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Published: Thursday, 8/5/2004

Straying the course: Hobbies help golf pros unwind from tour rigors

BY RHONDA B. SEWELL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Most of us work hard through the week, and for many people, a round of golf on the weekend is a way to relax and unwind from the stresses of Monday through Friday.

But for women of the Ladies Professional Golf Association, teeing off on the course is a career, not a hobby. So we asked a few of the golf pros participating in this week's Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic at Highland Meadows Golf Club about their off-course hobbies.

"I'm not very good. I'm a beginner. In fact, I'm very bad," said Gulyanamitta (pronounced Gal-ah-yah-nah-mee-ta) laughing while pulling the guitar she bought one year ago out of her car.

Brandi Jackson says she enjoys shopping while she's not on the golf course.
Brandi Jackson says she enjoys shopping while she's not on the golf course.
KING / BLADE Enlarge

The left-handed tour rookie, who is from Rayong, Thailand, said she took up the guitar in order to play Thai songs with her sister who likes to sing.

"It's not like golf. It gives me something to do when I'm in my hotel and not playing golf. I play Thai music because it's the only one I can read," said Gulyanamitta, who added that she also enjoys basketball, table tennis, and talking on the phone with friends.

For Meredith Duncan, 24, also a tour rookie, sports and music fill her life off the golf course.

Wearing a Chicago Cubs baseball cap while hitting a few balls after Monday's pro-am, Duncan said she tries to take in a ballgame in every city she visits. A basketball point guard during her school years, Duncan said she plans to take in a Mud Hens game in Toledo.

But music is her No. 1 hobby.

Meredith Duncan chooses one of the more than 500 CDs that she carries in her sport-utility vehicle on the LPGA Tour.
Meredith Duncan chooses one of the more than 500 CDs that she carries in her sport-utility vehicle on the LPGA Tour.
KING / BLADE Enlarge

"I played violin for 10 years, but because of golf I don't get to play as much anymore, but I love listening to music. I also try to go to concerts whenever I can," said Duncan, of Shreveport, La. She lists some of her favorite groups and artists as Better Than Ezra, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, and Shirley Q Liquor.

The golfer is so caught up in the world of music that the interior of her sport-utility vehicle resembles a music store, with CDs packed in their original cases in the trunk, in three notebook-sized CD holders in the back seat, and in two CD holders over each front seat visor.

"I have over 500 CDs in my car," Duncan said proudly. Reading, watching movies, and singing karaoke are her other hobbies.

When asked to name her favorite hobby, 23-year-old Brandi Jackson said with a straight face: "Shopping. No, it really is shopping. Golf is my hobby, but shopping is my profession," Jackson, of Williamston, S.C., said jokingly.

A rookie on the tour, Jackson, who started playing golf at age 8, said she likes to hunt for bargains at designer discount outlets. "Sometimes I like to just go and look," she added.

Jackson said she recently took up tennis and is considering getting into scrapbooking to document special occasions, such as her sister's upcoming wedding.

Laura Myerscough, 24, of Charleston, Ill., said running and reading top her list of hobbies.

"I enjoy running. During the off-season, I like to run half-marathons," said Myerscough, a rookie on the tour who took up running while attending the University of Arizonia. Myerscough said she runs 15 to 20 miles a week during the golf season, and about 25 miles a week in the off-season.

Laura Myerscough, 24, of Charleston, Ill., said running and reading top her list of hobbies.
Laura Myerscough, 24, of Charleston, Ill., said running and reading top her list of hobbies.
KING / BLADE Enlarge

She said she also loves reading and that her mother keeps her abreast of books announced in Oprah's Book Club.

"Right now I'm reading, The Purpose Driven Life [by Rick Warren] and I'm starting the one by Lance Armstrong," Myerscough said.

Golfer Clarissa Childs, 30, of Columbia, S.C., said her hobbies all involve the great outdoors.

"I went fishing last week and caught some walleye in Lake Erie. I love to Jet-Ski, and I go deer hunting and duck hunting. My grandpa bought me a .410 shotgun," said Childs, who is sponsored by the band Hootie & the Blowfish. Her rookie year was in 2002.

Tonya Gill, 33, of Atlanta, whose rookie year was in 1995, said heightened security in American airports has prevented her from engaging in some of her favorite hobbies, which include needlepoint and cross-stitch.

"I used to needlepoint while I was waiting on my plane in the airport lobby, but because of security I can't pack my needles or my scissors anymore," Gill said.

At home, she enjoys interior decorating and do-it-yourself home improvement projects in her condominium.

"I built my own shelves," she said. "But I'm running out of room to store my tools."



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