Until this trip, my most memorable golf cart experience was on a family vacation when I was 9 years old and fell off the cart, requiring a visit to the emergency room to get my knee sewn up. The downside of the mishap is that I had to wrap plastic wrap around my leg and was prohibited from swimming for the rest of the week. On the upside, my dad took me to Ripley's Aquarium and Build-A-Bear (I named my bear "Stitches") while the rest of the family went to the water park. Whenever I have to provide a unique factoid about myself in an ice-breaker game, I can always talk about the scar on my knee that’s shaped like the United States, minus Florida and a portion of Texas.
My most recent golf cart ride took me down a long drive framed by arches of oak trees ornamented with Spanish moss as I was welcomed into Caledonia Golf and Fish Club on Pawleys Island, South Carolina. Needless to say, the golf cart trauma of summer 2001 has now been forever redeemed by one of the most fun and beautiful experiences I’ve been privileged to enjoy.
I came to Pawleys Island to have my very first golf lesson. I was slightly ashamed to admit that I’d never picked up a club other than to play putt-putt (or “goofy golf,” according to my dad Gary, who shamelessly refused to let us win as kids). But since learning what an incredible golf destination South Carolina is, I knew I needed to give it a try.
There are hundreds of golf courses in the Palmetto State—enough to play a different course every day of the year—and all beautiful and challenging in their own way. But when I was considering where I should take my first swing on the Grand Strand, Caledonia and its sister course, True Blue, were the names that kept popping up. I knew I couldn’t just borrow some clubs and book a tee time, though, oh no. As a “greenie” I needed some expert instruction, and lucky for me, there happens to be a golf school on the grounds of these two stunning coastal courses.
The Steve Dresser Golf Academy has been perfecting putts and honing golfers’ swing skills for more than 30 years, so when I arrived for my lesson with Director Steve Dresser himself, I was more than a little intimidated. I needn’t have been. After asking me some preliminary questions, like my athletic history and whether I was right- or left-handed, we headed out to the practice range.
He started by showing me how to properly hold the golf club and let me get a feel for a swing by walking me through the basic mechanics. Then I worked up to hitting a few off the tee. Okay. I knew golf was challenging, and I didn’t have any expectations of being a great success during my first lesson. I’m a realist. But I’m also a perfectionist. So, after the fifth time I missed the ball completely, I was a bit frustrated with myself. But Steve was patient and encouraging and made small corrections that eventually helped me get a hit. Despite the ball going in the opposite direction I was aiming for, I was thrilled!
Even as a novice, I quickly recognized that repetition is a key component to success in golf. There were students of all ages and skill levels out there, proving that having an instructor to help you improve is invaluable no matter how long you’ve been playing the game.
Once I got the hang of a basic swing, we made our way out to the 14th green at Caledonia. Just driving through the course was an experience in itself. It’s breathtaking, with lush greenery and blooms throughout the landscape. Not many can say they had the chance to take their first swings on one of South Carolina’s most beautiful golf courses.
While I’ll never be on the Women’s PGA Tour, I can definitely see myself playing more golf in the future, and there’s no better place to explore my new hobby than in South Carolina.
Filming for this show was done in part prior to Covid-19 and SCPRT recommends following local guidelines for social distancing and your personal protection. Some of the activities depicted in the “Go For It’ series might be affected, or even unavailable, due to Covid-19. Please check with the local provider or attraction for the latest schedules and hours of operation.