

What can most guys learn from LPGA players?
They should pay attention to our tempo and our routines. But tempo is the main thing. If you watch us, we take a nice, one-two swing that’s so fluid. Guys just try to rip it.

How often do guys try to compete with you in pro ams?
They usually don’t want compete against me—they just want to win so bad that they put pressure on me. I feel bad for the team if I miss a putt for birdie. We’re human, not robots!

What should a guy never say to a woman on the course?
Play faster, speed up! Because guys think girls play slow, that we take our time, and it’s not true. It’s a major turn off.

Do men and women learn the game differently?
When guys pick up the sport they just want to hit far, while most women think of tempo. We aren’t as strong, so we go by our instinct and tempo, and that’s why girls are better putters. They want to hit hard and for us it’s all about touch-especially around the green. They can learn from us if they watch us.

What’s your best tip for the average mid- to high-handicapper?
Amateurs like to hit balls all day, but the short game is most important. That’s what counts. Practice your short game—putting, chipping, all of it.

Who are your favorite PGA Tour players? Who looks good?
I like guys who aren’t too stiff. I want them to let their hair down. I like Aaron Baddeley because he has style. I like guys who have their own style, something different.

What are some of your fashion dos and don’ts for guys?
I like when they wear nice flowing pants, not thick khakis. I like guys whose sense of style stands out, guys who are secure enough to wear different things, like Jesper Parnevik, I love the way he dresses. The guys make fun of him because he wears pink but he’s secure in his masculinity, That’s all that matters.

Paula Marti

You’ll forget about Marti’s cheekbones and easy laugh as soon as she birdies the par 5 you’re butchering. The 2002 Futures Tour Player of the Year, Marti could become the 21st century Jan Stephenson, an international poster girl and major-winner.

Born: Barcelona, Spain.
Lives: Barcelona
Career highlights: 1996 Spanish Women’s Amateur Champion
Driving average: 249.6 yards
Stats: T32 in putts per greens in regulation; T56 in putting
Age: 24
Height: 5’8″
Turned Pro: 2000

Career earnings: $133,540
International Wins: 2002 Australian LPGA Tournament of Champions; 2001 Italian Open; 2001 Ladies British Masters

“Americans wear their clothes baggy, which can make a man look like he doesn’t care about his appearance…. My golf is different from a man’s because I can’t compare my body with a man’s body — thank goodness! … My boyfriend doesn’t have much time for golf, but when he plays he always listens to every single thing I say. That’s a good man!”

What can most guys learn from LPGA players?
They can learn about rhythm. That’s what women are good at, while the guys just try to hit hard. It’s all about coordination and that’s what we do best.

What’s your best tip for amateurs?
To have patience, because this game is all about patience. That’s what I tell myself all the time. I can’t say I’m so patient on the golf course. I’m a fiery and emotional person, so it’s hard for me when I play badly to cool down. You have to realize the shot has already happened, and you can’t do anything about it. You just have to focus on the next one and try to do the best you can.

Who looks good on the PGA Tour?
Tiger, of course. He’s got a great body. I love his body. He’s in shape. The problem with golfers is that they look so much better with the hat. Take the hat off and they are totally different. Who else? Adam Scott, he’s a good looking guy…. just the way he walks, the way he looks, he’s fashionable. And Aaron Baddeley — I like his clothes and he’s young, athletic and fashionable.

What are your fashion dos and don’ts for the average guy?
If they have a nice body they should wear things tighter than what guys normally wear. Americans dress one way and in Spain they dress another. It’s more fitted. Everything here is too baggy, which makes a guy look like he doesn’t care about the way he looks.

Laura Diaz

Diaz learned the game from golf-pro father Ron Philo and cut her chops against older brother Ron Jr. — and the boys on her high school golf team.

Born: Scotia, New York
Lives: Amelia Island, Florida
Married to Kevin Diaz, a teaching pro
Career highlights: 1998 Rookie of the Year on the Women Professional Golfers’ European Tour
Driving average: 258.1 yards
Stats: T30 in rounds under par; 31st in greens in regulation; T41 in driving accuracy
Age: 29
Height: 5’8″
Turned Pro: 1997
Career earnings: $2,499,614
Wins: 2002 Welch’s Circle K; 2002 LPGA Corning Classic

“I prefer men who don’t say too many vulgar things, but if you’re going to play with guys, you’ve got to roll with it. It’s cool to be one of the guys for a while…. ‘Hit it, Alice!’ That’s a good one. It’s funny that men think women don’t putt aggressively. When my pro-am partners leave a putt short, I say, ‘Get it to the hole, Jack!'”

What’s good etiquette for guys when there’s a woman in their foursome?
I don’t think women need to be treated any differently. I grew up playing golf with my brother and father and on the boys’ golf team. I was just treated like any boy. One thing — it’s funny when men make fun of other men by saying — if they don’t get a putt to the hole — Hit it Alice! What I say to my pro am partners is, That’s a compliment! I don’t want to be treated any differently when I’m out there. I prefer guys don’t say too many vulgar things, but if you’re going to go out and play with a bunch of guys you have be prepared for a little more vulgar talk. But it’s cool to just go out and be one of the guys.

What’s your best tip for the average guy golfer? Do you see a lot of guys with the same flaws?
Alignment is the biggest thing. I play with four amateurs every week in our scrambles. One of four aligns poorly.

What do you tell them?
The clubface goes at the target, if clubface is at the target your body can’t be at the target, focus on keeping your clubface at the target and looking back and forth back and forth, clubface-target, clubface-target. When you do that you set up slightly open, you’re not totally parallel but a little to the left, if your body is at the target and the clubface is at the target, too, you’ll be coming over the top.

Mentally, where are most amateurs weak?
They want to know what they’re shooting at all times. I tell them to try to make numbers and not birdies, bogeys, pars or eagles. You don’t need to know if you’re one over or two over. People get ahead of themselves instead of staying in the present and working on making the lowest number they can.

How much golf should you talk with your spouse or significant other?
Either play it or watch it together; too much golf is boring. And if you’re talking about it in bed—that’s definitely too much.

Is it ok to compete with your significant other? Does it liven things up?
Competition is healthy. I love to compete and my husband loves to compete. It’s all about having a good time. Focusing on who can make the most birdies or putts makes a round more fun. Then at dinner you laugh about it. My husband gets harassed a lot because everyone wants to know if he’s ever beaten me. I always say if he can beat me I shouldn’t be playing. I’m lucky because he’s easy going, he doesn’t care if people harrass him.

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