Women's Golf Month: Stories from the Lowcountry's female pros

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Caroline Dennison

This Women’s Golf Month, five Lowcountry pros tell us how they fell in love with the game, how they teach it to others and how the occasional celebrity encounter can make for a great story.


Caroline Dennison

This Women’s Golf Month, five Lowcountry pros tell us how they fell in love with the game, how they teach it to others and how the occasional celebrity encounter can make for a great story.


Caroline Basarab-Dennison


Caroline Basarab-Dennison
‘What (Tiger) didn’t know was that my tee shot sailed 30 yards past his!’


Hometown: Missouri City, Texas
Current position: Manager of Retail at the Sea Pines Resort, PGA Class A Golf Professional
Years in the Lowcountry: 12 1/2

What’s your earliest golf memory? I loved playing golf in the evenings with my dad. He would make it fun by challenging me to hit difficult shots. If I hit a good one, I would win a fictitious prize, such as a car, jewelry or vacation.

Most memorable experience with a client: This was during my first collegiate golf tournament at Texas A&M. I had been waiting all my life to play on the traveling squad, and the night before the tournament I broke out in hives. I ignored everything until the next day, when my face and hands became completely swollen. (It turned out to be poison ivy, which I am highly allergic to.) Needless to say, I just wanted to play for my teammates, so on the last day of the tournament, when all the swelling finally went down, I heard my playing partners commenting about this courageous red-headed girl who played in the tournament. I didn’t have the heart to tell them it was me.

Golf philosophy (in 25 words or less): Keep it simple and have fun!

Story you most enjoy telling at parties: I had the opportunity to play with Tiger Woods in Orlando about seven years ago. It was a customer appreciation tournament, and a scramble format. Tiger was hitting off the back tees along with rest of my group, and I was hitting off the forward
ones. Everyone was talking, so they didn’t notice that I had hit a great drive down the middle of the fairway. Tiger arrived at his ball and waited, assuming we would use his shot, but what he didn’t know was that my tee shot sailed 30 yards past his!

My group and his friends were giving him some banter about it, so we all decided to play my drive. Apparently, this got Tiger’s competitive juices flowing, because after I hit my second shot six feet from the flag he tried to put his shot closest to the hole. After Tiger hit his approach, he immediately left the group to see who had hit the best shot. As the rest of us pulled up to the green, I found him bouncing my ball off his golf club. He had a big smile on his face and said, “You didn’t think I was going to hit two of your shots today!”



Krista Dunton


Krista Dunton
‘Secret Service members in shorts and dark socks were hanging around the whole time.'

Hometown: Atherton, Calif.
Current position: Senior instructor at Berkeley Hall
Years in the Lowcountry: 8

What’s your earliest golf memory? I grew up playing golf at Stanford University, so some of my earliest and fondest memories are going out on the course in the evening with my Mom and playing until dark from when I was about 9 all the way through college. When I’m home, my Mom and I will still slip out and play 9 in the evenings, usually with some kind of bet on the line!

Most memorable experience with a client: I worked with an older lady every week. One time I asked how her week was on the course and she replied, “I played so well the other day that I had 5 RIDERS!” “What’s a rider?” I asked, and she said, “I hit the ball far enough i could ride in the cart to get it!”

Golf philosophy (in 25 words or less): Knowing what to change and what to leave alone is key. Often, changing just a few things has the greatest effect.

Story you most enjoy telling at parties: I used to work at an exclusive club in New York, and once taught the ex-head of the CIA. Secret Service members in shorts and dark socks were hanging around the whole time, and there were helicopters flying overhead. I also used to be the Assistant Coach at Princeton. Every year we played golf at Pine Valley, and I’ll never forget telling the brightest young women in the country that they weren’t allowed to use the front entrance into the clubhouse because they were female.


Dr. Jean Harris


Dr. Jean Harris
‘I asked her where she wanted to hit me this week’


Hometown: Hollywood, Fla.
Current position: Director of Instruction at Rose Hill and Belfair
Years in the Lowcountry: 3

What’s your earliest golf memory? Being 11 years old and watching Arnold Palmer and Patty Berg.

Most memorable experience with a client: I was helping a student and she hit me in the shin. It started bleeding but really didn’t hurt. At our next lesson, she brought me a bottle of wine to apologize, so I asked her where she wanted to hit me this week.

Golf philosophy (in 25 words or less): The teacher needs to know a lot about her student. A good instructor teaches people golf and not golf to people.

Golf story you most enjoy telling at parties: When I first started dating my husband, he knew that I played golf but not how I hit the ball. I explained to him that he was dating “a hooker”.

 


Emily Kuhfeld

Emily Kuhfeld
‘My roommate was asking (Nicklaus) all sorts of questions, but all I could do was stare.’


Hometown: Indianapolis, Ind.
Current position: Women’s golf coach at the University of South Carolina Beaufort
Years in the Lowcountry: 2 1/2

What’s your earliest golf memory? Going to Butler University and hitting balls near the practice football field; my dad and I would hit for hours! They put a sign up a few years later: “No Golf Practice.”

Most memorable experience with a client: I once taught a guy who had never shot below 45 for 9 holes. I gave him three lessons and at before the fourth he showed me a scorecard — 37!

Golf philosophy (in 25 words or less): Using strong communication skills and knowledge, I provide each student with a simple and effective plan.

Golf story you most enjoy telling at parties: When I was a freshman at The Ohio State University, my roommate and I (ahem, skipped class) and went to the Memorial Golf Tournament. We watched for hours, and near the end I suggested we find Gary Nicklaus. Well, who did we find outside the ropes but Jack Nicklaus — who walked with us for the next six holes! Jack has always been my favorite golfer and an inspiration, so of course I was speechless. My roommate was asking all sorts of questions, but all I could do was stare. He signed our programs after the 9th hole, and I was so nervous that I could barely speak when he asked my name. On our way back to the car, we were jumping up and down, and who should drive by but ... Jack Nicklaus, passing us on a golf cart and laughing his head off.

 

Heidi Wright-Tennyson


Heidi Wright-Tennyson
‘It made me laugh every time’


Hometown: Johnstown, Ohio
Current position: Director of golf at the Moss Creek Golf Club
Lowcountry resident since: November 1993

What’s your earliest golf memory? Receiving my first set of clubs at age 10 from my Aunt Katie. We hit balls on the range all week — and I played my first nine holes on the last day of my visit with her.

Most memorable experience with a client: Watching students’ faces when they accomplish something for the first time. It doesn’t matter if that means they broke par for the first time, hit their longest drive ever or carried the water hazard on the par 3.

Golf philosophy (25 words or less): To maximize enjoyment for every player who wants to learn this great game — regardless of skill level.

Golf story you most enjoy telling at parties: When I was a junior golfer, I played a local nine-hole public course. My regular playing partners were named Lena and Betty, who were both retired. Lena would tee up her yellow Nicklaus ball with the Golden Bear logo, look at me and say, “Heidi, I’m gonna hit this bear right in the behind!” (but she didn’t use the word behind). It made me laugh every time.

 

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