Gerry Turner was able to cheer on the women as they learned more about one of his great passions — yep, we’re talking about pickleball — during this week’s installment of The Golden Bachelor.
The latest episode featured a group-date competition as the women paired off for a pickleball tournament that included coaching from newly minted Bachelor star Joey Graziadei and encouragement from Bachelor Nation’s Trista Sutter. The Music news attended the taping of the date, which saw Ellen Goltzer and Kathy Swarts prevail as champions, with Sandra Mason — who stunned everyone with the news that she skipped her daughter’s wedding that day to participate — receiving the date rose.
“I’m not going to lie — my excitement was as high as theirs,” Turner quipped to THR about the athletic showdown. “But I think the most impressive part was how hard they were trying. They really wanted to learn the game.”
During the episode, which also included a one-on-one with Leslie Fhima, three women were sent home — Nancy Hulkower, April Kirkwood and Swarts — with just six contestants remaining and hometown dates fast approaching. During a break from the group date, Turner explained that his first two rose ceremonies were particularly challenging, but that he has been grateful since then to have a better sense of the ladies’ personalities.
“The first two rose ceremonies were extremely difficult, and it was because I didn’t know everyone very well at all,” he said. “So I was sort of making uninformed decisions and their life-changing decisions. As I’ve gotten a little bit further into the journey [with] the more recent rose ceremony, I was a lot more comfortable because I knew the women quite a bit better, so I felt like I was making an informed decision.”
Hulkower, who suffered a stress fracture in her leg while playing pickleball, was sent home prior to the rose ceremony after telling Turner that he seemed more passionate with the other women, leading him to reluctantly agree. After the pickleball games, and before the cocktail party during which she exited, Hulkower told THR that she felt the two of them had plenty in common but emphasized, “Time is of the essence. I’m just hoping I get the opportunity to talk to him.”
After the tournament, Kirkwood told THR that she couldn’t guarantee what the future held for herself and Turner but that she was just enjoying the opportunity. “He has a lot of hard choices to make, so either way, I feel grateful and blessed to be here,” she said. “It’s been a wonderful experience. No regrets.”
Faith Martin, who received Turner’s first impression rose, told THR after the pickleball games that her experience had thus far been amazing but that she was still hoping for more time with him, the Golden Bachelor himself. “For a while, I was comparing myself to all the other women, thinking, ‘Oh, he’d be great with them,’” Martin admitted. “But then I could see him being great with me, too. So I’m excited.”
During his chat with THR, Turner acknowledged that the biggest surprise for him in the journey had been how quickly time passes, with challenging decisions constantly around the corner. In particular, he has been focused on figuring out which women will eventually be the best fit for the upcoming hometown dates.
“The clock is ticking,” Turner said. “I start thinking about hometowns every morning when I get up, and I go through my thoughts. I look at my notes I’ve made and journaling. I’m glad I still have some time to make those choices, but I know they’re getting close.”
The Golden Bachelor airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.