Here’s a novel idea, golf is hard. And the more I understand the game the more I realize that there are people who know more about this game than I do. I have recently taken my obsession to a higher level by watching more golf to see what I can learn from the pros. And I have surprised myself by enjoying the Golf Channel on cable. During the Farmer’s Union tournament I saw some amazing golf. Bubba Watson obviously deserves note for the giant drives averaging just over 315 yards, but it was the way he shaped those drives that impressed me. He loves to curve them around the fairway. We all know that the longer you drive the more dangerous it can be. I belted out a couple over 300 in my last round (Yes, I love talking about them! One of my main problems with golf is that I love to look good, not play well!) but only one of them was in a place where I could make good use of it, the second one was only one inch outside of the OB with a tree in front and ruined any chance I had of making the par five green in two. But Bubba, he shapes the drive along the fairway…and why? Because he practices. So lesson number one is practice. Sound simple but how many of us actually practice? Lesson number two I learnt partly from Bubba (though it pains me to admit I learnt something from a guy named “Bubba”) but mainly from the runner up Phil Mickelson. They both made great shots that they had clearly thought about and planned but in losing at the Farmers (begs another question, just how did second place ever become “losing”? If I got second at this kind of tournament I would be buying beers for everybody I know for the rest of my life). Anyway…in “losing” Phil taught me one of the greatest lessons I will ever learn about golf; he knew what he had to do for that last shot and tried to make it happen. He was two shots down on the last hole and needed an Eagle to force a play-off. His drive got him to 72 yards from the pin and he knew that he needed to chip in for the play off against Bubba. He took his time, walked up and down to the pin and DECIDED what shot he was going to play. His beautifully judged shot landed six feet from the pin and spun back to within three feet just stopping short of an incredible play-off…and at the same time got my vote for shot of the day. If it had gone in it would have been a miracle but the fact that it was so close was entirely up to Phil and his decision to play THAT shot. So often with us ordinary golfers we just have a swing at the ball without really knowing what we are going to do with it, but he KNEW what he wanted to do…and damn near pulled it off. That is greatness, as great as any miracle shot I have ever seen, as great as any “Tiger” moment. It was the runner up in this tournament that got my vote for greatest player. Deliberately hitting a 72 yard shot for eagle to get play off only to miss by the difference between luck and skill. Awesome.
And he seems like a nice guy too. Stopping earlier in the round to sign a glove for a guy that he just hit on the full with a wayward drive. I can remember hitting a few wayward drives and basically just ducking my head in shame…maybe next time I will sign a glove and apologize…do you think “The Steve” on a golf glove will go for anything on eBay?