It's hard to believe when you meet her today, but North Oaks member Annie Ballantine used to hate golf. That's right, hated it. In fact, Annie and Nick Jellum only joined a golf club initially because it was more cost-effective than paying for two rounds of golf only to have Annie quit after two holes.
"I hated golf," she says, laughing. "It was torture."
But Annie wanted golf to be something she and Nick could do together, and it didn't take long for one good shot to spark motivation to make it two good shots — and so on and so on. Before she knew it, Annie loved playing golf.
"Now I'm obsessed with it," she says. "I love that it's something I can do with other people or by myself. It's really relaxing. I love being out in the quiet, in nature, away from TVs and cell phones. I feel like it's something I can do for the rest of my life."
Regulars on the Course
Now, Nick and Annie take full advantage of their North Oaks Golf Club membership. On average, they play the course 2-3 times per week.
Annie plays in the 9-hole women's league on Tuesdays, they play nine holes together after work typically one night a week and enjoy a full 18-hole round on the weekends — sometimes twice. Nick frequently travels for work, so his unpredictable schedule keeps him from joining a regular league. But this summer, he plans to participate in the Acorn Cup, The Professionals Cup, and the member-guest event.
"One of the best things the club does is the women's clinic on Thursday nights," she says. "You can enjoy a cocktail and get to know one another, but you also learn two little tips that you work on that night. It's not overwhelming. It's more about socializing and meeting people. It helped me feel comfortable joining the 9-hole league."
Annie says she was slow to embrace the game because the first club they joined didn't exactly embrace her. "I was really worried about joining their 9-hole league," Annie says. "All the women had been members for 20 plus years. New members were just not welcome."
That all changed when Nick and Annie moved into the area in December 2016 and joined North Oaks in time for the golf season.
"North Oaks was in a whole other league from our last golf club," Nick says. "I was worried it could be stuffy and intimidating, but it has been anything but. It feels so comfortable and unassuming — very inclusive and welcoming."
Now, the two are huge advocates of joining a private golf club.
"Joining a private golf club is a great opportunity for being more active and meeting friends you otherwise wouldn't have met," she says. “You can't be in the golf club and be in a bad mood. Everyone is just so happy and cheerful.”
Favorite/Most Challenging Hole
After several years playing the same golf course multiple times per week, it's easy to understand how players get to know the intricacies of each hole.
One may stand out as a favorite simply due to its beauty. For Annie, that's hole No. 4. "It's challenging but fun," she says. "I normally play that hole well. I really like any par 3."
Nick's favorites are hole No. 5 because it's challenging yet beautiful and hole No. 10 because it plays downhill with a stunning view of Pleasant Lake. "Plus with a nice wind out of the south, I've come close to driving the green," he says.
Then, there are the holes that haunt you, the ones you struggle to master no matter how much you practice. That's hole No. 7 for Annie. "I'm going to conquer it this year," she says. "It's hard. It's a very long hole. The tee box is at an odd angle and you're hitting over a pond. I can never get myself lined up quite right."
Until recently, that was hole No. 18 for Nick. "Hole No. 18 has been my barometer to measure my comfort with the course," he says. "The whole first season I was worried that I would hit an errant approach shot into someone's egg salad on the patio. I am more comfortable this year and had my first eagle putt on Father's Day!"