The recent welcome rain, and the projected warmer weather over the coming weeks will really help the golf course recover to their best. It’s been a tough start for our hard working greenkeepers, what with the grass enduring last year’s long hot summer, followed by a cold dry winter and early Spring. The prospect of anything growing was as likely as growth on the top of my head !
For the first time in the golfing calendar , we have a major in May with the PGA Championship being held at Bethpage Black GC in New York State. It is actually a municipal course , one of five on a 1400 acre estate (how many mowers would that take?) owned and run by the New York State Department of Parks , Recreation and Historic Preservation. Over here we would just say ‘the council run it‘. The competitors will play the course from tees measuring 7500 yards , although if you fancy playing it there are tees shorter than that, and for around $150 dollars it must be one of the most inexpensive championship layouts to play.
Before booking up do bear in mind the rather stern notice on the first tee, although does any golfer consider themselves anything but highly skilled? Speaking of weather let’s hope it is better than 2009 when the US Open was there, as that June when the event was on, it rained 26 out of 30 days and they had to have a Monday finish.
So to the runners and riders and who the form horses might be. Clearly Tiger Woods will be at the forefront of minds after his amazing win in the Masters. The magnitude of it was incredible, and I think it has affected even him as he hasn’t played professionally since. Having won on Bethpage before, Tiger is the betting favourite along with defending Champion Brooks Koepka. They make up the marquee 3 ball on the first two days with Francesco Molinari and it would take someone of strong conviction not to feel the winner would not come from that group. Well I am that someone and going for Tommy Fleetwood as he has all the major credentials , and will enjoy coming in under the radar, after his high profile week as host of the British Masters on the magnificent Hillside golf course. Have a look at my analysis of Tommy Fleetwoods Swing
It doesn’t get more high profile than having your photo plastered on the side of a bus, and I thought I would include this fun film about how it was done have a look here. He also was out with the green keepers helping fill in divots after round 3 and that is a great example to us all at our own clubs. Even just repairing a couple of pitch marks a hole will help, as we are all in the game together and we need to appreciate the greens staff are the glue that holds our game together.
Understandably Tommy’s challenge faded as the week wore on, however he and the sponsors can be very proud of putting on a superb event with terrific crowds ( it was sold out Saturday) . Up and coming Swedish golfer Marcus Kinhult, had a grandstand finish with birdies on 17 and 18 to pip defending champion Eddie Pepperel, newcomer Robert MacIntyre and Moor Park’s Matt Wallace by a single shot. A fitting end to a great week, and let’s hope the event is on again next year.
Watching top level golf is always good for our games, and next week Brocket Hall are staging a Europro event ( Wednesday through Friday ) and if you get the chance pop along as the standard of play is really good. Mid Herts favourite son Tom Shadbolt will be playing and it would be great if you get the chance to go and support him .
I think whenever you watch good players, things to note are the rhythm in their swings and how unhurried the change from backswing to forward swing is, and this allows the club to pull them through to a finish rather than what we are all tempted to do, which is to hit at the ball rather than flow to a finish. The positive intent around the greens is worth noting too, and a player won’t play the shot until they have a clear focus on where they want the ball to land and visualise the flight required, and all done with light hands. Sadly gripping the club as hard as we can, gritting our teeth and a swing thought of ‘don’t hit it in the b….. bunker’ won’t cut the mustard!
Hope your golf wherever it is, brings you joy and plenty of 3 point holes.
All the best
Fellow of the PGA