A New Appreciation For PGA Tour Players
The PGA Tour is heading to Marana, AZ this week for the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship. The tournament will feature 64 of the top 67 players in the world.
In my mind, it’s the first tournament of the year to get really excited about. The format is unique, almost all of the world’s top players enter, and you can fill out a bracket.
That’s right: Bracketology no longer applies to just March Madness.
Less than two months ago I was able to play Dove Mountain (the course where the tournament is held), and it gave me a new respect for how good PGA Tour golfers are. In fact, the PGA Tour’s slogan is “these guys are good,” but it’s hard to comprehend how good because it’s often tough to judge how difficult the course and conditions are when you're sitting in front of the TV.
I walked up to the first tee feeling as good about my game as possible...considering it was December and I live in Wyoming. The harsh reality struck quickly, that if you hit a bad shot you were going to be penalized.
And I’m not talking about pull-hooking a driver at your local municipal course where you can walk over to another hole’s fairway and play a shot. I’m talking about missing a drive a little bit and being lucky to find your ball.
If you do hit a bad one and want to venture into the desert to look for it, prepare for a hug from some cactus along the way.
Fortunately for myself, for the majority of the day I was hitting my 3-wood as straight as a highway in Nebraska.
The course barely got easier from there.
Even if my ball was to find the short grass, I probably averaged a 6-iron into the green, with any sort of miss meaning at least a bogey. Any sort of miss left, right, or long meant some sort of downhill, side hill, or-- if you were lucky--uphill lie to a pin that was at the most 15 feet away from the edge of the green.
...I’ve seen fewer tiers in a theatre playing The Notebook. Every 10-15 feet it seemed like there was a 6-15’’ elevation change. What did that mean? Well, if you wanted a makeable putt, whether for birdie, par, or the unfortunate “other” on the scorecard, you had to be within 15 feet of the hole. And if you weren’t, that meant you had a tough putt over some kind of hill, just to get the ball semi-close to the cup.
Now repeat the last three paragraphs 17 more times, and you start to get an understanding of how difficult the course was.
So why did the PGA Tour decide to move the tournament to Dove Mountain in 2009? So the pros could make more birdies. That’s right, by PGA Tour standards, it’s not even difficult.
I walked off the 18th green with a whole new appreciation for the PGA Tour pros. You simply can’t hit a bad shot on that course. Combine that with the pressure from the millions of dollars are on the line each week along with the millions of people watching, and you only start to gain an understanding of how good these guys are.
So if you’re watching the tournament this week, and you see a player hitting from the desert, or making a “poor” shot, keep in mind that was probably a product of the course, rather than the player.