By Jessica Collett
I first came to learn of the Devil's Own (‘D.O.’) through hearing stories from the other lawyers at my firm. The tales of camaraderie, rivalry, shenanigans and glory. It certainly piqued my interest, but that was soon stifled by the realisation that I was 24 years old, a woman, had zero hand/eye co-ordination, and no experience at playing golf.
Thankfully I worked closely with Alice Nunn who, unlike me, was an outstanding golfer. She and another female lawyer from our firm had been to the Devil’s Own the previous year, and certainly managed to hold their own against the men.
In 2018 I mentioned to Alice that I would be interested in going if she could teach me how to play. Bless her optimism – she agreed to coach me and lent me her old set of clubs. With approximately three months, and maybe 12 holes in total, of considerably average golfing under my belt we were on a plane down to Palmerston North.
After checking into our motel we attended the registration/meet and greet event at a pub in the centre of town. Alice was not joking when she said we would be the minority. The pub was a sea of old greying men. The initial shock of “what on earth have I agreed to” soon passed as everyone was friendly and welcoming, and genuinely enthusiastic about a younger female being part of the D.O. With a glass of whisky in hand, I ate and mingled, and I was even invited to join a game of pool (which apparently, I am also terrible at).
The next day I geared up in my best golfing attire and set out for the course. The phrase “all the gear, and no idea” summed it up pretty well. The group I was paired with was fairly diverse in age, experience and skill level. The initial terror of “these people are going to hate me for taking 70 shots to get anywhere close to the green” was forgotten. They were all hugely supportive and offered me tips along the way. Julian in particular was brilliant.
I made it round the course without completely disgracing myself. Success! The banter along the way was second to none. We were laughing most of the way, fueled by the occasional drink and sausage. I finished the day having made some unexpected new friends and great memories.
Great food, ample wine and many laughs
That night was the formal dinner event. The first timers to the D.O. are introduced by a previous D.O. attendee. I was introduced by a former partner of our firm, Ron Backhouse. My introduction consisted mainly of “this is Jess, her family are all very successful jockeys”. Thanks Ron, way to sum me up in two sentences. The rest of the night consisted of great food, ample wine and many laughs.
The next day, the final day of play, everyone was looking a little less chipper from the previous night’s festivities. Paired with a different group of people, we set off again for an extremely long, mid-moderately hungover 12 holes of golf.
One of the partners of my firm made the final play off, so I joined the crowd in following the two players round the course. It came down to almost the final hole and he won. Thus, celebratory whisky and cigars all round!
At the prizegiving event, I won the runner-up prize for the women’s division which was a stunning set of champagne flutes. Second out of two people. What a champion! I mingled with the rest of the Devil’s Own-ers one last time. I said a sad goodbye to the people I had become friends with, promising that one day I would return, perhaps once I actually learned to play golf.
I am beyond excited to go back this year and really encourage more female lawyers to get involved. It is a great way to meet other lawyers and develop relationships with people that you would likely otherwise not get a chance to. You will be welcomed and made to feel involved. This year, we are also going to have a dedicated female golfers Facebook page www.facebook.com/groups/1499534676888604/ where you can connect with other people who are also wanting to play. We’ll be using the Facebook page to organise some accommodation for women that would like to attend. If anyone in Auckland would like to join for a round of golf or a session at the driving range, feel free to get in touch via our Facebook page.
Jessica Collett recently moved north from Hamilton to join Auckland firm Wilson McKay.