Of Late, Golf Is Great Because ...
1. I played 18 holes in three hours last night…teed off at 5:15 and finished around 8:30. The front nine took about 1 hour, 15 minutes…just as I came up to nine green, a foursome snuck out ahead of me on ten and held me up the entire inward half. Keep in mind that I played two balls from the tips, finishing with 79 (Titleist Pro V1) and 81 (Taylormade Penta.) I came away with fond rememberances of my youth, when my folks would wait in the parking lot while I finished 18 or 36 or 54 holes in the gloaming. I came away, too, with great interest in the new Taylormade ball…it held its own against the Pro V1 and but for some shoddy putting, would have matched the Titleist stroke for stroke.
2. I made final cuts for the boys high school team I coach and recalled that coaching is an inexact art. Some will have you cut the older kids and keep the younger ones, hoping to have more time to develop talent. Other, more sagacious observers will remind you that allowing the older kids a spot on the team lets the younger ones know that they do have the opportunity to improve and make the team as juniors and seniors. Not being an early bloomer myself, I tended toward the latter and let the younger, inexperienced ones know that, yes, they do have time.
3. Could there be a better script for today’s final round of the Johnnie Walker on the European Tour than the Molinari Brothers? If we are fortunate, they will battle to the wire and Captain Montgomery will realize the magic that the two will bring to the European side of the Ryder Cup. I don’t know of another time when brothers or sisters (ooops, the Maguire girls on the Ireland & Great Britain side of the Curtis Cup in 2010) played together in international team competition. Probably have to go back to the 1950s for some brothers from Texas or something.
4. All personal elements aside, this second and unexpected chapter in the professional golfing life of Tiger Woods may well become more memorable than the first. Remember that he came to the majority of us as the wunderkind, the prodigy, nearly polished, then lived up to that prediction, improving and winning and improving some more and winning some more. Now, however, he is more like us than ever before. Yes, he can still beat Alex Miceli seven days a week, but he hits the stinkers and we empathize with that. He shoots the 64 one day and the 74 the next. Our compassion and hope for his game remain.
5. Amino Vital, Sweetwood hickory golf club, Kikkor golf shoes and lids, Antigua golf shirts and numerous other products I’ve utilized this year. Golfers ask me “is this any good?” and I can honestly count on my thumbs the number of products I’ve said “uh-uh” to. Research and development are making the game more enjoyable for all of us, regardless of what the USGA wants for the top players.
6. Longaberger, Royal New Kent, Kinloch, Stonehouse, Kiskiack, Timber Banks, Cornell, Ballyhack, River Oaks, Transit Valley, Golden Horseshoe Green and Gold, Seneca Hickory Stick, Phoenix (ohio) Golf Links, Brierwood…the courses I’ve had the opportunity to play this year, public and private alike, remind me how fortunate golfers are to have these as our playgrounds. An alley is an alley, a court is a court, and a pitch is a pitch. The same cannot be said about a golf course. And, if you’re fortunate to live in an area of the world where seasons change, spring golf is not summer golf is not fall golf. I personally cannot wait for those leaves!
7. If you’ve enjoyed the Old White at the Greenbrier Classic, Ridgewood at the Barclays, Sedgefield at the Wyndham, Oakmont at the Women’s Open, you might be a fan of classic golf course architecture. I like a Fazio, a Trent Jones Junior, a Dye, a Hills or a Nicklaus as much as anyone. These are the modern, maximist architects, the ones whose golf courses blow your senses and sometimes, your scorecard, away. If you’ve heard of Ross, Tillinghast, Travis, MacDonald, Raynor, Banks and others of late, you might also have heard of Lester George, Gil Hanse, Bill Coore, Tom Doak and Ian Andrew. Take a tour of my favorite online interactive golfing forum, Golf Club Atlas. Visit golfclubatlas.com and click on the “discussion group” tab. Read a few of the threads to see how manic this crew is. You’ll learn quite a bit. Then, visit the “courses by country” tab to read some fine golf course summaries by the site co-owner.
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