Friday, April 06, 2007

It Looks Like A Mirac...It's In The Hole!

It's Masters week.

I came home from work yesterday and today and flipped over to the USA Network's coverage before I did anything else...before I took off my shoes, even before I checked my e-mail! This is serious stuff.

Yes, I'm talking about golf. The Masters is as important to me as the Super Bowl. More important than March Madness, way more important than the World Series, far surpassing the NBA Finals. Golf ranks a close second on my list of favorite spectator sports, behind only football.

When I come home from work during the first two days of a major golf tournament, I get a little twitchy while I wait to see where Phil Mickelson is on the leaderboard...or if he's even on it! This year...he's a few shots further back than I'd like him to be, but at least he's around for the weekend. He's seven shots behind the leaders, so there's hope, but somethin' really cool's gotta happen for him to get into contention.

Of golf's four majors, I love The Masters most. The history, the reverence with which the announcers use every word they speak, the immaculately manicured landscapes, the crystal white sand in the bunkers, the way almost everything on the grounds has a name: Hogan Bridge, Butler Cabin, Amen Corner, Rae's Creek, Sarazen Bridge, Magnolia Lane, Nelson Bridge, the Several Landmarks Eventually To Be Named After Tiger. (Woods' Woods, perhaps?)

As cliché as it sounds, every inch of Augusta National Golf Club is as close to hallowed ground as it gets. Someday, I'd like to say I've been lucky enough to visit and walk the galleries, and see the great tradition that is The Masters.

If given the opportunity to play the course someday (don't'll never happen), I don't know if I could accept. I'd be too afraid of bruising it, or leaving it permanently scarred with my golf *ahem* style. *ahem* While the pros have a fade and a draw and a punch and a bump-and-run, I've got.........a duff. And a hack. And a "kindly deposit your putter in the drink after rolling that three-footer two feet past" putting stroke.

— • — • —

Time to go off on a tangent. I know this started out as a post about The Masters, but now we're moving on to the PGA Championship, because I've got photos!

In August 2004, the biggest names in golf descended upon tiny Haven, Wisconsin, (or Kohler if you want to give ultra-cool guy and big-wig owner Herb Kohler some free pub) to play one of the four biggies at Whistling Straits. Not wanting to miss the opportunity, I bought a week pass to go see the superheroes of golf teeing it up just a hop, skip and a half-hour drive away from my own backyard.

Monday through Wednesday were practice rounds, where autograph hounds could hound all they wanted, and amateur photogs could click their shutters. I snapped more than 330 shots in those three days with the hopes that I'd get one or two worth saving.

And then Thursday through Sunday, things got a lot more serious. No cameras, no yelling, "you da maaan!" until after the golfers had hit the ball...they were playing for real, and keeping score and everything! Electric stuff. (Yes, I just used the word "electric" to describe a golf tournament. Shut up.)

I logged more miles and walked more hills during that week than I thought I would, and it was so worth it. Can't wait to do it all again. (see next paragraph.)

Wanna know how well our fair state did in hosting such a monumental event? Well, the U.S. Senior Open is playing here in July, and the PGA Championship is coming back in 2010 and 2015. And pending the availability of enough hotel rooms, the Ryder Cup matches are coming here in 2020.

Northeastern Wisconsin. Golf mecca of the world. (and I'm only half joking when I write that. there are some very impressive, very serious golf courses in this area. courses that would require me to surrender an entire week's paycheck just to step onto the first tee. that serious.)

The shot of the Augusta National Golf Club flag up above is obviously not one of my photos, because I haven't been there. Yet. But the pics below are from the 2004 PGA.

No wonder I suck at golf. My follow-through doesn't look like Trevor Immelman's!

The! 618 yards? That's a par-14 for me, and I'd still shoot double-bogey.

The odd cross-shaped 18th green.

My favorite photo of the week. Phil Mickelson practicing his chipping.

Yes, I took some time to follow Tiger. No, he wasn't the focus of my week.

This is the freakin' clubhouse! Do you think Herbie did it up right??

Players raved about the course layout and the challenge it posed.

Phil's got some fans.

Are you getting tired of golf photos yet?

Long John Daly. He gripped it...and ripped it.

OK, fine...I'll stop now.

There's just something magical about a gorgeous golf course. I'd rather shoot a 53 on a course that looks like a work of art created with earth movers and bulldozers than have a chance to shoot a 43 on a wide open course that's got the occasional tree and shrubbery.

I watch golf. On TV. And in person.
And I love it.

(comments are enabled, as always, and I put on my extra-thick skin before I published this post. give me your best shot.)

"It took me seventeen years to get
three thousand hits in baseball.
I did it in one afternoon on the golf course."
—Hank Aaron

1 comment:

  1. Man, I so can't relate. I put golf right up there with coffee and bottled water. I just don't get it.