The “Stuck at Home With” series profiles players, caddies and staff in the women’s game who are making the most of an unprecedented break in tour life due to the coronavirus pandemic. New stories will be posted every Tuesday and Thursday.
Angela Stanford was working out on her treadmill when she saw the news flash across the bottom of her TV screen: “Augusta National closing its doors.”
If the most famous golf course in the world is closing, she thought, mine are probably right behind it. She immediately put in a call to Mike Wright, director of golf at her home club, Shady Oaks Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, and asked if he could put her in touch with someone who could help build an at-home hitting bay.
When Stanford built the extension off her driveway in 2009, she thought she might one day use it for a practice area but never really wanted to go through with it.
“A home should be a place where you get away from your job,” she said.
The turf was in and the net was up by the end of March. One month later, she’s already looking forward to using the space during the offseason to keep sharp. Simply having an area to hit balls no matter what transpires has brought much-needed peace of mind during the coronavirus crisis.
“Those first couple of weeks I was losing my mind,” she said.
With no paychecks coming in anytime soon, Stanford thought she might cut down on the landscaping bill by getting to work in the flower beds. She weeded, sprayed and put down mulch over the weekend. The woman who ran her first marathon in Los Angeles in early March couldn’t believe how sore she felt in the aftermath.
“People do this all the time and I’m dying,” she said while on her way to Mira Vista Golf Club for a round of golf.
Quarantine life has given Stanford a small window into retirement, and the homebody has enjoyed the view. She had to learn how to grocery shop for weeks at a time, though gourmet cooking didn’t happen overnight.
“I’ve always believed that high-end cooking is like a hobby,” she said. “For now, there’s a lot of chicken on the grill. There’s a lot of pasta and my rice cooker.”
And while the toilet tissue has been hard to come by, she’s grateful that the shelves are still fully stocked with Diet Dr. Pepper.
Prior to the pandemic, Stanford wasn’t a binge-watcher. She mostly watched live sports and “Friends” reruns and felt like there was too much to do to spend time taking in entire seasons on the couch.
But that was then.
She burned through “Schitt’s Creek” on Netflix and has moved on to “Mad Men.” She’s mostly into lighter shows, noting that “Ozark” is as dark as she gets.
But the real must-see TV in Stanford-land is “The Last Dance,” ESPN’s Michael Jordan documentary.
“I’m in heaven,” she said of reliving her childhood.
A six-time winner on the LPGA, Stanford is grateful that the golf world came to a halt this late in her career. Like many veteran players, she thinks often of those on tour who are just getting started. She has played professional golf for 20 years, won a major and represented the U.S. in six Solheim Cups.
So much history brings added perspective.
Stanford thinks often of LPGA commissioner Mike Whan and his staff. She got mad when an ESPN writer left Whan’s name off a list of sports commissioners who were scheduled to meet with President Donald Trump. So mad that she quit watching ESPN during her morning workout, switching to “Friends” instead.
“It bothers me that Mike Whan doesn’t get the attention he deserves,” she said, noting that no commissioner has it tougher now.
She used to think that golf might be the easiest sport to get back, given the size of the playing field, the fact that they’re outdoors and naturally far apart.
But once she peeled back the layers and started thinking about 144 players and caddies traveling separately to an event, it didn’t seem as tidy as entire teams flying together on a corporate jet and then hunkering down in the same hotel.
If the LPGA starts back up in Arkansas in mid-June, Stanford’s opinion is that there won’t be spectators. She’s thought about driving to Arkansas from Texas and basically avoiding airplanes until the tour goes to Europe. Not because she’s scared to fly, but because it’s easier to control her schedule by car.
She worries about the size of the locker rooms and player dining. A neat freak in general, Stanford signs autographs with her own purple Sharpie in part because she’s a TCU grad, but mostly because she doesn’t want to touch someone else’s stuff.
That’s heightened even more now.
“Even getting bottled water on the course out of cooler,” she said. “People are touching them all day.”
Stanford thinks a lot about tour sponsors while she’s at home. She’s been around long enough to be profoundly grateful of the kind of partner that will stick it out during tough times. The same goes for the donors who back her scholarship program for students who have been impacted by cancer.
“I have tremendous respect for anyone that’s in a decision-making position right now,” she said.
The unexpected time alone at home has opened the door to new things, as much as it has deepened an appreciation for the old.
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