Once you’ve been to the Masters Tournament, even the practice rounds, you have memories for a lifetime. Here’s one that I vividly remember.
A couple of years ago I was at a Masters practice round and had the opportunity to follow around a very interesting grouping, Rory McIlory and Tom Watson. It was fun to watch the interaction between the two. Watson was helping McIlory out with tips on the golf course, and likely on life. He’s just that way.
Since it was a practice round, the players would often hit a few shots or several putts from one location. Most players know most of the pin placements so on their approaches they might hit a couple of shots to where they imagine the pins will be. On the greens they’ll putt to those same imaginary places, like lower right on the par-5 2nd (can you say Louis Oosthuizen?).
On the par-4 9th I got a fantastic vantage point to watch Tom and Rory approach the green. See the picture in this post of Rory. For those who have not been to Augusta in person, you have no idea how much elevation change there is. The 9th green is incredibly slanted from back to front. So much so, I think I’d fall down if I tried to walk down it. Watch the players during the tournament hit their approaches. The second they hit it they might get mad because they know they put it in the wrong place and the slope of the green will cause the ball to go to a very bad position.
One such bad position would be a shot which goes long. Chipping from the back of the 9th green would be a nightmare. I’d bet wads of cash that an amateur golfer could not chip a ball onto the 9th from above the green, and keep his chip on the green. It’s THAT steep.
During their practice round McIlroy walked right up in front of me and dropped about 8-10 golf balls off the back of the green. I watched in absolute amazement as he clipped those balls so crisply that they would land on the back fringe and actually check, before slowly moving to a tightly dispersed spacing. Imagine chipping from a downslope onto a downslope on greens that are probably running a 14+ on the stimpmeter. I could have sat there with 50 balls and never hit one that perfectly. I’d probably be hitting gap wedge back up to the surface for my next shot.
Tom Watson took notice too. He stopped his chipping practice and just watched. Rory didn’t know Tom was watching.
When Rory moved to another place to practice some chips or putts, Tom grabbed his caddie and pointed him to the back of the 9th green, right where Rory had been hitting those little crisp chips. He threw down about 8-10 balls. Tom Watson is one of the best around the greens in the history of the game. He wanted to see if he could replicate what Rory had been doing.
I watched Tom hit ball after ball. Some ended up in the middle of the green and some off the front and down the hill. The dispersion was massive. None of the balls ended up at the top of the green like Rory’s. Tom looked at the green, the balls, Rory… he then shrugged his shoulders and moved on.
Hooked On Golf Blog and The Golf Space and are partnering with MMO Golf to provide a fun Masters pin flag giveaway for patrons of HOG and TGS! Click the image below to go to the giveaway.
Post your top five picks in the contest thread at The Golf Space’s forum
. The order does not matter. The prize money for all players will be added and the contestant whose 5-team roster amasses the most prize money will win a Masters Flag from MMO Golf!
Just heard the news that Arnold Palmer will not be participating in the ceremonial tee shot to open this year’s Masters Tournament. This is because of a shoulder injury he suffered in 2014 apparently.
I hope Mr. Palmer is able to come back for the 2017 Masters. I don’t see the Masters Tournament putting anyone in Arnie’s place, so I anticipate just seeing Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus hitting opening tee shots.
Arnold Palmer Now Driving
Anything interesting happen in professional golf over the last few weeks? Actually, I wouldn’t know much other than Jordan Spieth set the record for most prize money ever, at somewhere around $22 million. He won the
FedEx Cup Reset Cup. When I saw him play as an amateur at the age of 16 (picture) I was sure he was amazing, but had no idea anyone could rake in that kind of dough in prize money in one year.
Yes, a great year. Player of the year for sure. I have/had no interest in the Reset Cup.
Recently Comcast, or as I like to call them “Crapcast,” doubled my TV bill. That was the deciding factor in my cutting the cable and going to NO TV. None. No golf. Nothing. It has been quite nice.
Though I’ve attended and covered many professional “tour” events, I find it quite uninteresting to watch other people play golf, as good as they may be. I’ve watched many greats up close and personal including Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Jordan Spieth, Fred Couples, Rory McIlroy, Chi Chi Rodriguez, John Duval (I know what I’m typing), Lee Trevino…. dozens of others.
The pros are great but after I watch them hit a few shots in person I realize one thing:
I’d rather play golf than watch other people play it.
There are some occasions where that’s not the case. The Masters? I’d rather watch it. British Open? Watch it. U.S. Open? Maybe. PGA Championship? Meh. Presidents Cup? Not interested. Ryder Cup? Okay, I watch that…
Where am I going with this drivel? This is a blog. I don’t have to go anywhere. As much as I’ve struggled this year with my game and my attitude, I’ve not watched much golf nor played as much. My last round, one of those nuggets the golf gods throw struggling golfers, might keep me in the game for a bit. Even par. Kind of like making a blackjack on the last hand in Vegas, that round will get me coming back, but golf hasn’t fooled me this time.
Naturally the press has gone into a complete Spiethgasm. Let’s face it, we haven’t see a player this good since Tiger Woods and the numbers prove it. By his 22nd birthday yesterday, Spieth had racked up five PGA Tour wins including two majors, the 2015 Masters and the 2015 U.S. Open. He’s already a lock for PGA Tour Player of the Year. When Tiger Woods was 22, he had six victories to his name, but only one major championship, the 1997 Masters.
For 15 years we’ve countlessly read and heard the nauseatingly repetitive debate in the press and on social media as to whether or not Tiger Woods would break Jack Nicklaus’s major championship record of 18. Woods has been sitting on 14 since 2008 and there is no part of his current game which would lead us to believe he will win even one more, let alone five more.
So the discussion has moved to Speith. At this early age he is already one major ahead of Tiger and unfortunately, that same discussion has begun: “Will Jordan Spieth break Jack Nicklaus’s major championship record?” Puhlease. Let’s not put the golf cart in front of the golfer. Even if he won two majors every year it would take him eight more years to tie Jack. So many things could happen between now and 18 majors for Spieth.
In my sick and twisted mind I thought it would be great to produce a top ten list of ways Spieth could guarantee failing to break Jack’s record. Someone had to do it. But 10 wasn’t enough.
Drumroll please… Top 15 ways Jordan Spieth can guarantee failing to break Jack Nicklaus’s major championship record:
#15: Retire early
#14: Baseline shifts
#13: Switch to an inferior golf club sponsor
#12: Unhealthy love affairs… with launch monitors
#11: Drop F-Bombs in front of small children
#10: Trash his body
#9: Treat the press and fans like crap
#8: Become a PR and brand puppet
#7: Become “Ranger Rick,” hitting flawless and perfect golf shots on the range but not being able to take them to the course
#6: Focus too much on “release patterns” and not enough on knocking a golf ball in the hole
#5: Focus too much on “traj” and not enough on knocking a golf ball in the hole
#4: Focus too much on “spin rates” and not enough on knocking a golf ball in the hole
#3: Fire swing coach and hire new one. Break swing down completely and rebuild it from scratch to “get better”
#2: Fire new swing coach and hire a newer one. Break swing down completely and rebuild it from scratch to get better… again.
#1: Fail to activate glutes