By Yvonne Thomas

Are you a 21st century woman golfer? If not, would you like to be?

YGolf Magazine's motto defines it as being fit, fabulous, passionate about your golf game and how you look on the course. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. The 21st century woman golfer not only gets great joy from the sport, but she's also a very business savvy individual who has discovered the great networking opportunities that are just waiting to be taken advantage of.

Since 2011, YGolf Magazine has brought you stories of real 21st century women golfers to  share how and when they started golfing and why they remain so passionate about the sport.  I keep getting asked how I got started in the game. So, here's my story.

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For the 21st century 
Woman golfer! 

My personal golf journey was ignited in 2002, but when I took a deeper look at my own story, I realized that my hidden passion existed long before I even realized it. Born in Fort Ord, California on the Monterey Peninsula, I can honestly say my first breath was taken in an area that can be described as one of the world's most beautiful golf meccas. 

My big brother was bitten by the golf bug when he was a teenager, and I went to a driving range for the first time with him when I was 8 or 9 years old. I spent most of that time watching him hit balls with me goofing around with the putter, and I didn't actually pick up another golf club until my senior year in college at USC.

As a Sports Information broadcasting major, I graduated with a double major in broadcast journalism and physical education, and the curriculum required selecting and completing a few courses that combined not only theoretical comprehension of the sport but active participation as well. At first glance, golf seemed a safer choice than trying to run drills with the Trojan football team. Ya think?

I spent one semester learning the basics of golf and actually getting out on a real course for practical experience. My memories of trying to hit the ball at Arroyo Seco golf course in Pasadena were priceless albeit for the wrong reasons. I quickly learned that "swing and a miss" is a term not used exclusively for baseball. The few times I swung and actually hit the golf ball though was an exhilarating feeling. But after the semester ended, I didn't pick up another golf club for almost 20 years. 

In the meantime, the Tiger Woods phenomenon officially began in 1997. I was mesmerized by his story, became a huge fan, followed his career closely on television and attended tournaments when he came to town. Watching golf became one of my favorite pastimes, and coincidently, I was also looking for a new hobby. After 13 years in corporate America and then finally getting my feet wet as a budding entrepreneur, it was becoming apparent that all work and no play was the fast track to career burnout. I wanted to have more fun.

While sifting through some junk mail one day, I thumbed through a community college catalogue, saw a listing for golf lessons and immediately got excited. I also immediately told myself to calm down, and it took a lot of self control to stop myself from running out to the nearest sporting goods store and buying a set of golf clubs. One visit to the spare bedroom in my house would divulge my dark little secret. I already owned a sporting goods store, and it was downstairs in my house! 

Welcome to Yvonne's 24-hour fitness gym! I had a treadmill, a weight bench, 100+ pounds of chrome free weights, a Jane Fonda step for step aerobics, an Ab-doer, a library of fitness videos, a Wavemaster punching bag, AND I had floor to ceiling mirrors installed on one wall (just like in the gyms) so I could watch my progress. But I think I forgot to mention one minor detail. It all looked good, but I wasn't actually using any of it. All of this equipment was collecting dust except that my two very enterprising cats had started using my leather weight bench as a scratching post. At least somebody was getting some exercise. 

My sad admission is that I had been searching for a hobby for years but nothing stuck. I would get excited, run out and buy all of the goodies, use them for a month or two and promptly lose interest. At least this time I recognized my illness before investing hard earned cash on a set of clubs that quite possibly were going to end up as a cat toy.  

So I changed my strategy, and I signed up for the group golf lessons at El Cariso golf course -- without buying any clubs first. An instructor spent time showing me the proper technique, and I actually hit the ball! After a few lessons, I decided that I was really starting to like this golf thing, and I gave myself permission to buy a starter set. My boyfriend at the time was not a golfer, but he offered to go to the range and hit balls with me. We both got completely hooked on the game, and it became an activity that we shared together for many years. 

As my game improved, it made me only want to play more and more. Over the years, I've been a member of two women's golf teams, and I've met friends and made numerous, valuable business acquaintances. But I've neglected to mention possibly my most favorite thing about golf. The beautiful nature and wildlife that surrounds you on the course. The rabbits, the deer, and the squirrels that are resident spectators are a constant reminder that I have found my own little piece of heaven right here on earth. 

I am now entering my 9th year as a "real golfer," and I'm focusing on using the sport as a business and networking tool. What better place to meet with a client than on the golf course? I've taken private lessons 3 or 4 times from a variety of excellent teachers in Southern California, and my confidence has soared to the point where I can spontaneously show up at any course and sign up as a single. The majority of the time I get paired up with 3 guys, but I have no fear. Once they figure out that I can really play, I simply become one of their golf buddies for the day. My handicap hovers around 15 but my golf self esteem is enormous. 

As the year progresses, I will be bringing you more stories of Real 21st century women who golf. And YGolf Magazine continues to actively recruit advertisers and sponsors that will assist us in organizing clinics and events that will introduce the world of golf to women everywhere.
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Yvonne Thomas
YGolf Magazine, Publisher