|"Secrets of a Tee Time Girl" recalls humorous, shocking and sometimes raunchy tales from the golf course. (Courtesy of teetimegirl.com)|
Nicole Kallis, a beverage cart girl at Mt. Woodson Golf Club in San Diego, careens around the corner on a rickety old bridge leading up to the third tee box. The aged, warped planks that serve as the only separation between Kallis and the 60 to 80-foot drop below rattle and bounce beneath the weight of the cart. She doesn't seem to mind.
Kallis, author of the self-published, soon-to-be-released Secrets of a Tee Time Girl, perhaps the first golf book written from a beverage cart girl's perspective, has seen and experienced things both on and off the course much more harrowing -- and exciting -- than a questionable bridge.
A lighthearted assortment of Kallis' experiences, opinions and working knowledge of the game of golf -- a sort of do-it-yourself variety hour -- the book details the highlights and lowlights of working as a beverage cart girl. Kallis has never written -- much less published -- a book before, but already an accomplished film editor and musician, she decided to give it a whirl.
"I was so flooded with all of the experiences and all of the great times and I saw a story I didn't think had ever been told," she says. "I've seen a lot of people write about the cart girl. I've never seen a cart girl write something. Just make sure you have a couple of shots of tequila or a Bloody Mary before you start reading. I don't claim to be a writer. I'm still a beverage cart girl."
Indeed, Nicole Kallis, the author, might just be a beverage cart girl, but Nicole Kallis, the person, is much more.
On Father's Day of 2001, Kallis was peddling furiously in Marina del Rey, Calif. to get to her truck. She had just heard that her mother had fallen off her bike. Entranced in thought and focused on getting to her mother, Kallis didn't see the car pulling out of the liquor store parking lot in front of her.
"The force of a moving vehicle hitting you is tremendous," she says. "I have no idea how to describe that feeling. It's a big machine and I could feel its power."
The impact sent her flying from her bike, crashing the right side of her body into the ground. Trying to break her fall, she extended her hand first, which hit beneath her momentum, buckling her wrist and elbow, sending her shoulder into the ground. Then, guided by her force, her head finally plowed into the pavement, causing a mild concussion. Still concentrating on her mother and in what she can only explain as a state of shock, Kallis immediately bounced back up, grabbed her bike and carried it to her truck, ignoring the driver, who, Kallis says in retrospect, "seemed trashed."
"I drove to my mom," she recalls, "and when I got there, I got out of the car and started throwing up. And then I think my body knew I was in trouble."
Her dad drove both her and her mom to the hospital. Doctors diagnosed Kallis with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome as the result of a pinched thoracic nerve, which most likely occurred when Kallis' entire right arm buckled under the force of her body's momentum. She spent the next three months recovering.
During the time of the accident, Kallis was working as a film editor. Successful in her profession, Kallis proudly states that her credits include Frasier, pretty much everything that's aired on E! Entertainment Television, including Howard Stern with the Barbie twins, Wild On and her favorite, an E! True Hollywood Story on JFK Jr., in addition to a film called Road Dogz, which is "sort of like Boyz in the Hood, Latino syle," she says. Before that, Kallis had graduated from the Dick Grove School of Music with a degree as a recording engineer and worked at a studio, during which she wrote, recorded and sang lead and backup vocals for "Spooney Tomato," a bluesy tune that actually aired on two different shows.
As she recovered, for the first time since high school, Kallis didn't work. This newfound free time spawned reflection, and Kallis' outlook on life drastically altered.
"My revelation was that I could no longer work full-time and be a quality mom," she says. "That was just way, way more important. I had a daughter to be a mother to, not to have someone else raise her. I didn't know what I was missing."
So, in 2001, she put her full-time career on hold and moved down to San Diego to become a full-time mom, picking up and dropping off her 9-year-old daughter from school, cooking dinner for her and tucking her in at night. Just after the move, Kallis began working as a cart girl at Mt. Woodson, and the rest -- as the cliche goes -- is history.
But Secrets of a Tee Time Girl tells of none of this.
Kallis didn't want to get into her personal life, she says. It is Kallis stripped down to being just a cart girl: Kallis Light. The book contains 18 short chapters that regale readers with everything from a collection of do's and don'ts with cart girls to a history of the game. Lacking much semblance of a plot, the book can be read in bits and pieces, although given the ease with which it is written, the 147 pages can be read in its entirety in the time it takes to play about six or seven holes.
Throughout the book, the "Tee Time Girl," pops up in sections called "Tee Time Girl Reviews." The character, which is an allusion to Carol Wayne's "Tea Time Movie Reviews with Art Fern" on Johnny Carson, recalls humorous, shocking and sometimes raunchy tales of Kallis' most intriguing experiences as a cart girl, from a tame tale of 18 holes with a "walking yeast infection" to some solid girl-on-girl entertainment.
Secrets of a Tee Time Girl oozes with voice and personality. Readers can easily warm to Kallis' soft, friendly, conversational style of writing and simple language even from the first line of the preface: "We are going to do this preface bit really short and sweet. If you're like me and tend to skip the preface part, don't. I promise, this is important to the book and really short!"
The second half of this opening paragraph foreshadows the engaging nature of Kallis' book. She frequently moves from first person into second in a successful, flirtatious attempt to make the reader truly feel as if she is talking directly to him. She makes him feel individual, special, as good cart girls have the unique, albeit heart-breaking, ability to do.
Kallis also doesn't attempt to hide her lack of experience behind big words and gratuitously flowery writing. The book never takes itself too seriously, which exudes the writer's internalized sense of security. She is who she is, and her writing displays that. To read Kallis' book is to know her.
In addition, she employs ample cleverness that is accented by a quick, acerbic wit and a few satisfying regressions into tongue-in-cheek innuendo, which comes out, among other times, when she's talking about the oversized drivers in the pro shop: "In my opinion, of course, the 300 series is big enough, but then I prefer a smaller head size." This occasional employment of quick wit acts as a representative "callin'-you-out" rebuttal to every chauvinistic good old boy that has ever spewed a lewd comment to the beverage cart girl. (Guilty). It provides a fine balance with the fun-loving, flirtatious mood prevalent in most of the chapters.
However, the main problem experienced golfers may have with the book comes with Kallis' admitted working knowledge with the game, which is exemplified by her reference to Steve Ballesteros. She provides a Cliffs notes version of the history of golf, in addition to a chapter on etiquette and even a glossary of terms. Experienced golfers' eyes may momentarily glaze over when Kallis lapses into these simple explanations of what is generally common knowledge.
But maybe not. Her explanations do have the possibility of drawing in even the most experienced players, given that few have ever seen this common knowledge through the eyes of a cart girl. In addition, beginning golfers will learn easily through Kallis' simple language and explanation.
All in all, the book is worth a read. Her simple language flows well and the lighthearted, inclusive style will inevitably entertain. Secrets of a Tee Time Girl, which may include an inconsequential error here and there, will undoubtedly cure those snowman blues.
Now, with Secrets of a Tee Time Girl in the process of being printed, the modern-day Renaissance woman continues on that rickety old bridge, enjoying her time as a mother, working part-time as a beverage cart girl at Mt. Woodson and part-time editing film, which recently earned her an Emmy nomination for Best Documentary as the result of her work on a piece called, Stories of the Sharp Experience. When not fulfilling her obligations as part-time cart girl, part-time film editor and full-time mother, in her nearly non-existent spare time, she tools with the guitar and continues to sing and write music.
As for the accident, she'll feel a slight shot of pain to her right hand every once in a while.
And although Secrets of a Tee Time Girl will be out - at worst - within the next few days and will be available from amazon.com two weeks after that, this might not be the last we hear of the "Tee Time Girl."
"(When writing a book), you think of all the things you could say," she says. "You don't want to say too much, you don't want to say too little. I know I've already got book two, book three."
For more information, check out www.teetimegirl.com.
November 8, 2004
We all love golf course rankings, but there's quite a bias involved, huh? Host a major championship and you're basically guaranteed a spot on the list. What about the average duffer who's more impressed with the beer list than the slope/rating - or prefers friendliness over the fine, imported lotion in the locker room? Where's our list, hackers? Answer: Right here.
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