(This story contains spoilers for ABC’s latest episode The golden bachelor.)
Gerry Turner was able to cheer the women on as they learned about one of his great passions – yes, we’re talking pickleball – during this week’s episode The golden bachelor.
The series finale featured a group dating competition in which the women teamed up for a pickleball tournament, including coaching newly minted Bachelor education star Joey Graziadei and encouragement from Bachelor Nation’s Trista Sutter. The Hollywood Reporter attended the taping of the date, where Ellen Goltzer and Kathy Swarts emerged as champions, while Sandra Mason – who stunned everyone with the news that she had skipped her daughter’s wedding that day to attend – received the date.
“I’m not going to lie; my excitement was just as great as theirs,” Turner joked THR about the athletics competition. “But I think the most impressive thing was how hard they tried. They really wanted to learn the game.”
During the episode, which also featured a one-on-one with Leslie Fhima, three women were sent home – Nancy Hulkower, April Kirkwood and Swarts – with only six contestants left and their hometown dates quickly approaching. During a break from the group meeting, Turner explained that his first two rose ceremonies were particularly challenging, but that he has since been grateful to have gotten a better sense of the ladies’ personalities.
“The first two rose ceremonies were extremely difficult, and that was because I didn’t know everyone that well,” he said. “So I kind of made uninformed decisions and their life-changing decisions. As I got a little further into the journey (with) the more recent rose ceremony, I felt a lot more comfortable because I knew the women a lot 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 ahead of the rose ceremony after telling Turner that he seemed more passionate with the other women, prompting him to reluctantly agree. After the pickleball games and before the cocktail party she was leaving, Hulkower said THR that she felt they had a lot in common, but emphasized: ‘Time is of the essence. I just hope I get a chance to talk to him.”
After the tournament, Kirkwood said THR that she couldn’t guarantee what the future held for herself and Turner, but that she simply enjoyed the opportunity. “He has a lot of hard choices to make, so regardless, I feel grateful and blessed to be here,” she said. “It was a wonderful experience. No regrets.”
Faith Martin, who had the first impression of Turner, told the story THR after the pickleball games that her experience had been great so far, 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 and thinking, ‘Oh, he’d be great with them,'” Martin admitted. ‘But then I saw that he also treated me wonderfully. So I’m excited.”
During his conversation with THR, Turner acknowledged that the biggest surprise for him on the journey was how quickly time passes, with challenging decisions constantly looming. In particular, he has focused on figuring out which women will ultimately be best suited for the upcoming dates in his hometown.
“The clock is ticking,” Turner said. “Every morning when I get up, I start thinking about my hometown, and then I go through my thoughts. I look at my notes I made and my diary. I’m glad I still have some time to make those choices, but I know they are close.”
The golden bachelor airs Thursdays at 8pm on ABC.