Saying goodbye to 2017, my "spaghetti year" in golf

Of the 17 rounds I played in 2017, the two at Streamsong Resort were the absolute best.

Of the 17 rounds I played in 2017, the two at Streamsong Resort were the absolute best.

Looking back on my 2017, I now realize that the year was made up of a series of abrupt left turns. I had a lot of ideas about how the year would go, in terms of writing about golf (and my general role in golf), but how it actually went exceeded every one of those expectations. I left no door unopened, and because of that, I will always affectionately remember 2017 as my “spaghetti year.” It was the year I threw a whole bunch of ideas against the wall to see what would stick.

This space stuck, and I’m very thankful for that. It was a project that took six months to take form. Sending the initial feeler to a graphic designer with only a blog name and a vague concept was very unsettling. But my designer turned out to be a complete #girlboss, and she created exactly what I wanted before I even realized I wanted it.

Making the initial phone calls to fill the space with content before my July debut was even more unsettling. I’ve always been part of established publications – from a 100-year-old college newspaper to a 40-year-old national golf magazine. It’s easy to forget how many doors a name will open. I was afraid no one would remember who I was (it had been almost two years) if I didn’t open with Golfweek, or worse, would question the worth of what I was trying to do. I willed myself through a lot of that initial contact (thank you if you were on the other end of one of those first phone calls or emails), and it got easier. I remain amazed at the golf community’s general open-mindedness toward new concepts.

Pretty soon, my phone started ringing. That was something I really didn’t see coming. When I got my name back out there, I realized there was a place for me in other publications, too. I’m a proud contributor to Amateurgolf.com, Morning Read and Where to Golf Next. I got to three tournaments in December because of those contributing gigs, and I hope there will be a lot more in 2018.

If you're not following  @beyondthesundaydriver  on Instagram, then you're missing the photographic record of my adventures in golf.

If you're not following @beyondthesundaydriver on Instagram, then you're missing the photographic record of my adventures in golf.

When Beyond the Sunday Driver was still just a little pipe dream in the back of my head, I thought I might have a future as a rules official. That was an idea inspired by meeting several members of the USGA Women’s Committee and some really bright college rules officials. This time last year, I was pouring through the Rules of Golf, trying to memorize every definition, drop procedure and penalty. The first thing I did in 2017 was attend the USGA’s Rules of Golf Workshop, which fried my brain but was totally interesting. I feel like I need to go to about 17 more before I have an effective grasp of the rules (and I’m sitting out a year until the new changes come on line in 2019). I was happy to get a call from an old friend shortly after the workshop inviting me to help officiate an NCAA Division II women’s regional in Oklahoma. I learned a ton in those four days.

With writing filling up a bigger chunk of my time in the second half of the year, rules took a back seat. My Rules of Golf immersion did pay off in spades, however, when I began my first season coaching high school golf (it’s amazing the rules questions that come up in high school). I had completely forgotten what that experience was like (read some of that here, including the nationwide trend that aggravates me), but it was some of the most fun I had on the golf course this year. I learned that I can’t build a swing from the ground up, but that there’s a lot more to it than that. To the coaches I’ve been interviewing all these years – your job is hard, and I have a new appreciation for that.

This was also supposed to be the year I played all the golf. At one point (probably around Jan. 5), I legitimately pictured my rounds played entering triple digits. That noodle fell off the wall pretty quickly, though, and I’ll close out 2017 with 17 rounds. What symmetry.

I did enter my first state amateur as a Florida resident, and truly the third-best day of the year (I will explain that ranking) was when I shot an opening 79 and toasted it with a bottle of Saki and some old friends. Potentially it was the Saki that contributed to a follow-up 91 the next day, but more likely it was that my game needs more fine-tuning.

This tournament was a lesson in acknowledging my place in competitive golf, but I refuse to give up the chase for a USGA championship start. I came up short in my latest qualifying attempt for the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur in August, but I will press on.

Life-wise, 2017 was the year I changed my surname (though not my byline) from Williams to Guthrie. That said, the day my husband Cameron proposed (May 5) and the day we cut work to get married (Oct. 27) were the interchangeable first- and second-best days of the year. Cameron is a saint for many reasons, not the least of which is his support of my say-yes-and-try-everything year.

I also turned 30 this year, which is one reason I’ll probably never have another year like 2017 – where everything is new and worth trying. I’m not getting any younger! I’m happy that nearly 5,000 of you made your way to this blog in the past six months, and I hope I have compelled you to keep coming back. Cheers to 2018.