A Florida Story
Last week, only 19 of the 144 players at the Honda Classic Tournament broke par on the first day. The tournament is played at the PGA National course in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
About 30 years ago I played at PGA National, and after the round ran into an old friend. This old friend and I had played many rounds together while in our early 20’s. We had been at about the same level and played for beers – intense matches that basically broke even.
So here we were about 10 years later … and he’d just finished his first year on the PGA Tour. I couldn’t believe it – how did he get so good? What happened? Well, I was about to find out – he invited me to play the next morning.
I remembered everything about his swing. He had a strong grip and swayed off the ball while he lifted the club to the top of his backswing – not exactly your classic swing. So, as he stepped to his first shot, I could see that he’d made changes. His grip was now neutral and his posture was perfect. But then, he took a few waggles, and his grip slipped back into his old style, he swayed off the ball and lifted the club back to the top of backswing … huh!
Well, after a few holes it became pretty clear what had happened – he’d developed an amazing short game. He didn’t hit the ball that great, but his wedge play was ridiculous. He was aiming for areas of the green to spin the ball to the pin – and he was doing it. And he could putt – he could really putt.
That day was not lovely Florida weather. It was cold, windy, and rainy … really nasty. And he broke par. He was like one of those 19 guys who broke par last week – maybe not pretty … but effective.
Bad weather is good for the guys with the great short games. If no one is hitting greens – they’ll win. My buddy never lasted on the Tour – the rest of his game wasn’t good enough – but his short game got him to the big time … at least for awhile.
GM and Head Golf Professional