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    Marty Boyer practices putting at Wildhorse in Davis. She's played at resorts such as Pinehurst, Harbour Town and Bay Hill by herself.

  • Marty Boyer

The all-female group trip to a dream course is rare, so Marty Boyer doesn't mind taking the solo route

Published: Wednesday, Apr. 17, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Apr. 17, 2013 - 8:12 am

Marty Boyer got "the call" three years ago.

It came from a member of the ultra- exclusive Sand Hills Golf Club in the middle-of-nowhere Nebraska. In response to her letter seeking an invitation, the man was asking if she would like to play.

Boyer was on a plane from Sacramento the following week, drove the final 361 miles to Mullen and played the next day. Sand Hills has 150 members scattered all over the world. Guests are allowed one visit.

Passionate golfers don't hesitate when such an opportunity arises. There is no question Boyer, 63, is a golf nut. A divorcee, she lives, breathes and talks golf. She posted 82 rounds at 36 courses last year. She's a solid player – a 14 handicap in the summer, a 17 in the winter. She knows etiquette and plays quickly.

But she has a problem: She loves to travel to play – "I make it my mission to visit another of my dream destinations every year," she said – and women don't travel for golf as readily as men. She's been to resorts such as Pinehurst, Harbour Town and Bay Hill, as well as Palm Springs, Arizona and Hawaii, by herself.

A recent Bee story about 12 men on a "buddy trip" to Bandon Dunes in Oregon left Boyer excited and bummed. She made the pilgrimage to Bandon – alone – two years ago.

"I would much rather share these experiences with someone, but I'm not going to miss them," said Boyer, who lives and works in midtown. She has a dozen local playing partners, male and female, but none who fit the travel bill.

Even though women make up an estimated 23 percent of golfers in America, the group-oriented golf trip remains almost exclusively male. Resorts are reluctant to share gender specifics, but the number of women visiting without a man is minuscule.

A story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last year about a 10-woman group from New York at the American Club, home of Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis., cited a caddie as saying he'd seen no more than three women-only groups in 11 years.

Why do men get to have all the fun? Some theories gleaned from discussions with female players:

• Women raising a family have 15 to 20 prime years during which traveling for a week of golf is not an option. During the same period, men find a way to get away.

Caroline O'Brien, executive director of the Pacific Women's Golf Association, is 49 with a daughter about to get her driver's license.

"Happy days," said O'Brien, who is fulfilling a long-held dream of taking a group of 16 women to Ireland in September.

• Women aren't as passionate about golf.

"I know plenty of women who are as obsessed as any man," O'Brien said.

• Resorts aren't as accommodating toward women.

That would be shocking in this day and economy.

• Women don't think they play well enough.

Playing ability, or lack thereof, doesn't hold men back.

Stephanie Trenck took up golf almost 30 years ago at age 40. She joined Campus Commons with the idea of "meeting some nice men." She found something better – golf buddies.

Soon after, her foursome took a weeklong golf trip to Hawaii. They had such a ball, they expanded the trip to two weeks and made it annual for 15 years. They rotated who did the planning – Robert Trent Jones Trail in Alabama was among their favorite destinations.

While men salivate at the idea of playing 36 holes a day, Trenck's group alternated a day of golf with one of sightseeing, which is what O'Brien's group is planning.

Trenck, now a member of three clubs and PWGA, has some advice for Boyer.

"Join a club. Get involved. Just get out and meet and greet. You'll find what you're looking for," she said.

Boyer joined the golf club at Chargin's Bar & Grill in east Sacramento with that goal in mind but has yet to participate in any outings.

"I have real hopes that I will meet a really passionate person willing to pick up their sticks, get on a plane and go someplace and play," she said.

At this point, finding a group of women who appreciate a world-class course, play from the same tees and share a golfing spirit is something Boyer just dreams about.

Call The Bee's Steve Pajak, (916) 326-5526.

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