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!
I’m probably going to tick a few people off with my following comments but you can’t fix what isn’t broken. I stumbled across a Twitter discussion the other day that got the two of the three brain cells in my cranium activated. The reason only two cells is because the 3rd is in charge of keeping my heart beating and lungs pumping air, but I digress. The question:
“How can we golf fix the wage gap between the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour?”
LPGA star Stacey Lewis in a recent Golf.com piece laments the pay gap:
“It’s pretty frustrating to still see the huge gap in what the guys are paid and we are paid, you know. When really we are doing the same thing and the only difference is the TV numbers and the TV ratings. That’s really it. We’re probably actually hitting more fairways than the guys and more greens than the guys, you know. There’s certain parts of the game we actually do better. Um, you know when I play with the guys a lot they’re like ‘do you ever miss a fairway?’ That’s usually what they say to me so, I mean, our games are pretty comparable so it’s just the exposure.”
My first reaction to the stats argument is that I know a guy who golfs every day and is 80 years old. He’s practically deaf and can barely see. I’ve NEVER seen this guy miss a fairway. He hits his driver about 100 yards and dead straight every time. He should be making $10 million a year! Think back to when Tiger Woods was dominating professional golf. His driving accuracy was terrible, barring a few stretches where it was just mediocre. But he could hit recovery shots nobody else could. He made the putts when he had to at the most dramatic times. It was golf entertainment at a level which had probably never been higher and may never be again.
How does TaylorMade market their drivers? The number one thing they’ll hit potential buyers with is distance. Sure they’ll mention accuracy as a side note but really, the buyer doesn’t seem to care that much. It’s about distance, power… It’s not about fairways hit or who hits the most greens in regulation. Otherwise Fred Funk would have been Tiger Woods. From a fan standpoint it’s about entertainment. All due respect to Fred Funk, I’d rather watch Tiger or Rory McIlory, Jason Day. That said, when Fred Funk won THE PLAYERS (always spell that in ALL CAPS. It’s what they do), his funky chicken dance was very entertaining.
Lewis says that if the women simply got more exposure they would become as popular as the men. Uh, no. I rarely watch professional golf anymore, but if I do, I want to watch the best, most exciting golfers on the planet. Those golfers are Rory McIlory, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth… You get it. Sure the LPGA players are talented and such, I’m not arguing that point.
When it boils down to nuts and bolts the LPGA Tour and PGA Tour are forms of entertainment, just like the NBA. The salaries of professional golfers are paid by the fans who either support the advertisers for events, or support the players’ sponsors. The players who draw the most attention naturally are the ones who can draw the biggest paychecks in the form of prize money and endorsements, like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlory, and so on. The men are obviously more entertaining to the general public than the women are, and therefore draw more revenue. The general public doesn’t care about fairway percentage or greens in regulation or the LPGA Tour would have surpassed the PGA Tour in viewership long ago.
Pro golf is not an industry like my day job doing web development. If I have a set of specific web development skills which are the same as a female web developer then it is certainly unfair that on average she would make 78 cents compared to every dollar I make. That is completely unfair and not right. But pro golf isn’t web development. It’s not managing a Subway. It’s not asset management or working at a bank or doing sales or flying an airplane. It’s an entertainment industry. In such an industry the money is driven by viewers.
Arguing for gender equity in professional golf is an argument that will never win. If the LPGA was truly as entertaining as the PGA Tour, it would have already established itself as an equal in viewership and sponsor dollars. It’s not and it never will be.
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
Time to resurrect the HOG bonehead of the week award. This one goes to whoever made the name labels for the caddie bibs at the Cadillac Championship.
Who is this McLLroy guy? Never heard of him.