Sometimes you can’t believe what happens in golf travel. Fumie Sato, 51, of Santa Barbara, Calif., planned her trip to Chattanooga. She’d fly out of Los Angeles International Airport, connect through Dallas and arrive at the Senior Women’s Amateur in plenty of time for a couple of practice rounds.
On Wednesday at 8 a.m., Sato, snuggled into her seat and her plane left the LAX runway. Twenty minutes out of L.A., the pilot’s voice came over the loudspeaker in the cabin. One of the lights on the instrument panel wouldn’t go out. They were turning back.
At LAX, the passengers were shifted to another plane. They took off. Thirty minutes later, the pilot announced that a light on the instrument panel wouldn’t go out. They were turning back.
“Okay, better to be safe,” Sato thought.
The mechanical problem was fixed and once again Sato’s plane took off. In Dallas, she missed her connection. Sato found another plane, flew to Charlotte, N.C., connected to Chattanooga, landed, rented a car and promptly got lost on the way to her hotel. At 1:30 a.m. Thursday, she checked into her room. Her luggage and golf clubs were out there somewhere, lost in America.
We caught up with her on the 13th green during her practice round.
“The last place the airline saw my clubs was in Dallas,” Sato said. “I came out to the course after a few hours sleep and bought these clothes I’m wearing.”
Crisp white golf shirt and khaki shorts. Nice and new.
“I rented this set of clubs in the golf shop,” she said. “They’re not the brand I use but it’s OK. I’m just glad to be here.”
She inspected the head of her putter. “And this putter is pretty good,” she said.
The reporter asked for Sato’s cell phone number. Maybe we could get a photo. Sato isn’t quite sure of her number, so retrieved her cell from her purse. There’s a message. It’s the airline.
Sato’s golf clubs have arrived! They’re bringing them out to The Honors Course. Right away. No one seems to know, or care, about the luggage.
Sato shot 90 in Saturday’s first round. She was a bit weary after her ordeal, but she had her clubs, her very own clubs. It was a fine reunion.