The Lady Golfer’s Bag Check

In golf, as in life, it is the follow through that makes the difference.dr-seuss-clipart-dr_seuss

Dr. Seuss

One of my planned chores this weekend was to clean out and re-stock my golf bag.  I had a good excuse for not getting the job done as scheduled since our building elevator was out of order and getting my big stand bag full of clubs upstairs would not have been simple or easy.  Now that the elevator has been repaired, it’s time to get down to business.

lake-1210971_1920I’ve been inspired to give my bag a thorough cleaning and re-stocking as I recently joined the Executive Women’s Golf Association (EWGA) in an effort to get serious about improving my golf game and expanding my business network.  If you’re not familiar with EWGA, it is an international community which promotes the game of golf and provides business networking opportunities for women.  I thought this post might be useful to other women golfers and have modeled it after a segment on Tennis Channel called “bag check” where they give you a peek inside a pro’s bag.  BTW, I am not a pro by any stretch of the imagination.  I am, however, one of those women who carries a well-stocked handbag.  Not as well stocked as my Nana who would likely have a few liverwurst sandwiches, a boiled egg, etc. wherever she went.

In random order, these are the nine key types of items I want to always have in my bag. The items may be different for you, so feel free to customize to suit your needs.  I will often package up a group of items in a ziplock bag to keep things neat and tidy in my bag.

  1. “Essential” toiletries include lip gloss/moisturizer, hand cream, insect repellant, and sunscreen.  The insect repellant and sunscreen are kinda obvious and apply equally to men and women.  The lip products and hand cream are personal pet peeves of mine.  I suffer from dry hands and lips so I don’t want to be distracted by those types of annoyances when they can be prevented so easily.  Your essentials may be entirely different, and there is no judging coming from me.  Golf is hard enough without losing focus due to relatively petty annoyances.
  2. Zyrtec or your antihistamine of choice if you’re an allergy sufferer.  I’m allergic to weeds, trees, and grasses.  I haven’t seen a golf course yet without at least two of the three — I’m giving the benefit of the doubt here and assuming there are a few courses somewhere that are 100% weed free.  I get individually packaged tablets (samples) from my allergist periodically and stick those in my golf bag.  Useful in case I forgot to take one before leaving the house, or if I feel the need to double up.  You may also want to consider Tylenol, a mini first aid kit or whatever helps you feel prepared.
  3. You never know when you’ll need tissues, and with my allergies I know I need to have them on hand.  I always need to work at keeping these in my bag lest I end up with strips of TP out on the course.  Also handy if you’re on a public course where they’ve run out of TP OtherFINAL.  I buy the small purse size packets in bulk.  I also carry individually wrapped wipes like Wet Ones which I buy at Target.  You never know when you might need or want a quick cleanup.
  4. Tech stuff, including earphones, a spare battery and charging cable.  The earphones are useful to have for practice on the driving range or for putting practice.   I went to a short game clinic a couple of years ago where it was recommended to practice your putting with a metronome to help reinforce your putting rhythm.  I still do this, and it really does help.  I have a free app on my iPhone that I use called MetroTimer.  When I’m on the practice putting green, I plug in the earphones and turn on the app (I set it to 75 Beats Per Minute or BPM).  Try this, it really works.  If you’d like to learn more about this, click here for a video from The Golf Channel.  I also carry a spare battery and charging cable for my phone.  I don’t use a GPS device for distances or keeping track of my score, instead, I use an app on my phone called GolfLogix (available for iOS and Android)   This type of app will chew up your battery so I always try to start with a fully charged battery and case.  The “candy bar” charger is for extra insurance.
  5. I always have a selection of practice aids including my range key on hand.  I don’t always have all of them with me, but I’ll have at least a few.  My favorite is the PVC pipe alignment tool (see photo below) that I was given in a short-game clinic a couple of years ago. You can easily pick up the parts needed at your local hardware store and make your own.  The other interesting item in the photo below is a Putter Wheel which helps with your putting and can make a huge difference in your final score.
  6. Basic golf supplies including ball markers, tees, balls, and gloves.  The list here could get long, but you get the idea.
  7. Miscellaneous items I like to have for my comfort include a case for Sunnies, spray cleaner and cleaning cloth.  I also have a set of Nike sleeves, a golf umbrella, and a cooling towel.  I would also recommend that you include a supply of business cards for networking opportunities after your round.
  8. Although you won’t find me with a liverwurst sandwich, snacks, beverages and Altoids are typically in my bag.  For snacks, I love the individually packaged trail mixes at Trader Joe’s and Kind bars that I pickup from Costco.
  9. Last but not least, you can carry 13 clubs in your bag, and this was one of the things I focused on relatively early.  Prepackaged sets of clubs may have as few as 7 clubs so you really want to figure out where the gaps are in your bag and close those as soon as you can.  When I first began to play, the first “extra” club I purchased was a used 60¬į lob wedge.  I needed a bit of extra loft for my short game and that club became one of my favorites.  When I finally upgraded to a custom fit set of Mizuno’s I passed that wedge along to a playmate who came to love that club.  She still plays with it.

Photo of some of the items I carry in my golf bag
Photo of some of the items I carry in my golf bag
Finally, if you are looking to make some additions to your bag or your golf wardrobe I have a referral link from one of my favorite online women’s golf retailers.  This link from Golf4Her will give you a 10% discount off of your purchases.  I’m itching now for a new push cart and some new clothes.

Did I miss anything?  I know that I’m not traveling light, but I was a girl scout and our motto was to always be prepared.  Let me know your thoughts…I’d love to have a list of ten.

 

Tropical Floral Favorites from the Princeville Botanical Gardens

Pink tropical flower
Not sure what this is, although it reminds me of a hyacinth just a little. If you know what this lovely is, let me know ūüôā

 

 

 

tropical pink and orange flowers
I’m not certain what these are, although they remind me of shrimp flowers
Closeup of a torch ginger lily
This beautiful bloom is a Torch Ginger Lily
Malaysian White Bat Flower
This is a rare Malaysian White Bat Flower

Things to do in Bangkok: Find Design Inspiration at Two Historic Thai House Museums

Introduction to the Nai Lert Park Heritage Home

Most Bangkok visitors are familiar with the legend of Jim Thompson and make it a point to visit the Jim Thompson House and Museum — it should not be missed, and I will share my impressions on the house later in this post. ¬†There is, however, a new arrival on the house museum scene that is also worthy of your time if you can work it into your schedule. ¬†That new entrant is the Nai Lert Park Heritage Home. ¬†Opened to the public in late 2015, the home was originally constructed in 1915 and occupied¬†by three generations of the Lert family. ¬†The home is open for public tours, however calling ahead for hours and to reserve a tour is necessary. ¬†In addition, the house can be booked for weddings and special events. ¬†In fact, if you look on Instagram for photos tagged with the home’s location you will find many beautiful wedding and event photos.

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A bit of #shelfie inspiration from Ma Maison

One other thing should be mentioned before we talk specifically about the Lert family home. ¬†The home sits on a good sized lot which includes a public park, a museum store, and two restaurants. ¬†We decided to hang around after our tour to await the opening of the Ma Maison restaurant for dinner. ¬†The restaurant is intimate with an abundance of orchids on display and wonderfully crammed full display shelves for your #shelfie inspiration. ¬†The prices are reasonable, and the restaurant appears to cater to locals who are “in the know”. ¬†The food was good, as was the service, however, we did have some communication challenges due to language. ¬†I would still recommend dinner there if it fits with your plans.

 

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Exterior view of the Nai Lert Park Heritage House

Now back to the house. ¬†The home’s architecture is traditional Thai, which for starters in very practical terms means that the home is elevated, consisting of two separate buildings joined by a common walkway. ¬†Incidentally, one of the two buildings was destroyed by a bomb in World War II and rebuilt. ¬†The crater from the bomb is now a beautiful lotus pond. ¬†The main living area is reached by an exterior staircase and surrounded by a veranda that is protected from the elements by a wide overhang.

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To fully appreciate and understand this home and it’s contents, we must first ask “who was Nai Lert?” ¬†The answer to that question is vital. ¬†Lert was named Phraya Bhakdinorasresth, meaning “beloved millionaire” by King Rama VI in 1925. ¬†You can think¬†of Lert as a prominent, early industrialist in Thailand. Well known for his many innovations and contributions to Thai society, for example,¬†Lert was the first to import cars from Europe, as well as starting the first public bus service in Bangkok. ¬†The Lert influence extended to other family members as the first female Thai cabinet member was Thanphuying Lursakdi, Lert’s daughter and sole heir who served as Thailand’s Minister of transportation.

 

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Section from a large wall hanging in the Nai Lert Park Heritage House

The Lert family lovingly restored the 100-year-old home and opened it to the public just over a year ago, keeping many of the family heirlooms and furnishings intact and on display for your enjoyment. ¬†The collections include furniture, porcelains, a collection of antique walking sticks, and even a stand-in for Thanphuying Lursakdi’s beloved dog

 

The Jim Thompson Legacy

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Depending on the length of your stay in Bangkok and which days of the week you are there, you may not be able to visit the Nai Lert Park Heritage House, however, the Jim Thompson House and Museum,¬†as¬†shown in the image above is very accessible as it is open daily. ¬†Do call, however, to verify hours. ¬†Opened to the public as a museum after Thompson was legally declared dead back in the seventies, the Thompson House is a “must see” venue for art and design lovers. ¬†Although both of these locations feature traditional Thai architecture, there are a number of important differences. ¬†In addition, the Thompson House has one of the best collections of South East Asian art in the world. ¬†Thompson describes the objective for his collecting activity as follows:

I have tried to build up as fine a collection as I can to leave to this country. I know that the museum does not have funds to buy many of the fine pieces that turn up, and rather than see them leave the country, I have tried to buy the really exceptional ones to keep them here. I have paid very high prices for many of them, but I know that if I did not, they might have gone for good. I hope that you will believe that I am deeply interested in the archaeology and preservation of the beautiful things of this country, and I am not making a collection for financial advantages or selfish purposes.

Before we explore a few of the architectural differences between the two homes, it is important to understand a bit of the Thompson legend and how the home came to be. ¬†The story of Jim Thompson, his life as an ex-pat in Thailand, and his mysterious disappearance in Malaysia is actually a great read. ¬†In fact, Thompson disappeared on Easter Sunday 50 years ago. ¬† As I write this post what happened to him remains a great mystery. ¬†To read more specifically¬†about Thompson’s life and disappearance beyond the brief synopsis I’ll provide, the book titled Jim Thompson: ¬†The Unsolved Mystery by William Warren is a great resource. ¬†I was able to get a copy from my local library, but it is still available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats.

51uZnN6AdULSince photography is not allowed in the Thompson house you may also want to consider the book Jim Thompson: ¬†The House on the Klong. ¬†Note that there are two versions — a 2007 version and a 2015 version with a slightly reworded title. ¬†You can find both on Amazon (or at the museum if you’re willing to carry it home), and either would make a lovely reference or coffee table book. ¬†In addition to images from the home’s interior like the one on the book’s cover, the book also has reference information on Thai art and on the antique Chinese porcelain in the house. ¬†The porcelain information is also relevant to the collection at the Nai Lert Heritage House.

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Jim Thompson in his home office, image from Jim Thompson: The Unsolved Mystery

Jim Thompson was born in 1906 in Greenville, Delaware. ¬†After graduating from Princeton, he spent nine years working as an architect in New York City where based upon his interest in the ballet he became a director of the Monte Carlo Ballet company which was a forerunner of the NYC ballet. ¬†During his time with the ballet company, he developed an appreciation of costume and set design which would help distinguish him in his future career endeavors. ¬†In yet another career switch, as America entered WW II Thompson quit his job and enlisted in the Delaware National Guard. ¬†He would later join a new military organization that specialized in clandestine missions known at the time as the Office of Strategic Services — that organization is now known as the Central Intelligence Agency (you know, the one on Homeland) or CIA. ¬†It was while on assignment with the OSS that he was deployed to Thailand, and he ultimately made Thailand his home.

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A recent fashion ad campaign for Gucci featuring Tom Hiddleston.  Source:  Jim Thompson Fabrics Instagram

Thompson really was a master of reinvention and embarked upon his fourth adult career. ¬†Upon permanently settling in Thailand after a divorce, Thompson became interested in the Thai silk industry. ¬†This was an industry that really wasn’t doing well based on the introduction of cheaper machine-made textiles. ¬†Many of the families that had historically woven fabric in their homes were moving into other endeavors to make a living. ¬†These lustrous silk fabrics reminded him of those found in the ballet costumes, and he ultimately packed a bag of samples which he brought to New York where he met with the editors of Vogue and Vanity Fair. ¬†Indeed, while Thompson’s silks are well known to the interior design trade, they initially were picked up by fashion designers. ¬†By the way, another Thompson connection was with Thailand’s Queen Sirikit. ¬†Thompson and Thailand’s silk industry received greater visibility as these fabrics were used in a wardrobe designed for the Queen by Pierre Balmain. ¬†To read more about these beautiful fashions and how you can see them, click here.

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A gorgeous contemporary interior designed by Christopher Kennedy Inc. featuring Jim Thompson Fabrics via Instagram

Jim Thompson brought a number of key skills to bear which fueled the revival of the Thai silk industry and the establishment of the business which lives on today.  He was an enthusiastic proponent of Thai silk and his enthusiasm for the product really translated into sales results and penetration of the US and European export markets.  Thompson also introduced chemical dyes to the industry and played a significant role in developing color ways or color combinations.

As the business became more successful, Thompson became an avid collector of Thai antiquities. ¬†At the time, there wasn’t much of a preservation effort in Thailand, so the fact that Thompson collected so much for his home and left it all in his will to found a museum means that there is a substantial collection that has been preserved for our enjoyment.

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Perfect for entertaining, the dining room features antique furnishings and beautiful teak surfaces

In the early sixties when Jim Thompson designed and constructed his Bangkok home he purchased six individual¬†buildings¬†which were¬†disassembled¬†and moved by canal or klong to his home site. ¬†These buildings were historic in that some dated back to the 19th century. ¬†It is important to note that traditional Thai architecture utilizes what I would characterize as “prefab” movable architecture. ¬†This means that a family could build a home, and later disassemble the home so that it could be moved to a new site. ¬†This was also desirable since as the family’s¬†needs expanded, additional buildings could be constructed and connected to the original home. ¬†Another reason that had cultural importance is it’s not common for Thai people to buy homes on the resale market that were owned by other families due to their Buddhist beliefs. ¬†Having spirits (especially negative ones) from other families around is not at all desirable, and great care is taken to provide a spirit house to keep the ancestral spirits happy. ¬†The Lert home provides another example of these multiple buildings which were joined together by common walkways.

Architecturally speaking, raised thresholds are a common Thai design feature and serve as a way to literally trip up evil spirits. ¬†Note that at the time Thompson designed and built his home, prosperous Thai families were more interested in modern Western architectural styles, especially in urban areas like Bangkok. ¬†This house did have some Western elements as well as design elements which were specific to Thompson’s requirements. ¬†For example, Thompson preferred an interior staircase, and you can see that specific difference in the photos above. ¬†Also, the walkways which connect the six buildings are all on the interior like you would see in a Western home. ¬†Modern conveniences like air conditioning (in the office area only) and Western style bathrooms are also included. ¬†You’ll also notice in the image above the red exterior paint which I understand was popularized by Thompson.

The on-site landscaping (examples below) is every bit as important as the architecture. ¬†The grounds are filled with an abundance of tropical plant life and outdoor art. ¬†Thompson entertained regularly, and it wasn’t uncommon for American and European celebrities or dignitaries to be entertained by Thompson. ¬†All who visited were wowed by both the house and its landscaping. ¬†There was plenty of entertainment in the house over the years initiated by a housewarming party that featured a performance by a Thai dance company.

I hope that you’ve found this post both entertaining and useful. ¬†If you have already visited or are visiting Bangkok in the near future, I’d love to hear what you think of these museums. ¬†If you know someone who will be going, please share this post.

One of the many decorative statues on the grounds of the Grand Palace -- shot with my iPhone 7+

Things to do in Bangkok: Visit the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles

‚ÄúWe live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄstJawaharial Nehru

One of the most enjoyable museum visits in my recent visit to Bangkok was the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles. ¬†If you buy a ticket to visit the Grand Palace, admission to this museum is included. ¬†This air-conditioned museum is located within the massive Grand Palace complex, and I suspect that many tourists overlook it–especially those who are on tight time schedules. ¬†As a design junkie, textile lover, and someone who has sewn since junior high school I was curious about this museum and decided to seek respite from the heat while seeing what it was all about. ¬†I am so glad that I did!

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Image showing the detail of a Khon costume from the exhibit

This little gem of a museum had two exhibits that I really enjoyed and would recommend highly.  The first was titled Dressing Gods and Demons: Costume for Khon.  Khon is a Thai narrative dance form which features very ornate, heavily embellished costumes.  Queen Sirikit revived the dance form and sponsored research into the design and craftsmanship of these costumes.  This exhibit is currently scheduled to be on view through May of 2017. Be sure to visit the museum website linked above for the most up to date information on exhibits.

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Queen Sirikit in a 1960 NYC parade

Queen Sirikit has long been a supporter¬†of the Thai textile industry, and the second exhibit titled¬†Fit For A Queen: Her Majesty Queen Sirikit‚Äôs Creations by Balmain is a real treat for fashionistas. ¬†Here is the backstory — beginning in 1960 Her Majesty and her husband King Bhumibol Adulyadej embarked on a series of official state visits to the US and Europe to represent and promote Thailand. ¬†In preparation for these important state visits, Queen Sirikit began a 22-year relationship with French designer Pierre Balmain. ¬†Although styles have changed over the years, many of the items shown would still be fashionable today.

quote-dressmaking-is-the-architecture-of-movement-pierre-balmain-79-23-40Younger readers may not recognize the Balmain name. ¬†Although the House of Balmain is still in existence, it does not enjoy the same level of recognition in the fashion world that it once did. ¬†Here is a bit of fashion history. ¬†Back in the 1930s, Balmain was trained as an architect at the renowned Ecole des Beaux-Arts, a school famous for turning out classically trained architects. ¬†Indeed, Balmain later described dressmaking as “the architecture of movement”. ¬†Balmain is also credited with discovering the young, talented designer Karl Lagerfeld (now heading up fashion houses Chanel and Fendi), and hired him back in 1954.

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Penelope Cruz in vintage Balmain at the 2009 Oscars

Pierre Balmain enjoyed superstar status in the fashion world — his first collection was showcased in Vogue with a review that stated he delivered “beautiful clothes that you really want to wear”. ¬†That is high praise for any designer, and he won famous clients which included the Duchess of Windsor (now Queen Elizabeth), Marlene Dietrich, Josephine Baker and Katharine Hepburn. ¬†More recently Penelope Cruz was stunning back in 2009 when she accepted her¬†Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress wearing a vintage Balmain gown.

One interesting bit of trivia is that Balmain shares something in common with Italian designer Emilio Pucci. ¬†Balmain designed outfits for flight crews at TWA, Malaysia-Singapore Airlines, and Air France. ¬†Pucci designed outfits for the now-defunct¬†Braniff International Airways. ¬†This is one of those things that is really hard to comprehend in our current world of easily accessible budget airlines. ¬†Back in the olden days, air travel was a novel luxury and flight attendants wore very fashionable uniforms as part of the airline’s branding strategy — very unlike what we see now.

 

Image from 1955 Vogue Magazine cover featuring Pierre Balmain ensemble
This new clarity of colour, of cut – changes for the prettier in the 1955 costume. Here, a coat and sheath dress, swept clean of detail, striped clear-blue on white (white linen), neatly buckled; by Pierre Balmain – New York.

 

As compared with the massive 2016 Oscar de la Renta exhibit in San Francisco, this is a small exhibit. Upon viewing the exhibit which featured 30 different outfits and accompanying photos, I could not help but draw parallels between the young Thai royal couple and the young American first couple John and Jackie Kennedy.  With her grace and beauty, as well as her fabulous Balmain wardrobe Queen Sirikit became known as one of the best dressed and most fashionable women on the planet.

As Queen Sirikit became known on the world stage, she actively promoted the Thai silk industry by ensuring that many of her French designs¬†highlighted these beautiful fabrics. ¬†She also established a relationship with Jim Thompson, the American expatriate credited with helping to revive the traditional Thai silk industry. ¬†Thompson’s company provided a number of fabrics for Balmain’s creative use. ¬†Thompson’s Bangkok home is now a museum and is also a highly recommended destination for tourists — watch for more on the blog about this soon. ¬†In the meantime, if you’re planning a trip to Bangkok, do consider a visit to this museum. ¬†The exhibit is expected to run through June 2018, but do visit the museum website for the latest info. ¬†Let me know if you get the opportunity to visit.