RayDuckler: There’s no place like home, especially on the road
Over in Hopkinton, at Kathleen McGuire’s home-turned-all-night-diner, the menu includes scrambled eggs, bagels and tuna pasta salad, all with a heaping side of hospitality.
She accepts no money in return, expecting instead a tip that has nothing to do with 20 percent.
It has to do with two strokes off her handicap. It has to do with a pair of golfers in town for the pro event.
“They’re helping me with my concentration,” said McGuire, a semiretired superior court judge. “They help me with my focus.”
Her focus is to lower her 27 handicap, and her two house guests form the perfect pair to get the job done. Living in what McGuire calls her in-law apartment, attached to her house, are Brittany Benvenuto and Isabelle Boineau. They’re competing in this weekend’s Symetra Tour event at Beaver Meadow Golf Course, trying to move up a notch, to the LPGA circuit.
Meanwhile, they’re traveling in Boineau’s 2005 red Mustang. They’re living out of a suitcase. They’re chasing a dream in places like Syracuse, N.Y., and Palm Harbor, Fla., and Richmond, Va.
And they’re eating and sleeping at houses belonging to people like McGuire, who has opened her home as a host family, and whose kindness will help these young players save money while working at a job that, at this level, pays very little.
But in the case of these two University of Arizona graduates, they don’t mind bunking at a stranger’s home.
In fact, they like it.
“I’m just so used to meeting people now and being able to talk to them and sharing my stories, hearing their stories,” Benvenuto said. “I love it. I really love it.”
“We have our own area here, but we still hang out,” Boineau said. “We have dinner together and breakfast, and go out on the porch, and they have a beer. When you’re at someone’s house and you can share stories, you feel like you’re home, almost, because you connect with the people.”
They sat with McGuire in the empty Beaver Meadow clubhouse after a practice round this week, showing their appreciation for what McGuire is doing. This is the fourth straight year she’s welcomed young golfers into her home.
“I really enjoy having the girls come,” McGuire said. “They tend to be very intelligent college graduates, and all the ones I’ve had, particularly these two, they’re very considerate guests. I’m kind of fascinated with it. They’re young, so they’re fun to have at the house. They’re wonderful, and they all have very interesting stories.”
McGuire remembers her days at Manchester Memorial, before girls played varsity sports. She loved hearing about Benvenuto, who played golf at her Pennsylvania high school, the lone girl on the team. She moved into the No. 1 slot and was named captain as a junior, replacing her brother, a senior at the time.
“You’d have to ask my brother, but I think he was okay with it,” Benvenuto said.
Boineau moved from France to the States five years ago to refine her golf game and attend college at the University of Arizona, where she befriended Benvenuto.
When asked how her English was at the time, Benvenuto jumped in with the speed of a tee shot, saying, “It was nonexistent. It was hard to understand her, but that’s just a testament to who she is. Look at her now.”
She’s a 24-year-old rookie on the tour. She finished second in an event this season and has earned $14,516 in prize money, 19th on this year’s money list with five tournaments left after this weekend. Benvenuto has played parts of three seasons, winning a total of $3,572.
The top 10 money winners move up to the LPGA tour. It is a hard road, indeed.
Benvenuto and Boineau packed their stuff into an Arizona storage area, tossed their suitcases and golf clubs into Boineau’s Mustang and are now traveling that hard road, each weekend through September.
As Benvenuto said, “You’re like a nomad. I don’t have a home. It’s difficult to live out of a suitcase and sleep in different beds every week.”
Then she continued: “But I know this is an opportunity I won’t really get once I’m older. I get to travel around and meet these people and see different things that I wouldn’t see if I didn’t play golf.”
Enter McGuire. When the two golfers returned to her house late from a Symetra-sponsored party one night, bringing two pro golfer friends with them, none had had dinner.
It was after 8 p.m.
“I asked if they were hungry, and they said, ‘Kind of,’ ” McGuire remembered.
Boineau recalled it this way: “I said, ‘Pleeeeease . . . we’re hungry.’ We acted like poor little girls.”
Soon, fresh tuna pasta salad was on the kitchen table.
The next night, the three went to see The Heat, the new Sandra Bullock movie.
Golf lessons have also been part of the week. McGuire, trying to incorporate the tunnel vision her boarders had tried to teach her, played nine holes a few days ago at Stonebridge Country Club in Goffstown.
She was asked what she scored.
“I’m not going to tell you that,” McGuire said. “Some things are top secret.”
All three laughed, then left for the movie.