Gotta love this job! Assignment: Watch 5 of the world’s best golfers in match play over 2 days (9 holes per day) on one of the top ranked new courses on the planet. I get a media pass that among other media centre privileges, allows some up close and personal – especially at the press conferences following each event.
When you attend an event like this, you expect to see some brilliant golf shots, and today was no exception. John Daly pounded out the longest drives, although all competitors were hitting 350 or so. Daly made the green, pin high, on the 2nd, and all the others were only short iron pitches away. The distance? – A mere 395 yards. Spectacular golf!
This article is intended to be a conversation with my fellow average golfers. We don’t play like these guys do – but we dream about it. Our love for the game is the perpetual pursuit of perfection. It is said that only about 10% of us play consistently under 100, and only 1/10th of 1% play a scratch game. It’s no wonder we turn out in the thousands to watch the pros show us how good one can get – you only have to practice and play all the time. Sounds like a job doesn’t it? It was fun watching these 5 stars of the sport work/play/work/play for a couple of hours. If you enjoy your work, you get good at it, and as you get good at it, you enjoy it.
The competitors are: Stephen Ames, Canada. (May I call you Mr. Amesmiable?) Stephen is a very amiable guy – he kibitzes with his fellow competitors and with the gallery. He was fresh off the US Open (where he did very well) and was obviously enjoying the congenial and relaxed atmosphere of this skins tournament. John Daly, USA. (Why does a Bad Boy commercial come to mind when I see this guy?). He hits the ball a ton and plays a competitive round of golf. When asked at the press conference why he has become so attractive to such a large following his answer started with “it sure ain’t my good looks”. Colin Montgomery, Scotland. I am a fan of this golfer. He is a genuine, unpretentious, Scot. Winner of many titles including 8 Order of Merits (seven consecutive) on the European Tour, and a Ryder Cup star. He was asked about Carnoustie’s readiness for the British Open (the Open) and says “Carnoustie is in very fine condition, and the locals don’t call it ‘Carnasty’ for nothing”. He is happy to be in Canada for the first time. (You picked a great place to start Monty). Retief Goosen, South Africa is currently at about $710,000 in winnings this year – not bad for the first half – and adding golfing flair to this. Geoff Ogilvy of Australia is only 30 and ranks #10 with $1.6 million in earnings so far this year.
OK, back to us average golfers who just love the game and contribute a huge chunk of Canada’s GDP in memberships and green fees…
It was a hot and humid day. As you progressed down the 9th fairway, a gorgeous vista of the open waters of Georgian Bay spread out before you – and this impressed the pros that amidst other complimentary comments about the course, emphasized that beautiful view. (And I have never before seen so many sailboats on Georgian Bay at the same time).
I'd love to give you a stroke-by-stroke commentary, but let’s be satisfied with a few highlights...
- I thought Don Shindle did an excellent job on the mike introducing the event and the players
- Daly’s 395 yd ‘approach shot’ on the 2nd.
- The pre-tee-time drop in temp, darkening of sky and increased wind turned into sunny and hot
- Monty and Daly come out of the sand to the left of the 6th to within 2 ft of each other
- Five tee shots on the 214-yard par 3 7th are inside about a 20 ft radius. Outstanding Golf!
- This is an international battle – and I saw all flags in the gallery (and all 5 stuck into one woman’s golf hat) – Go Canada!
- I had a great position on the 9th tee – up close and personal. Ames was the catalyst for the relaxed fun comments.
- Want a golf tip? – Watch the pros – closely! Best lesson you’ll ever get.
Winners? Daly: 2 skins for $30,000. Ames: 1 for $15,000. Ties shut the other three out, and carried the rest forward. There will be $315,000 up for grabs tomorrow. Stay tuned.
Brian MacDonald is a golf correspondent for www.mycollingwood.ca. He owns and operates MacDonald’s Golf Scotland which designs and manages custom golf vacations to Scotland, Ireland, “New Scotland” (Nova Scotia) and a dozen other international destinations. Golf Scotland is based in Dundee, Scotland. Brian and his wife Nancy live in Collingwood. For more information about Golf Scotland please visit www.golfscotland.com.