Her cell rings on the second hole with the 1960s tune "I Got You, Babe."

"I'm ready to change it," she says after finishing the call. "Especially when it goes off in meetings. It's a little bit embarrassing."

No matter. There are other reminders of her late husband, Sonny.

"Certain sights, restaurants at home," Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.) says. "My children, any time they either achieve something or need a little discipline."

Golf is one pursuit they did not share. Sonny didn't play and neither did she, until about five years ago when Bono, 43, whose district encompasses Palm Springs, one of America's premier golf meccas, picked up a club. Two years later, she got more into it. She currently plays to a 28 index.

"My goal is get out here and not be stressed out," Bono says during her round at Worthington Manor Golf Club in Urbana. "To actually relieve stress from my life."

It doesn't work out that way at first. She's spraying the ball to the right, failing to make a proper turn. To be fair, she is playing with men's clubs she hasn't used in two years while waiting for her current set, for which she was fitted by Callaway, to arrive from California. Also, because of an injury she suffered while waterskiing in the Colorado River in May 2004, she was unable to play for about eight months.

"I swear I'm not this bad," she says after an errant shot early in the round.

She perseveres, just as she did during those intense early months in Congress. After winning a special election in April 1998 to succeed her husband, who died in a skiing accident, she joined the House Judiciary Committee, which later became involved in former president Bill Clinton's impeachment case.

At first, Bono wasn't convinced that public office was the right move. Yet if it didn't work out, she says, "I knew I could always jump off."

These days, after being reelected three times, the question becomes: Does she want to move up? The matter was discussed earlier this year when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) paid a visit to Washington.

"Arnold was sitting in a chair next to [Rep.] David Dreier, and they were both smoking cigars," Bono says. "It was just the three of us." The governor asked if statewide office was in her future. "I didn't really answer the question," she said.

For now, the answer would appear to be no. A campaign for statewide office would require more time away from her family in Palm Springs -- husband Glenn Baxley, whom she married in 2001, and children, Chesare, 17, and Chianna, 14. Bono flies home every Thursday or Friday.

"My weekends would be devoted to campaigning rather than to being a mom," she says. "Once my daughter is through with high school, perhaps I'll look at a statewide run."

On the back nine, her game starts to come around. At No. 17, a 124-yard par 3, she nails a seven-iron to within five feet. She misses the putt, but walks away with her only par of the day. At 18, she hits an impressive drive.

"The back side was more like me," says Bono.

Late in the round, Bono recalls the day in 1984 when she met Sonny. She was celebrating her graduation from the University of Southern California with a girlfriend at his restaurant in Hollywood. He and a buddy took a seat at the table next to them. Sonny asked her to call the following day at 3 p.m., but she didn't.

"I told myself, 'I'm not going to call him and be some star chaser,' " she recalls. "So he called me at about 3:10 and asked me why I didn't call him."

There was a big gap in age -- 22 to 49 -- but not one in communication. They were married in February 1986.

"We could talk for hours. By about midsummer, we were seriously dating," she says. "When I told my parents I was dating him, my father's exact words were, 'Good God, Mary, be careful.' My parents fell in love with him and worked on all of his campaigns."

Congresswoman Mary Bono contemplates her golf game, and the prospect of statewide office.