No gloomy gusses on the golf course

  • by Roger Brigham
  • Wednesday February 18, 2009
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Dodging the raindrops, Golden Gayt Golf kicked off its 2009 season earlier this month at the Presidio Golf Course and will offer a full slate of monthly events on public courses around the Bay Area through the rest of the year.

"We really lucked out because of a break in the weather," Golden Gayt President Paula Ponsetto said. "We've got about 10 events scheduled, generally on the first Saturday of every month, with a couple of Sundays thrown in."

As gloomy as the weather has been, of course, the economy has been gloomier. Ponsetto said the recession has hurt the sport, but noted that golf also provides a welcome distraction from bank foreclosures and dwindling 401ks.

"Golf takes your mind off everything," Ponsetto, who worked in investments for 23 years, said. "After 9/11, a couple of weeks had gone by and I had been glued like everyone else to CNN around the clock. Then I played in a golf date I had set up weeks before. I remember at the 13th hole looking at everyone else and saying to myself, 'Oh, God, I haven't thought about 9/11 since we've been playing.'"

Ponsetto said the recession has cut into the number of people playing golf and how often they can afford to play. "With the impact of the economy, people look at golf as kind of a luxury," she said. "It's going to be one of the first things you're going to cut back on if you've lost your job." But the declining economy has also has helped Golden Gayt with scheduling, she said. "We play all public courses. We're seeing a lot more flexibility on their prices."

Ponsetto said 16 golfers played in the Presidio event and usually the outings have about 25 to 30 golfers. Events usually cost around $75 for members, slightly more for non-members.

"It's a really good mix of both men and women," she said. "You don't have to be a really great golfer, although we do have a number of very good golfers."

Asked how long she has played golf, Ponsetto, 46, joked, "Way too long for how bad I am. I've been golfing since I was a teenager, but I didn't take it seriously until my mid-20s. My problem is I never practiced; I just go to play.

"One of the reasons I joined this group is it's a great way to meet other folks, both men and women. This group was started by men who met at the Gay Games who were all from the Bay Area. Over the years it morphed into a golfing group and they asked some women to join in. I would say the gender balance is close to 50-50, tilted a little more toward men," she said.

The group continues to participate in the Gay Games and plans to send a contingent to the 2010 event in Cologne.

"We form friendships," Ponsetto said. "A lot of us have flexible schedules and can play during the week, so we see each other more than just once a month. It's also a great way to know the people you're playing with. It's not like other sports where you don't have a chance to talk during the competition.

"Anyone who has played golf will tell you that you don't have time to worry about work or things you need to get done. You're too worried about getting that little white ball into the little hole. It's a good distraction."

The next Golden Gayt Golf event will be on March 7 at Poppy Ridge in Livermore. For information about future events, e-mail Terri Carboni at [email protected].

Gay Games news

Federation of Gay Games Co-President Brent Minor resigned from his FGG post last month to work on the 2010 Gay Games bid submitted by Washington, D.C. – a move that was expected after Minor's election last November at the same meeting in which D.C. was announced as a bidding finalist for Gay Games IX.

The FGG board said it has appointed Kurt Dahl of Chicago, who had been part of the host organization for the 2006 Chicago Gay Games and has been working on the FGG's host relations committee for Cologne, as acting co-president. Minor's position of officer of development for the FGG has not been filled, but John Skoubis has been hired as a professional director of development and communication.

The next round of bid documents from Washington, Miami, Cleveland, and Boston were originally scheduled to be submitted by March 1, but that deadline was extended.

In other Gay Games news, the Cleveland request to add rodeo as a sport in its bid was approved and the organizers said the bid has received a pledge of financial backing from the Akron convention bureau.