A day on the golf course with the defending U.S. Open champ

06/16/2013 3:00 PM |

COURTESY PHOTO | Jay Dempsey and his wife, Jean, far right, with the defending United States Women’s Open champion, Na Yeon Choi.

So often in life, when you’re looking for something, you might find that it’s right under your nose. From June 24 through June 30, the best women golfers on the planet will be right under our noses. I cannot encourage you enough to attend the United States Open Women’s Golf Championship, which will be played at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton. Not only will you see wonderful, textbook-perfect golf swings, but you will also get to waltz around a golf course that is normally seen only by the rich and famous.

People have asked me which days are the best to go: practice round days or days of the actual competition. Both options will provide you with a great opportunity to see the best women golfers in the world up close and personal. And, yes, the women are extremely accessible, friendly and available for autographs, especially during the practice rounds. Treat yourself, your family, your spouse, to a day or two watching a world-class sporting event right in your own backyard. And you’ll be home in time for dinner.

During my time as your golf writer, I have had the good fortune to interview and speak with some of the top golf personalities in the business and feel very fortunate and blessed to have been given this opportunity. Last month I had the chance to walk nine holes and then sit down with last year’s United States Women’s Open champion, Na Yeon Choi.

The time I spent with “NYC,” as she asked me to call her, is at the top of my list as a golf writer.

On May 19 there was an event held at Sebonack where members of the media could walk nine holes with Na Yeon Choi. I asked my better half, Jean, if she would like to go along with me. “Do you think I’ll be allowed?” she asked. I countered, “What’s the worst that can happen?” That is my usual response to most things these days now that I’m in my ho-hum senior years.

So, with a light rain falling, we left for Sebonack, rain gear in tow.

Having been to Sebonack last fall to cover an international amateur event, I knew the lay of the land. We pulled into an almost-empty parking lot and were greeted by Southold resident and Newsday photographer Randee Daddona, who parked right next to us. Always nice to see a friendly face to start off the day.

Jean and I settled comfortably on the deck of the clubhouse overlooking Peconic Bay and were tended to by the friendly Sebonack waitstaff. Not wanting to push our luck, we ordered only coffee. An important lesson I’ve learned when out of your element: Look like you belong. I guess we passed the test.

After finishing our coffee and enjoying the surroundings, we were alerted to the arrival of the lady of the day, NY Choi. NY, along with her manager and caddy, drove their cart up to the first tee. Jean and I hustled down to the tee to find ourselves, along with Randee and one other photographer, the only ones in attendance. Greg Morrison, NY’s manager, introduced himself. After NY hit two balls, she walked over to us. “NY, this is Mr. and Mrs. Dempsey,” Greg said. “Mr. Dempsey writes a golf column for a local newspaper.”

Offering her hand, NY said: “It’s nice to meet you both. Thank you for coming.”

Now, this is really cute. I told Greg not to worry about us since they had a cart and we were walking. I told him we would catch up. “No, we’ll walk with you,” Greg said. “NY feels bad that you’re walking, so she wants to walk with you.”

So walk and talk we did. Jean and I with our intimate little group, walking by ourselves with the defending United States Women’s Open champion.

NY took various shots from different locations on the course and would scribble down notes.

Yes, she was working and preparing to defend her title, but in between shots we talked with her about all different things. She was delightful.

After our round we posed for a photo with NY that will be a prized possession in the Dempsey household. Can you guess who Mrs. D. and I will be routing for at Sebonack this month?