It's that week of the year where I host a golf camp for junior players, so not much time to write this week. But one thing I have been thinking about lately...in what era did the best golfers play? I will have a blog up next week with my opinion, but below is a poll. Let me know what you are thinking by taking the survey and feel free to leave comments. Again, sorry for the short post, but it's back to the practice tee with the wee-ones!
Sometimes, getting married has benefits you don’t even anticipate. Rory McIlroy admitted to one Wednesday in his pre-Irish Open press conference.
Let’s circle back two weeks ago to the US Open. Rory had just missed the cut at Erin Hills and Steve Elkington, as he is known to do, offered his unsolicited opinion on Twitter:
Rory is so bored playiing golf…without Tiger the threshold is prolly 4 majors with 100mill in bank — Steve Elkington (@elkpga)
Rory came right back with this response:
More like 200mil… not bad for a “bored” 28 year old … plenty more where that came from--Rory McIlroy (@McilroyRory)
New you were a money guy Jack won 18 and never mentioned his total cash.. It was 5 mill
— Steve Elkington (@elkpga)
More like 200mil… not bad for a "bored" 28 year old… plenty more where that came from.
— Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory)
That's why jack designed 100's of golf courses… and it's knew… mustn't have taught grammar in the 50's….
— Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory)
Yeah you right
Youre the 200 mill guy
— Steve Elkington (@elkpga)
Whoa! You know things are heated when we start going below the grammar belt! Maybe Elk's iPhone autocorrect was just off. Maybe that's what he was taught in Australia. Maybe "new" (knew) is like "G'day" (hello) for Aussies. Anyway...
Twitter is an amazing arena. Never could you imagine, in 140 characters or less, that people can get into such arguments/back and forths…and stupid ones at that. A few weeks ago, I followed some top teachers in the country arguing that you could not tell anything about ball flight from a divot. Today, there was a back and forth on how to make the golf ball stay on the clubface longer, thus influencing the amount of curvature (draw/fade).
In Rory’s case…thank goodness for his new wife Erica. When asked about the Twitter exchange with Elkington, Rory said that his Twitter account password was changed by Erica and she has not revealed the new one to him. He has temporarily banned himself from social media after the online argument. Rory has learned his lesson and Erica will most likely be the one to determine when he can return to the Twitterverse.
Communicating through social media is very easy and there are benefits. However, opinions are numerous and many times from the extremes of logical thinking. So, if you have found yourself needing to take a break from social media because of trolling, feel free to contact Erica McIlroy…she can take care of your account for the time being.
This will be a very special week on the PGA Tour and in the Greenbrier Valley of West Virginia.
Devastating rain and floods washed away the town of White Sulphur Springs and most of the Greenbrier Resort’s golf courses last year around this time. What was usually a beautiful green valley nestled between the mountains became a muddy torrent of water from Howard Creek, as the water from the 10 inches of rain in the area rolled down the mountain sides and collected in the usually calm creek.
The historical rains forced the cancellation of the Greenbrier Classic last year. After the flood waters subsided, the Greenbrier’s TPC Old White Course a mess. Burt Baine, VP of Golf Operations, and his golf staff were shocked at what they saw. Tons of dirt, silt and debris littered the golf course. The sod was contaminated and grass would not grow back, bunkers were nothing more than exposed drainage systems, and trees were uprooted from the flood.
Today, players will arrive back at the Greenbrier for the re-birth of the Old White Course and this year’s Greenbrier Classic. They will see a golf course, while the layout is for the most part the same as the Charles Blair McDonald design it, that has come a through a year-long renovation and restoration to get it ready just for this event. In many ways, the golf course staff had to start from scratch to rebuild the Old White. Green complexes and bunkers had to be totally be built.
The Old White is truly a gem of a design. Only a few PGA Tour events get played on get played on classic old-school designs such as the Old White. It is not a course which one will overpower. Players must plod and plan their way around this 7200 yard, par 70 layout.
The first unique hole the players comes across is the 3rd…the Biarritz Hole. At 200 yards from the back tee, players will hit anything from a 9 iron to a hybrid/fairway wood on this hole. Why is that? The green measures around 70 yards in depth and features a 4 ½ foot deep gully that runs through the middle of the green. The long slender green is surrounded by bunkers. When the pin is located on the back of the green, players will have to fly their long irons all the way to the back tier to avoid having to putt through the gully.
The other par 3 on the front nine if also one of my favorites. The Redan Hole, modeled after the 15th hole at North Berwick in Scotland. Playing as long as 230 yards to the middle, this green slopes from right to left and from front to back. Players must account for release when figuring out what to hit. A large deep bunker protects the left side, making par a challenge if you find your ball there.
The 13th is a difficult par 4. Running along the base of the mountain, it measures 489 yards from the back tee. Avoiding Howard Creek on the left and finding the fairway is imperative. As you come down the fairway and the green comes into view on the right, you will now realize why they call this the ‘Alps’ hole (modeled after a hole at Prestwick in Scotland). A large mound (would be a dune if you on a links course) guards the front right of the green. Mishit your shot or misclub, you can easily find your ball ‘in the mountainside’ guarding the hole. A slick green that runs from back to front also doesn’t make getting a par here easy either.
Very rarely will a course end on a Par 3, but the Old White does. From the tee, it looks very simple and beautiful. With the clubhouse in the background, the 170-yard hole crosses Howard Creek (not coming into play) and sets built into small hillside. It is the green complex which makes this finisher a challenge. With a pronounced hogback running in a horseshoe shape through the green, you must find the right distance to put your ball on the proper tier. If you don’t, especially when the hole is in the front, you will face a difficult two putt.
Having played this course several times, I am looking forward to its rebirth this week. It is a classic gem that I always find enjoyable to play and worthy of its Top 100 ranking in the US.
I was never a Tiger fan. Sure, I admired and respected his immense talent. But I was never a fan. Growing up, I was never a Jack fan. I respected Nicklaus, but I have always tended to root for the underdog, so my golfing idol was (and to this day) Tom Watson. In other sports, I support the Seattle Mariners in baseball, the Seattle Seahawks in American football and Crystal Palace in Premier League football. Again, I respect the Yankees, Patriots and Manchester United, but they aren't the underdogs.
So, as the Quicken Loans National begins this week, Tiger’s event on the PGA Tour, I must admit that I miss Tiger, in the same way I miss Jack.
Rarely do you get to see an athlete perform at their pinnacle. One moment in sports history that I find myself watching every year at least once is Secreatriat’s run as a three-year old horse winning the Triple Crown, culminating with his 30 length win at the Belmont Stakes. Three Triple Crown races, three Triple Crown records (which I believe still stand today).
In my opinion, we will never see another period of dominance in golf like Tiger had. Watson had his run in the late 70’s and early 80’s, but it still doesn't match what Tiger was able to accomplish. Tiger’s execution and shot making on the golf course was unparalleled. Some of his performances were like Secretariat winning the Belmont by 30 lengths (US Open and the Masters). It seemed he never made a poor decision and in many ways, played very conservative golf (hitting stinger 2 irons while Phil and other were blasting drivers into the corporate tents, settling for more 8-15 foot birdie putts than most make in a lifetime rather than trying to stiff every shot). Sure, he was very talented…but his mind and thinking on the golf course was the big difference maker and separating factor from the rest of the field. Nicklaus was the same way.
It is probably true that you do not truly appreciate something great until you don't have it any more. I would love to relive Jack’s seven stroke 1980 PGA Championship win. I would love to experience Tom’s 1980 Open Championship and 1982 US Open wins again. Why? Because they were great performances my great players. I miss being able to witness and respect the greatest players playing at an elite level and being at the top of the game.