All's fair in love and golf

By Stina Sternberg Illustrations by John Ritter
March 16, 2008

Q: My boyfriend wants golf balls for his birthday. Honestly, can I buy golf balls as a gift? Seems tacky.

A: You're obviously not a golfer. To most people who play this game, two dozen high-end golf balls are as exciting a gift as any watch, MP3 player or cashmere sweater. Free golf balls -- especially the kind tour players use -- are like free money. They make you feel extravagant, hip and slightly frivolous.

However, if you still think golf balls are a tacky gift (even though premium brands sell for more than $50 a dozen), you can always go the extra step and get your guy some personalized golf balls. Most manufacturers offer this service at an extra $6 to $10 per dozen, and it takes a few weeks for delivery. But don't do anything cute. Stick to his initials or first name; if you have "Smoochie" or "Lovebug" stamped on the balls, he'll never use them. Trust me.

Q: I'm a widower, and there's a divorced woman at my club who I'd like to date, but her ex-husband's friends are pretty prominent members of the club. Am I jeopardizing my club status if we go out?

A: Yes, especially if the ex is a member at the same club. Country clubs are like high schools when it comes to gossip and cliques. Tread lightly, or you might find yourself an outcast. Ask this woman to play golf a couple of times -- which can be construed as completely innocent. Try to get a sense of whether she's interested in you. If you think she might be, offer to buy her a drink after a round. If you keep it casual, rather than formally asking her out, and your relationship progresses naturally, it won't look as scandalous to the club's peering eyes.

Q: My club hired a pro who's a chauvinist -- he doesn't like to teach women, and he gives us all the same condescending instruction. What should we do?

A: This is one fight worth picking. I know this type -- the guy who probably thinks women don't belong on the course. You and your girlfriends have to band together and campaign to get him out (or to get your club to hire a second pro). There's power in numbers. Women represent more than 25 percent of the membership at clubs today, and club boards are wise enough to know not to upset them.

To submit comments or questions, e-mail Stina at