FORT WAYNE – Just one time. Just one time you’d like to hit a fade like that.
Instead, when you hit a fade, it turns wild and rebellious and gets a tattoo and dyes its hair purple, and suddenly it’s just another banana slice headed off toward Monroeville. And off you trudge after it, cursing its faithless trajectory.
Amanda Blumenherst does not do this.
Instead, she rakes another ball out of the pile with her iron and settles over it in perfect balance, and her swing is like poured honey. There’s a soft click and the ball sails out there in the blue, and the kids gathered around her shade their eyes and follow it into the morning sun.
Eventually it curves gently to the right, as commanded.
The kids and their parents and all the onlookers thinking Just one time applaud, and this is Blumenherst’s morning Friday, this is the start of what is, in a sense, her weekend.
A dozen LPGA players are coming to this city at her behest. Sunday and Monday, they’ll tee it up at Blumenherst’s old home course, Sycamore Hills, for charity and cash at the Mad Anthonys Charity Classic for Children.
I am feeling a little bit more responsibility, she says.
Which is maybe another way of saying she feels duty-bound, because she’s blessed and she knows it.
She plays golf for a living, and it’s a pretty good living. She’s made $74,322 in 11 tournaments this season.
And she knows, like all of her peers, that doesn’t happen without the support and encouragement of a whole lot of people in Fort Wayne where she grew up and Arizona where she blossomed as a golfer, and Durham, N.C., where she had the time of her life at Duke.
It’s really all about giving back, Blumenherst says. We’ve all been given so much; being able to play a professional sport as a living is very special, so being able to give back to the community is really important to all of us.
So here she is this Friday morning at the Lifetime Sports Academy, hitting fades and draws and punch shots and wedges. Around her stands a semicircle of kids, some of them wearing Wildcat baseball caps and some carrying swim gear in canvas bags and some carrying golf clubs.
Here’s a girl toward the back in lavender shorts, correctly identifying what a draw is.
Here’s a girl wearing her backpack on her head.
And here’s a guy with two young children in tow – one boy, one girl – whose son is learning golf at LSA this morning and playing Wildcat baseball this afternoon.
He’s got a busy day, I say.
So does Dad, the guy replies with a laugh.
Blumenherst, on the other hand, has a busy weekend, and it starts with this clinic.
It’s a respite, or not, from her third full LPGA season, in which she’s finally gotten comfortable with the routine but has had some ups and downs on the course.
So far this year, she has one top-10 finish. And she’s missed five cuts.
My season’s been OK, she says. Could be better.
And the rest of life on tour?
I definitely have the schedule down, the routine, she says.
It has been a learning experience. I feel like I’m a little bit more of a pro at it. I even have a little sister’ on tour that I’m trying to give some tips to.
Tips. Now she’s talkin’.
How do I make that fade behave?