Bob Estes was 140 yards from the hole, standing over a pink ball and wearing a sombrero. As if that wasn’t daunting enough, his wife and three other women wearing short white skirts and knee-high Argyle socks were jumping nearby and yelling “Hole it, hole it, hole it!”
He did not hole it.
Not even close, actually, although that hardly mattered.
Tuesday was Ladies Day at PGA National, site of this week’s Honda Classic. They played the PGA Tour Wives Classic, where 37 spouses and significant others of tour pros played a nine-hole, four-woman scramble, with the husbands wearing pink-trimmed caddie bibs and being drafted to play mulligans.
By day’s end, nearly $100,000 was raised for charity.
“We’re on the road 30 to 35 weeks a year and the road becomes our home,” said Amy Wilson, the wife of 2007 Honda champion Mark Wilson and the president of the PGA Tour Wives Association. “The PGA Tour gives so much back through each tournament through charities, and we get to mirror that and help in our own way too. And through the connections we have through our husbands, we can open doors.”
Former LPGA player Angie Oberholser was the tournament director, and she spent nearly a full year organizing everything. There were gift bags for everyone and specially made hats designed by Vicky Waldorf, the wife of longtime tour pro Duffy Waldorf.
Oberholser is pregnant and said she wasn’t sure if “good-golfer Angie or pregnant Angie” would be on the first tee. Good-golfer Angie was there; she drilled her opening drive perfectly down the fairway, drawing applause from about two dozen PGA National members who showed up to watch.
“This tournament is a lot of work,” said Oberholser, who threatened to fire her caddie and husband Arron last year, but had Matt Kuchar on her bag Tuesday because her spouse is recovering from surgery. “But I really enjoyed it.”
The wives association donated more than $246,000 to charity last year, plus had members volunteer time at soup kitchens, building sites, schools, hospitals and with children’s programs.
Indeed, the fundraising side was taken extremely seriously.
The golf, not so much.
When caddie David Duval was digging a ball out of some muck on the first tee, fellow caddie Brad Faxon jumped out of his cart to take a picture. Alli McKenzie nearly whiffed a tee shot when she learned that the par-3’s hole-in-one prize was a $500 gift card from Saks. (Not only did any of the women in her foursome hit the green, none even cleared the cart path 75 yards ahead of them.)
“I’m not listening to my caddie anymore,” Liz Estes said after that hole.
And by the fourth hole of the day, Leot Chen — with Vaughn Taylor as her caddie — showed off an unusual one-handed grip on a 40-yard pitch: Wedge in the right hand, cocktail in the left.
So it goes when the final instruction before the shotgun start reminded players that “we will have margaritas for you out there.”
“This is so much fun,” Brenda Calcavecchia said. “Everybody gets involved in it. We do events all year long, but this is kind of the big thing for us. It’s probably the biggest fundraiser we do and it’s just fun. People get so excited about it.”
Her husband, Mark Calcavecchia, has a bit of an obsession about changing putters often. She hasn’t changed hers in nearly a decade, even though she once hit a putt 100 feet past the hole — some 30 yards back up the fairway — when she had an opportunity to play Augusta National a few years back.
How’s Mark as a caddie?
“Depends on how many beers,” she said. “He sees things differently than I do. He doesn’t see the water and the sand. I see the water and the sand. And my nickname is Golden Tee, because he has to line me up. Little left, little right, right there.”
Brenda Calcavecchia took about a half-dozen swings on the driving range, slicing just about everything. She thought the dangling bracelet on her left wrist was the problem, but fortunately, the caddie delivered good advice. “Aim left and swing harder,” Mark Calcavecchia said.
There was a lot of tips like that Tuesday.
The scene couldn’t have been more laid-back. They posed for pictures on just about every hole, cheered like crazy when topped 75-yarders from the fairway happened to roll up on the greens, and more than a few freely acknowledged they didn’t know what was on their scorecard — nor did they care.
“My wife has high expectations on every shot, with a very low amount of work put into her game,” Mark Wilson said. “To see all the other players and their wives in a setting like this, and we don’t have to hit a shot, there’s no pressure on us at all. So this is so much fun.”