Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Who in the world is Christy Erb?

Isn’t it odd how often some of the most accomplished of people can be so unassuming compared to the more boring folks? Being a boring folk, I probably should quit elaborating on that before I even start to... Let me just say that there is a bit more to Christy Erb than meet the eye, and that is definitely a plus.

Having spent too much of my teenage years hanging around the golf course meant that I have long since been overexposed to colorful duffers whose mythical ‘shot of a life time he hit during the last round’ keeps growing (more than) a few yards longer every time he retells the story. I’ll just say that I am no longer easily impressed by story of questionable glories on the well manicured green grass. So, it is most refreshing to once in a while getting to listen to smiling golfing assassins like Christy Erb downplaying her latest conquest of the dimply little white ball with an annoying lack of pretentiousness. Heck! She didn’t even remember how memorable a particular professional victory I had witness was when I recalled the episode out loud during a conversation a little while ago (I was not pleased... After all, she took so long to win that thing that I was ready to just lay down and die from exhaustion after walking all the 5 extra play off holes after having done my own final round a few hours prior. The gal was in a 5 way play-off and beat off her last competition by holing out a 30 footer cross-downhill putt for an eagle on the par-5 5th hole to win the Players West Tour event in San Bernardino in 1994. I’ll never forget (nor forgive) it even if my legs ever quit grumbling to me about such abuse).

I guess it is understandable from her point of view... After all, Christy has been golfing competitively since age 9 and had a stellar junior and collegiate career with the UCLA Bruins. I suppose she had forgotten more golf victories than I can remember entering tournaments. We met golfing in California in the mid 90's and went our separate ways when I gave the little white ball the finger (well, it was a mutual gesture, or so I prefer to think) and headed back to college. We have caught up a few times since I moved to the Pacific Coast, however. She had retired from the LPGA Tour in 1999 and is now busy teaching at Bonita Golf Club southeast of San Diego city while also working as an AFAA (Aerobic & Fitness Association of America) certified personal trainer. In sort, the gal is on a crusade to turn the flappy duffers population of San Diego into a bunch of lean and mean acing machines no self-respecting golf ball would dare to misbehave against.

And she had even written a book!

If you want to know more about this industrious lass with a bagful of big sticks, you’ll have to go look her up at her website and blogs. In the meanwhile, though, here is a little interview she granted me not so long ago:

Smorg: You started playing golf when you were just 8 yrs old and had played competitively from that point on until your retirement from the LPGA Tour 10 yrs ago and got into teaching. Do you miss the competition? Or are you enjoying life more now that you don't have to deal with the traveling and the competitive pressure all the time?
I don't really miss the competition, but I do miss the craftsmanship, attention to detail, specificity and purposefulness of the game. I miss being out in nature and creating at a high level. Life is easier and less stressful without the constant competition and the need to always do better.

Smorg: Does having traveled all around the USA and to different countries during your career make you appreciate your hometown of San Diego more? Do you sometimes think back about the different places you've been when they get mentioned in the news?
Yes, my travels all over the country and world make me even more appreciative of my hometown of San Diego. I do think back on my travels sometimes, and they were some nice, memorable times. Every now and then while I'm watching the news, I will recognize freeway signs that they show back east or in the Midwest. I feel I'm connected to the country and am a part of it, having seen many nooks and crannies, and having met all sorts of different people.

Smorg: What was the hardest thing about life on the professional golf tours? And what did you enjoy the most about the experience?
The hardest part of competitive golf for me was consistency, and never knowing if I was good enough. So I suppose you could call that a lack of confidence. It was very hard for me with my fluctuating emotions to be robot-like as the Asian and European players are. I was too reactive to my emotions, when I needed to be tougher mentally and to be more stoic or unaffected.

What I liked best about my golf experience was the hope it gave me with a dream to shoot for. That defined my life, giving me structure and a purpose.

Smorg:Do you still keep in touch with the people you met at various places?
I keep in touch with only a couple of them at this point, 9 years later. They all hold a special place in my heart, I will remember all of them always. I was pretty lucky to be taken in by families across the country and treated like family, very special experiences.

Smorg: You are writing a book about your competitive golfing years now. Any sneak peek insight into the main theme of it? Will it be a compilation of lessons for other golfers? or will it be more of a reflection on what you had learned over those years?
The theme of the book will be to show people what competitive and professional golf are like. It will expose the things we go through out there, what I learned, what is not seen to the public, and what it is like to have grown up in that competitive world of golf.

Smorg: What is the difference between the average amateur golfers and the competitive amateur golfers and the professional tour player? Is there any specific quality, aside from having a good swing and short game, that can turn a good amateur into a competitive tour player?
The difference is about 25,000 hours of practice and 3 million golf balls struck.

Smorg: Ouch... You had also published a book earlier about your grandfather, A Lifetime of Contradictions. What compelled you to take on that endeavor? And why that title?
Because he had live and endured so long I felt he deserved to have a book written about him. I wanted to do it for myself to understand him better, and try to find out what makes him tick and do what he does. Perhaps that is why I chose that title, because he seemed like an oxymoron to me and I wanted to figure him out. I suppose it was to answer my own curiosities somewhat and to show the affect he had on me as well. I felt I needed to write it at the time, I felt it my duty to myself and the family.

Smorg: Did your perception of grandpa change much as a consequence of writing about his life? Did your perception of yourself change?
I see Grandpa more as a person now. It made me feel more alive and connected to life.

Smorg: Aside from turning duffers into ace golfers at Bonita Golf Course, you are also an AFAA certified personal fitness trainer. Do you do that as a separate parallel career or do you combine that with your coaching method (so not only are the duffers becoming better golfers, but they're also getting leaner, too?)?
Well the personal fitness training is a parallel career but I apply it to my golf students as well. I was spending a lot of my free time at the gym the last 5 years and had begun making workout charts for my golf students, so I figured it would be a good fit all the way around.

Smorg: This one is for those who wish they could quite chasing after that dimpled little white ball.... What's the point of golfing?
There is no point to golfing other than to enjoy it and challenge yourself - as the point of anything is what you make of it.

Christy Erb’s official website, her book ‘A Lifetime of Contradictions’, Golf Instruction Blog, Babbling Brook of Serenity Blog


Geisslein said...

A short hello from hot hot hot (and humid) germany. Trying to do my work here in the office, but bäääh,but I don´t feel like it, I really would love to sit at a beach now, the feet in the water,sunglases on my nose and just spend some time with doing NOTHING! that would be a great thing now...but in 3 weeks I will have a short trip to Mallorca...looking forward to this!Hope your day is a good day ;o)

Smorg said...

Hallo Geisslein!
I don't do well in hot and humid weather either. We've been lucky to have cooler than normal weather here for the last week or so. Hopefully the weather there will cool up a bit for you soon! :o)

And I'm jealous already of your upcoming trip to Mallorca! Looking forward to hearing all about it when you get back. :o) You sure have earned a nice summer vacation!

Greetings from cloudy California and hope your weekend has arrived with a lot of cool breeze in the air. :o) Thanks for stopping by!

Georg said...

Hallo Smorgy,

There seems to be one thing Golf and Paragling have in common. The professionals are young and the average player is at least ten years older.

Before reading Newsweek with its continuous publicity showing golfers sporting high class watches, I thought Golf is an activity for the elderly after having a heart attack.

Well, well.

I suppose Golf is expensive because of the entry fee, I mean those clean shaved meadows that ask for continuous irrigation and mowing must cost a pretty penny. And then there is the club house with its starched waiters.

Here in Cantal we have at least two Golf courses, good looking from the outside.


Smorg said...

Hallo Georgy,
Ah, I wouldn't recommend golf to anyone recovering from a heart attack, really. It is a devilishly frustrating game! ;o)

You're right about it being expensive indeed. I guess I didn't quite grasp how expensive it is until I quit playing... Even the public courses here cost quite a bit to play now (except for the short and ill-maintained par-3s ones).

I guess it doesn't help that it is also a highly addictive sport. I don't see tennis players go around making a swing outside of the court... with golfers, though, they're always air practicing their stroke... everywhere! ;o)

Thanks a bunch for stopping by. Hope summer is going well your way!