Addicted to the game the first time I tried it

Heidi-Wright-TennysonGolf lover shares her passion for the sport
Catch Heidi Wright-Tennyson at work, and golf is on the mind of the director of golf at Moss Creek Golf Club.

See her later checking out at the grocery store, and she’s likely thinking about the sport then, too.

Or spot her behind the wheel driving down Fording Island Road and — you got it.

“I’m a golf geek,” Wright-Tennyson said. “I think about golf almost all the time.”

She thinks about her staff, how to improve her own game and how to introduce golf to more people. She wants others to think about it, play it and love it, too. The Hilton Head Island woman works tirelessly toward that end.

“She is set apart by her passion of making golf fun here,” says Moss Creek golfer Joy Gibbons.

Wright-Tennyson’s favorite thing is teaching and promoting golf. “No question,” she said.

She volunteers as the Class A adviser to what is considered the strongest junior golf program in the state, the Hilton Head Island Junior Golf Association. The esteemed program bears Wright-Tennyson’s influence from multiple angles. She’s served on every position on the board.

Junior golf is crucial for the game, she said. More young players mean more adult players later. And more young players widen the chance that one of them will catch an early love of the sport, ushering in a career and lifelong passion.

That’s what happened to Wright-Tennyson. A golf-loving aunt bought her 10-year-old niece golf clubs, and that was it. “I was addicted to the game the first time I tried it,” Wright-Tennyson said.

Her summer days unwound on the greens of a nine-hole course near her home in Ohio, where she played religiously from ages 12 to 19.

She continued playing in college, but also began working at a golf club. That’s where her aspirations shifted from being a professional golfer to becoming a golf professional.

She still loves playing the game. In fact, she just returned from competing in a tournament in Bermuda.

But while working, she fell in love with coaching. “What she always tries to tell people is that golf is supposed to be fun,” said Gibbons, whom Wright-Tennyson has coached.

But Gibbon’s feels discouraged when some instructors roughly adjust her golfing habits, trying to change everything at once.

Yet when Wright-Tennyson improves Gibbons’ swing, the guidance comes gracefully. “She’ll always ask, ‘Do you get that?’” Gibbons said. “Or she’ll take your arm and move it back and say, ‘Do you feel that?’”

“She never makes you feel like you can’t do it,” Gibbons said.

But the coach doesn’t give the impression that the game is conquerable, either.  “It’s one you never master,” Wright-Tennyson said. “No way.”

Players only borrow the game, she said. And for Wright-Tennyson, she’ll happily borrow the sport for however many decades are before her.

“I foresee myself playing golf until I’m physically incapable,” she said, laughing.