You don’t just wander up to Seminole Golf Club. In fact, if you aren’t a golfer and don’t have access to Google Maps you could live a couple of blocks from the club and not know it is there. That’s how the members want it: exclusive and understated.
So, imagine how the staff must have felt in early 1988 when a rusty RV pulled up at the gate and a bubbly LPGA Tour rookie tried to sweet-talk her way in.
“During my rookie season, Mr. Hogan knew (the tour) was playing in Fort Lauderdale,” Kris Tschetter said. “ ‘Why don’t you go over and play Seminole?’ he asked. ‘It’s a great course for practice. I’ll get you all set up.’ ”
“Mr. Hogan” was Ben Hogan, who once did his Masters preparation at Seminole. Tschetter and Hogan had become close while the former was a college All-American at Texas Christian University and Hogan, long retired from public life, spent his afternoons having lunch and hitting balls at Shady Oaks Golf Club in Fort Worth, Texas. Tschetter, whose infectious smile could melt the hardest of hearts, became so close to Hogan that the two practiced together almost every day. He became her teacher and mentor, a surrogate grandfather, and she became his reason to remain active in the game.
On this particular occasion, Hogan helped her by arranging time at one of America’s premier clubs.
“I don’t usually play other courses when I’m playing in a tournament,” Tschetter recalled, “but when I told my caddie (Gerry Summa) that we had the option of playing Seminole, he said, ‘Are you crazy? We’re playing.’ ”
The problem was the vehicle. Tschetter had purchased a well-worn RV to drive between domestic LPGA Tour events and to give Summa a place to sleep on the road. It was the only vehicle they had so they arrived at the Seminole gatehouse in a camper.
“We’re here to play,” Tschetter said.
The guard looked at her and said, “Uh huh.”
“No, we are.”
“And who would be the member sponsoring you today?” the guard asked.
The guard laughed out loud before Tschetter convinced him to at least call the clubhouse.
While on the phone the guard’s eyes widened. He said, “I’m so sorry, Ms. Tschetter. Welcome to Seminole. Just pull up front. They’ll take care of your, er, vehicle and get you set up with a locker.”
Kris didn’t see where the valets parked the RV. But when she picked it up, it was cleaner than when she’d dropped it off.