Joanie Barber, Sandy Shuster & Maeneen Klein

Go Outside And Play…The Other Side of Golf

DatawWomensGolfClub0420April 2020 Issue
by Mary Hope Roseneau    
Photography by Elias Trisler

Meeting three members of the Dataw Island Women’s Golf Association (DIWGA) at the pub next to the pro-shop was a delight. Joanie Barber, president, Sandy Shuster, treasurer, and Maeneen Klein, golf and greens committee member, joined me for an informative discussion about the organization. Though they are all three avid golfers, they stressed that for them, golf is about having fun.

The DIWGA, as it is known, has about 200 members. They play on Thursdays, Ladies Day at the two courses, Cotton Dike and Morgan River, and many other days of the week, as well. There are 12 tournaments in the year, and many special events, such as the hosting of collegiate women’s golf tournament the first weekend in March. Some of their members are serious, competitive golfers and travel around in the Coastal Carolina Ladies League, playing courses from Fripp Island to Sea Pines. But the majority of the women, they emphasized, play to have fun.

The president, Joanie Barber confessed to not even having held a golf club before coming to Dataw Island seven years ago. She was a busy wife and mom, and worked, and didn’t have time for golf in her schedule. She was invited by someone when she moved to Dataw to come join a foursome, even as a complete newbie, and was hooked. She took advantage of some lessons, and has been playing ever since. She says she never envisioned her retirement time to include so much golf, or becoming the president of the organization.

The other two ladies had played some in earlier years, but of course life got in the way with babies, car pools and careers. When they moved to Dataw they picked their clubs back up, literally, and got right back to playing, getting back into the swing of things where they left off more or less. As Sandy said, “This is as good as it gets,” meaning her game, and she doesn’t fret over her handicap one bit. Being outside, with friends, and seeing the island wildlife and breathtaking views is much more important.

For Maeneen, (yes, she’s Irish!) it’s totally therapeutic. The exercise is fun, never boring like a gym, and the added feature of fresh air and good friends is just the right prescription. She says this is a game that ladies can play well into their 90’s. What other activity or sport can offer that longevity? The ladies mentioned several older ladies who have memory problems, but still can smack the little white balls like any of them. Muscle memory, evidently is one of the last things to go.

Maeneen also appreciates the camaraderie, and knowing there are women on the island who are there for each other, in good times and bad. They have a “Sunshine Club” that organizes meals and rides for residents who have surgery, illnesses or other crises—reassuring when families are far away.

All three reiterated that on the golf courses they enjoy seeing the “best parts of the island,” areas not accessible by roads, or even bike paths. They see eagle nests, so many birds, and of course, alligators. But they leave them alone, everyone agreed. If you hit a ball in water, just forget it, it’s gone!

The mentoring of seasoned players with beginners is an important aspect of the Ladies Golf Association. Golf is a game that you really only play with yourself, not against the others, they stressed. More talented golfers can be paired up with those not so gifted, and all just have a good day, regardless. They keep score these days on their cellphone, and of course hopefully all players are improving, but if not, they go out to lunch afterwards and they’ve had a great day.

All three ladies summed up their golf game being really about friendship, getting physically active and outside, and most of all, having fun.

How do I start playing golf?
(Advice from all three ladies)

What equipment do I need?
A basic set of used clubs; a driver, a putter, a few fairway woods, maybe 5 clubs total; a bag, golf balls, tees, markers, bug spray, and sun screen.

What do you wear?
Spikeless shoes, or even tennis shoes; shorts, pants, skorts, etc. but not jeans; shirts can be sleeveless, but must have a collar, no halter, tank tops or t-shirts, and most important, have pockets!

What about golf etiquette and rules?
Keep it moving from one hole to the next, “Pace of Play” is very important. Talking is allowed, not like men’s tournaments that stress SILENCE. You don’t always have to play 18 holes; the new slogan from PGA is “Play 9!” if you’re busy.

How to get going?
Find a mentor/friend who will give you tips, take a few lessons and watch some YouTube videos.

Absolutely most important:
Enjoy yourself! It’s an intellectual as well as physical game, but never let that interfere with the social aspect. It’s all about finding your “sister tribe” on the links.