Things I know I think has been, at various times, things I think I know, think I think and know I know. The genesis of each column is the wordsmithing of other golf writers, the state of the game and the random causality of things golf. Here are my opinions and interpretations of things currently going on.
Tiger, Tiger, Burning…
Let’s see, the drop at the Masters. The drop at the Players. The pulled club at the Players. The spat with Sergio. I know for certain that, if Tiger never equals Jack Nicklaus’ mark of 18 professional major championships, he will surpass the Golden Bear in ridiculous media histrionics. And this, coming from a guy who wrote an article on why Tiger should have left Augusta on Friday.
Did you know that Venturi kinda sorta got screwed out of two Masters? He played himself out of the first one as an amateur, although the Masters committee kinda sorta paired him not with Byron Nelson (mentor and friend) with whom 3rd-round leaders had routinely played, but with the surly and dour Sam Snead. Perhaps coincidence, perhaps something else. He also lost in 1960 when Arnold “The King” Palmer was given a beneficial ruling (ring a bell?) after a potentially-improper drop that helped him on his way to the jacket.
Ken Venturi was my portal to professional golf. As a lad in the late 1970s and early 1980s, his voice anchored the broadcasts that CBS produced. When NBC or ABC would present a tournament, something seemed wrong. Venturi had his share of detractors and he got quite opionated, from time to time, in his elder days. He was the epitome of the endurance golfer, having survived the 36-hole dehydration march at Congressional in 1964. I suspect that, if that event had not happened, Congressional would have been dropped from the US Open rotation, as it is an uninspired course.
Such was the influence that Venturi had. He might have had more, had the USA focused a bit of attention on his conquering of a youthful stuttering habit. What are the odds that a stutterer makes a second career as a public speaker or announcer?
In 1987, Billy Andrade failed to earn his PGA Tour card out of college and went off to Europe to play the European Tour. I graduated from Wake Forest with him that year and told him (I know that sounds like bragadaccio) that he was much more fortunate than those who would play in the USA. Billy would see Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Spain, Italy, Sweden and many other countries, while his counterparts would see typical USA towns and cities, much like any other.
In 2013, Peter Uihlein, former US Amateur champion and Oklahoma State stalwart, has played the majority of his events on the developmental circuit of the European Tour. On Sunday, he won the Madeira Islands Open in Portugal, elevating his world ranking and giving him increased status on the world’s tours. Although “making it” is defined by membership and success on the PGA Tour, I envy young Peter and others like him, who learn that the world is not made up of resort after resort, modeled after USA beaches and mountains.
Shoot A Personal Best
I tell the male high school golfers that I coach that the best way to start the spring season (when we are not competing) is to work their way back from the forward tees. Go out and play your first round from the shortest yardage and see what you shoot. If you can’t shoot a personal best, some skill will reveal itself to be lacking, giving you a task to resolve on the practice tee. That goes for the rest of us, by the way. I typically play my home course from 7200 yards due to masochistic tendencies. However, if I go up to the 5700 yard tees, I’m cutting 1500 yards off the course, which basically increases my drives 75 yards per hole. Coming into each green with 5 clubs less is simultaneously cool and frightening. Feeling the pressure with another wedge in hand, another shot at birdie? Now you’ll learn about yourself!