Golf Around the World

150 rounds.
10 countries.
1 couple.

 

I met Lisa at the Women’s Golf Day event when a conversation struck about where she learned to play golf since I was just getting into the game.

“Thailand.”

No big deal, right? Lisa and Gary Sikes have spent their lives traveling all over the world for his business, where they also got the chance to play golf in every country they went to. For Lisa, it started in Thailand with some girlfriends who loved the game just as much as her husband.

“Whenever we take trips together, usually he’ll go play a round and I’ll go tour something,” Lisa told me. “But I really wanted to find something to spend more time with him so I learned how to play.”

Gary worked in the shoemaking industry including Rebok and Wolverine, which allowed him to live overseas for 20 years in China, Vietnam, Moscow, England, Australia, Mexico, Taiwan, the Dominican Republic, and Thailand. Golf was just a part of his life when living abroad, and that became something he got to share with his wife once she learned to play.

“We can talk about things other than our kids, which gets hard once you get older,” said Lisa. “We can talk about golf now.”

Playing in another country is one story – learning how to play is a different one. There are learning barriers that follow picking up any sport overseas, and golf is no different. When talking with Lisa, some of the difficulties she faced were not limited to just language and jargon. Simple things like using meters instead of yards posed an initial struggle, but more challenges presented themselves the longer she played.

“In Asia, it’s a woman living in a man’s world,” Lisa said. “Men don’t want you to play, but it’s sort of hush-hush and nobody talks about it. It took a lot of patience to learn over there.”

Learning to play overseas didn’t give her much to compare playing golf in the United States since she hadn’t gotten the chance to do so yet. However, from pure observation, she could tell that golf had taken on the pompous reputation the sport has to an extreme while she was abroad.

“There’s a luxury aspect there,” Lisa said. “You go in, they shine your shoes, give you neck and foot massages. It’s a very different experience knowing what golf is like over here.”

Getting back to the states, both Lisa and Gary continue to play at their home course in Hot Springs Village at least two to three times a week because of all that the game has to offer.

“Golf is just a great game for people, for life,” said Lisa. “It keeps you active, keeps you moving and keeps your brain going. It’s also just a great way for you to spend time with the people you love. There’s something special about that.”