A/N: This story is based on a dream I couldn't get out of my head, a lifetime of living with a dad that LOVES golf and a stunned summer of being the ladies locker room attendant at a country club. (Who knew there was still a place where women were a second class citizen in 2010.) It's an interesting game but can be slow moving...which I intend to fix with the parade of pictures and angst you've come to love from me. I'm enjoying writing the progression of these relationships as they unfold on the course. Plus this time period is filled with interesting socio-economic as well as race issues for me to play with.
Once we start getting into the golf rounds, I'll be giving you a list of terms as they come up, but don't worry, I'm not getting too bogged down in it as all of my golf knowledge comes from my my dad, the golf god for this story. Big props to Pops!
This story is pre-planned as 6 chapterand will hopefully be updated every Wednesday.
Thanks for the love and reading this long note...and now on to golf!
As Isabella Swan looked out the window of the train she'd spent the last three days on, the extraordinary series of events that led to her travelling east to be the first woman to compete in the U.S. Open had not escaped her.
Bella had been seven the first time she picked up a club. Her father, instead of being mad as some men may have been, took his daughter out in the backyard and showed her how to swing it properly. Against his wife's wishes, Chief Swan had a set of clubs made for her and brought his daughter out for every mixed pair event or anytime he played with someone important who wanted their wife to play as well.
Over the next thirteen years, Bella grew to become an exceptional beauty and a talented player with a poise and patience beyond her years. Playing with her father's old wooden clubs after he upgraded to the new metal shafted clubs, she continued to grow as a player.
At 20 years old, many of the girls Isabella went to school with were married now, a few of them with children. It seemed that Bella's penchant for the links had made some of her possible suitors wary, just as her mother had feared.
Yet as Bella woke up one morning in early April to play a round with her father, the mayor of Port Angeles, and his wife, her world was about to change forever. By the third hole, her new opponents were impressed, by the ninth, they were humbled. And as she retrieved her ball from the cup on the 18th hole, the mayor was in awe of her skill and already plotting. As they headed to the mixed grille for lunch, the mayor quickly began to bend the Chief's ear. After a few minutes of spirited discussion, the two men turned to Bella where she sat in conversation with her companion. It wasn't long before the mayor was calling over the club president to have Isabella Swan added to the local qualifier for the US Open.
While some were worried that her entry would make a mockery, others were thrilled at the positive light it would shine on the club. If she lost, they'd still be seen as open-minded for letting her compete, but if she won, then they could tout her as the club's own diamond in the rough.
Setting out for the local qualifier, which was only six people, she quickly placed herself at the head of the pack, and by the end of 18 holes would be going on to Tacoma for the 36-hole sectional qualifier.
With her father on her bag, Bella made a fine showing in Tacoma against much stiffer competition, and a less welcome reception. Bella had no thoughts beyond this day of golf though and pulled out a surprising victory on the final hole.
Yet winning the qualifiers and being eligible to compete in the US Open wasn't her hardest battle, that one was fought at the dinner table over the passing days and weeks.
"Charles, this has gone on long enough! Isabella is already 20 years old. She needs to settle down, and she won't be able to do that if any potential husbands are scared off by her lack of propriety."
"She isn't the only woman out there Renee, far from it!" Her father fired back in anger.
"Yes, but they are married and play along with their husbands for a few holes and then ride in the cart or return to the clubhouse and play cards, they don't beat their husbands and claim the trophy."
"Your daughter has a chance to make history, doesn't that make you proud?"
Renee looked at her daughter and her features hardened. "No. It makes me mourn the loss of the grandchildren that I may now never see."
"What if I made you a promise?" Isabella stood from her spot at the end of the table where she had been peeling potatoes for dinner. "What if my final shot at the US Open was the last time I touched a club until my husband invited me to play with him? Would you give me your blessing then?"
Her mother leveled her eyes to her daughter, ignoring her husband's shocked expression. "A lady isn't much without her word, Isabella."
Squaring her shoulders, Bella sat the knife on the table. "Then it's a good thing I intend on keeping it."
Renee walked over to Isabella and took the pot of potatoes from her. "I won't speak another word against it, Charles you can have them send the telegram." As she left the room, Charles turned to his daughter.
"How could you make such a promise?"
"If I win, I could never make a living from it, and if I lose I'd be reminded of exactly how that felt every time I played…how close I'd come to greatness. I play the game because I love it, so why go on after something has taken the loving out of it?"
The conductor called out, alerting her that the next stop was Rochester, NY, her destination. The train pulled into the station at 7:30 on Wednesday morning, making Isabella one of the last competitors to arrive before the party to officially begin the tournament that evening. Bella stepped onto the platform and made her way to where she had been instructed to get her luggage, but was stopped almost immediately.
"Miss Swan?" Bella looked up in the direction the voice had come from and saw a man in his early thirties staring at her.
"Yes, I'm Isabella Swan. And you are…?"
"Mr. Jenks, I'm here on behalf of the Tournament Committee. It's my job to welcome you to Rochester, take you to the clubhouse, and then to your accommodations."
Bella smiled at the nervous man and began following him to the baggage area where they picked up her luggage and clubs.
On the ride to Beech Knoll Country Club, Bella got a brief glimpse of the middle class neighborhood as Mr. Jenks skirted it before heading through the more well-to-do and roundabout route, until they pulled up the long lane leading to the gorgeous, Tudor-styled clubhouse.
Isabella looked up in awe as she was ushered into the front entrance and then down a long hallway to the left that led to the locker rooms. After passing the large men's locker room, Mr. Jenks stopped in front of the ladies' locker room and knocked on the door. The door opened, and an African American man with short hair and a genuine smile stood in the doorway. "Miss Swan, my name is Laurent Jones and I'm the locker room attendant. I'm in charge of both the men's facilities as well as yours, so we'll be seeing a lot of each other over the next few days. How about I give you a tour?"
"Laurent, would you mind showing her to the accommodations provided for her by the Committee when you're done, I have to check with the arrangements for tonight or the president will have my head."
"Sure, Mr. Jenks, you go tend to the party." Laurent smiled and turned to Isabella. "Don't be afraid child, I won't bite."
The slight twang as he referred to her as 'child' alerted her to the probability that he had been born down South, which brought her some relief as she felt that his hospitality might not be put on. "Thank you, Laurent."
He took the package of information from her and escorted her into the main room. "You won't have any company in this room over the weekend as the club is closed for the event. No man is allowed to enter here besides club staff, and all must knock and announce themselves first. My room is in the back here," he led Bella to a small room with a bi-fold doors that shielded the view of the locker room where there was a shelf and a window with a shutter hanging over it.
"If you need anything from me, you knock and open the shutter on your side, and when I'm ready I'll open mine. They're strict about me opening both of my shutters at once, so you don't have to worry about what any of the men might see. Now, the caddie yard is at the end of this row, past the equipment rooms and the pro shop, if any of those boys try to give you trouble or sneak in here, you let me know and I'll have them banned from the club. Other than that, here's your locker, and your lock," Laurent motioned towards the open locker beside him and handed her a lock with the key still in the cylinder, "you can put any of the toiletries or necessities you would like to keep in here along with your clubs and then I'll show you to the…" Laurent looked at the key he had plucked from the folder and shook his head. "Damn King and his games."
Bella's brow furrowed, unsure of what had caused the change in Laurent's demeanor. "Is there something wrong?"
"Nothing you need to worry yourself with. It seems that instead of staying at the King Hotel, which sits to the right of the club grounds like the other competitors; you are being housed in one of the small cottages on the grounds. They're usually reserved for upper staff or visitors that cannot afford other lodging. Don't let them into your head, Miss. The King Hotel is owned by Mr. King, his son Royce is one of the other entrants in the Open and they'll do what they can to make this week difficult without being overt about it. This is a boys' club and you won't find the same support you did at home."
Bella nodded and smiled. "I didn't find much support at home either. If my father hadn't been Chief, I don't believe they would have accepted me so openly. And please, call me Bella."
Laurent shook his head, and looked at the paperwork again. "Okay Bella, here is your official USGA rule booklet and information on the US Open at Beech Knoll. Which would you rather do first, get yourself set up in the cottage or find yourself a caddie?"
Bella looked shocked at him before reigning in her expression. "How did you know…?"
"You didn't come in with anyone and you haven't mentioned your caddie."
Bella looked down. "My father couldn't make the trip. He caddied for me in the qualifiers. How about we take care of that first, that way I can relax when you take me down there."
"Very well, have you eaten lunch yet?"
Laurent smiled and pulled out one last page. "Here's the lunch menu for the mixed grille, how about you pick something and I'll put in the order while you clean up from the long trip and I'll bring it to the window. Once you're done we'll head out to the yard."
"Thank you, Laurent. I have a feeling you may be the only friend I have in New York."
"I'm sure you'll charm the lot of them in your time here."
Bella smiled and picked out a half sandwich and soup cup for lunch and then Laurent left her be. Isabella went to the bathroom and washed the grime from travel off and changed into a long pleated blue skirt and a frilly cap sleeved shirt. Brushing her hair and fixing it into a ponytail, she answered the knock at Laurent's window to take her lunch and eat it before meeting the caddies.
A little while later, Laurent escorted her to the caddie yard where several young men sat lounging around. Taking one look at Isabella, they straightened up and a whistle escaped the crowd. "Watch it, Michael. All right, any of you who are still looking to caddie in the Open, Miss Swan is still in need of one."
The guys all looked around, avoiding her eyes as Laurent sighed. Isabella turned to him and asked, "Where's the driving range, Laurent?"
He looked out to the left just past the 18th hole. She followed his eyes and nodded, heading inside to get her clubs. Coming out a minute later, she walked from the side entrance of the pro shop, not even acknowledging the crowd as she continued to the range and teed up. Swinging the club, she sent the ball flying just past the two-hundred yard marker. Teeing up again, she hit four more shots as Edward Cullen walked around the building and saw her shot land as he reached the other caddies. "Who is that?"
"The woman, she's looking for a caddie." Eric spoke as Edward continued towards the driving range, stopping about five feet behind her and off to the right, so she could see him without interrupting her.
Finishing her sixth shot, Bella lowered her club and turned to Edward. "Can I help you?"
Edward smiled at her, recognizing that the sass was probably how she had survived playing the sport for this long. "It was smart to use a local caddie, because their knowledge of the course will work to your advantage."
Isabella eyed the gorgeous man standing behind her and raised her eyebrow at him. "Thank you for the complement, but it seems none of the boys will carry for me. They're probably worried about the affect it will have on their income after I return home to Washington."
"I think I can survive it." Bella turned to see Edward smiling at her in a way that made her slightly uncomfortable, not because of his actions, but because of the emotions it awoke in her.
Bella smiled and extended her hand to him. "You're hired. Now do you have time to take me around the course before tonight? We would have to set out now."
Edward looked behind him and nodded. "Sure. Let's set out now while the men are still enjoying their lunch."
Edward picked up her bag and threw it onto his back as they set out towards the first tee. Over the next three hours, Edward let Isabella get a feel for the course without interfering, wanting to let her try it without any influence, knowing that tomorrow she would expect his opinion based on her performance today.
He was impressed by her ability to read some of the holes, while there were a few that gave her trouble, but for someone who had never played the course before, it was a fine showing. Reaching the end of the course, he took her putter as she stepped off the green. "So, how shocked were you by my play?"
Edward smiled and looked down. "Impressed would be a better word. If you can keep your nerves under control and listen to some of my suggestions as you play through, you'll be fine. Just don't listen to the men; they're going to start on you as soon as possible."
Bella laughed and continued towards the clubhouse. "Believe me, they've already tried."
Taking her clubs from him, she entered the clubhouse and returned to the locker room. Knocking on the window, Laurent answered after a few minutes and then brought her to the cottage, which was through a small path in the woods. Arriving there with her luggage, Laurent helped her inside and then disappeared to finish his preparations for the following day. Once inside, Bella set out to unpack so she could pick out her dress for that evening and then head into the bathroom to get ready.
The bathroom was small, but would serve her purpose as she quickly bathed and then towel dried her hair before setting it in curlers and sprayed it, hoping it would set in time to style.
Moving around the small cottage, she placed the few personal items she had brought with her around the main room, finished putting her clothes away, and then tried to relax.
Around 6pm, she took her hair down and pinned the sides back letting the curls fall down her back as she fussed with a few of the pin curls that framed her face. Doing her makeup, she didn't do her eyes quite as dramatic as the current style, but still looking fashionable, and then applied her red lipstick and slipped into her black and blue plaid dress. Putting on her golf shoes, she checked her appearance in the mirror and then headed over to the clubhouse, opting to carry her heels for the night so they wouldn't get dirty on the walk over. Making a quick stop to the locker room to change and drop off her golf shoes, she reemerged and walked towards the main entryway.
Walking through the lobby, Mr. Jenks found her and showed her into the ballroom. There were plenty of women around the room, but a majority of them were on the arms of players she knew well from watching the previous year's US Open with her father.
As the room continued to fill, a man took the stage and called everyone to attention. "May I have your attention, please? My name is Robert Green and I'm the club president here at Beech Knoll. I'd like to welcome you to the 1956 U.S. Open. This year's event looks to be one for the history books as we have in our company Liam O'Hare making his first trip to America from his native Ireland, as well as the Volturi brothers who have come in hopes of bringing the trophy back to England this year. Standing in their way are two of the tour's southern veterans, Emmett McCarthy and Garrett Logan, the newly professional Alec Jacobs, Rochester's own Royce King, and the first woman to ever compete in a men's tournament, Isabella Swan."
The moment her name was announced, the eyes of the room focused on her and she felt her nerves take over. She was unaccustomed to social situations like this where there wasn't a single friend in the room. Her smile never betrayed her feelings as she bowed her head slightly to the people who acknowledged her and then worked to fade back into the paneled walls and enjoy the evening as best she could.
After a short while, Isabella heard a throat clear behind her. She turned to see two men standing behind her, each with a beautiful woman by his side. "Miss Swan, I just wanted to come over and introduce myself as we'll be spending a significant amount of time together tomorrow. My name is Emmett McCarthy, and this vision is my wife, Rosalie."
Bella smiled and took the hand he offered. "I hadn't checked to see how the pairing had worked out, but it will be an honor playing with you. My father and I watched both of you compete last year and it will be wonderful to see it in person."
"Someone who plays for the genuine love of the sport, that's rare at this level, but you seem to be here to break many of the sport's previous preconceptions. It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Swan. You seem to have a knowledge of who I am, but let me introduce you to my Katie." Bella smiled at Garrett and his wife before a scoff drew all their attention to the spot where Alec Jacobs stood with his twin sister, Jane.
Katie narrowed her eyes at the pair and they soon turned and departed. "Good luck tomorrow, Miss Swan, with this crowd you'll need it."
Isabella was unsure if the comment was genuine or a dig at her, but brushed it aside as Mr. Jenks claimed her so she could meet Mr. Green.
Soon the food began to thin out around the room and more people took to the floor to dance as, once again, Isabella hung back. Many of the tour players made their introductions; the only one showing civility towards her was Liam O'Hare and his wife, Siobhan, who spoke to Isabella for nearly fifteen minutes of light-hearted conversation before her husband claimed her for a dance.
The Volturi brothers, Aro and Caius, were as different in personality as they were in appearance. While Caius scowled at her from a distance, Aro came right over to her and clasped her hand, talking to her about how wonderful he thought it was that she was competing and how quaint the American people were for regarding women in such a way as to let her compete. Aro's presence only tensed Isabella more as Siobhan swooped in to claim her as Liam did the same of Aro.
It was at this point that another piranha approached Bella. "Miss Swan, my name is James Hunt. I'm a reporter for the Rochester Post. Would you mind giving me a few moments of your time?"
"I'm sorry, but I make it a rule to focus solely on the following days rounds and not discuss it with the press." Mr. Hunt didn't give up easily, but as Isabella offered nothing, he soon he chose a different target to focus in on.
A little while later, Isabella had made her way to the facilities when she overheard two young women discussing her by the vanity area.
"I cannot believe she actually believes she could compete with them. There's no way she could hit the ball as far as Royce."
The second voice squeaked a laugh and then continued on to chide her friend. "She isn't here to compete, Jessica, she's here to land herself a rich husband. Unfortunately for her, none of them will look at her as anything but a little girl trying to play a man's game. A woman's place is in the gallery, not on the green."
The two laughed as Isabella walked out of the stall and over to the free sink, washing her hands as the stunned girls looked on. "You should check to see who else is in the room before you start talking about someone."
The words barely escaped Bella's mouth before one of the tears she fought to keep at bay fell. Reining them in, she exited the bathroom and was confronted by Royce King as he stood outside the bathroom door. "Being invited doesn't mean you belong, Miss Swan. It would serve you better to withdraw now. If you did, I might even save a dance for you at the party celebrating my victory after the final round tomorrow night."
The way he sneered her name made the hairs on her neck stand up as she backed away from him. "You assume too much, King. Not even the weather is certain as there seems to be a storm on the horizon."
Turning to get out of there before anyone else could rattle her further, Isabella walked briskly through the lobby and down the long corridor, exiting near the pro shop and into the chilly June night without a coat. She moved quickly as she heard a voice call out behind her, not recognizing it until it's owner grabbed her arm and she spun to see who it was.
"Are you all right?" Edward's brow was marked with his concern as she took a breath and relaxed slightly.
"I was just trying to escape the boys' club as the general theme of 'you don't belong' was made pretty well known with only a few exceptions. I expected it from the men, but the women were almost worse."
Isabella shivered and Edward frowned at her. "Where's your wrap or sweater?"
Bella blushed at the slight scolding in his voice. "It was still warm when I left so I didn't bring one."
Edward shrugged out of his coat and placed it around her shoulders as he motioned towards the path that led to the hotel, but Isabella shook her head. "I'm staying in one of the cottages."
Edward was annoyed at the pettiness of the King's, but continued guiding her along the path. "This one is better lit at night and it will fork to the left and bring you to the woods near the hotel where the cottages are just the same. If you are returning to the cottages at night, take this path, and try to have someone you trust walk you home."
"Well then, if you're around, I'll simply ask you." Isabella blushed further at her admission about a man she barely knew, but he was filled with pride at her comment.
"I'd be happy to escort you home." As they reached the fork, they continued on to her cottage. Isabella walked over to a rock in the garden and turned it over, picking up the key to the cottage. "You shouldn't do that, this isn't a small town in Washington, you know."
Bella laughed as she unlocked the door. "That isn't my key; Laurent told me that they keep the spare in the garden. I only used it because I didn't bring a purse tonight. Thank you for walking me home, Edward. I'll see you in the morning."
"Goodnight, Miss Sw-"
"Bella, when we're away from unfriendly ears you can call me by my given name."
Edward laughed and nodded. "Sweet dreams, Bella." As he took his coat back and turned to walk back to the clubhouse and fetch his bike, Edward felt a tightening in his chest as he rode further away from the course and his pro.
Meanwhile, as Isabella prepared for bed and climbed under the covers, her mind was not on the 36 holes she'd be playing for the opportunity to make the cut and compete on Friday, but instead on the young man that had walked her home.
A/N : By the way, the title for this story is an urban legend born out of the "boys club" mentality.
Mixed Grille - In clubhouses, they tend to have two dining rooms, a men's grille where men are the only people allowed within the four walls, and the mixed grille where women and children are allowed to eat. Part of my summer at the CC, I waitressed in the mixed grille and I couldn't cross the threshold into the men's grille, but instead had to call through a tiny window and wait for someone to come and get the drinks for my customers because the bar was on that side and that was my only way to serve drinks to my diners. This will come into play even more later, but I used the term a few times so I wanted to explain it now.