Someone asked defending U.S. Women’s Open champ Ariya Jutanugarn about the challenge of playing a major golf tournament at the Country Club of Charleston during this week’s furnace forecast.
“I'm Thai,” she said, “so it doesn't really affect me.”
I’ve lived in the hot and humid Lowcountry long enough to have survived Hurricane Hugo, floods, drought and several years of Mount Pleasant suffering with just one Chick-fil-A. There is no getting around the fact that this isn’t Chamber of Commerce sports-watching weather.
But Jutanugarn (pronounced ice-water-veins) is right. It’s not the heat, it’s the timidity.
We can do this.
We can show the sports world that Charleston can provide avid support for a major event even if it’s so hot that I saw a cat chasing a squirrel on the edge of the Country Club of Charleston property Wednesday and they were both walking.
The layout alongside Charleston Harbor is going to look ridiculously good on TV from Thursday to Sunday, which means more people moving in from Ashtabula and Schenectady. But what an opportunity.
Rarely can you watch the best athletes in a sport popular worldwide while enjoying fried chicken waffle cones without having to leave Charleston.
All it takes is a little practice, proper equipment and a game plan:
Friday afternoon: Go to-and-from your mailbox (but stay hydrated).
Friday evening: Park in the far corner of the lot at Harris Teeter or Publix, just for the extra exercise. And don’t use a cart after stocking up on energy-sustaining provisions.
Saturday: You’re ready for a U.S. Women’s Open weekend.
This is the week to try that new deodorant upgrade you’ve been considering.
What a treat: 156 players from 24 countries and 23 states. The field includes 55-year-old Laura Davies, winner of four majors, and 14-year-old Alexa Pano of Lake Worth, Fla.
But the U.S. Women’s Open is so much more than golf. It’s ice cream, too.
The key for patrons this week is pacing, mixing in tolerable slices of great golf viewing with trips to the Ben & Jerry’s stand.
Of course, an old oak tree can be your best friend on a sweltering day.
When that’s not enough, seek shelter in the mammoth Merchandise Tent. That’s where singer Darius Rucker, a U.S. Women’s Open honorary chairperson, bought lots of stuff (and kept cool) on Monday.
So many souvenir choices, ranging from Grit & Grace jewelry to oversized golf balls ($12.99) to the official U.S. Women’s Open teddy bear (a steal at $25.99).
Popular LPGA Tour pro Megan Khang was in the Merchandise Tent signing autographs Wednesday.
The folks at the Country Club of Charleston, with aid from the U.S. Golf Association, have done a tremendous job — better even than high expectations — in preparing the golf course.
The USGA is great at honoring LPGA pioneers with posters dating to Patty Berg’s victory at the first U.S. Women’s Open.
After soaking up some more golf past and present, you can swing in to the very air-conditioned Lexus Performance Experience tent to try your hand at putting, among other things.
Did you know this U.S. Women’s Open features 12 past champions?
There are also all three players who were on the medal stand at the 2016 Olympics: Inbee Park of Korea (gold), Lydia Ko of New Zealand (silver) and Shanshan Feng of China (bronze).
After following those players around for a few holes, pop into the Purple Apron Pantry for some fruit (or a fried chicken waffle cone).
This whole thing could come down to 2019 leading money winners Jin Young Ko and Minjee Lee. Maybe the Korda sisters — Nelly and Jessica — in a playoff.
By the way, it’s hard to beat LPGA Tour players for fan friendliness. Morgan Pressel, a veteran LPGA Tour star from Boca Raton, Fla., hung out with fans and answered questions from kids near the clubhouse.
Later, she talked about the difference between moonlighting as a TV analyst this month at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open in Southern Pines, N.C., and grinding it out in hot weather.
“It was really hot (at Southern Pines), as well,” Pressel said. “But it was cool in the TV booth.”
It’s also chilly in the Wappoo Creek Skybox, at $500 for a Sunday ticket. Available to all ticket holders: Ah, those sweet picnic tables in the shade between the 12th hole and 18th hole fairways.
“So it might affect the golf course because it might get dry,” Jutanugarn said, “but the good thing is we're going to hit longer.”
That’s the spirit!
You, too, can embrace adversity for fun and profit. There are people walking around holding umbrellas for the golfers. Maybe you can get hired to hold umbrellas for the people holding umbrellas.
Of course, I would never advocate smuggling contraband Gatorade powder into a major golf tournament.
But if you do, I prefer lime.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff