The last two weeks of September were an exciting time for golf. The Ryder Cup was held in Kentucky and then the top pros were in Atlanta for the Tour Championship. I am still smiling. I love it!
Throughout the year, many of you watch the PGA, LPGA, Champions Tour and the Nationwide Tour on the weekends. We sit in amazement admiring how good these players are on the golf course. Yes, these players are great. I believe watching a tour event or even playing with a lower handicap player can help your game. As many of you know, the American team was very much the underdog at the Ryder Cup. Without the number one player in the world on our team, how were we going to beat the Europeans? The American Capitan Paul Azinger was awesome. He told the guys to go out there and have fun and play "your" game. He told them they all played hard all year to get on the team so now show the Europeans what you can do. The words "have fun" really stick out in my mind. Now I know having fun is hard to do when you are not playing well. When watching a tournament observe how a tour player will never hit a shot without a pre-shot routine, they take practice swings, they focus in on alignment, they check the wind, and they look at the break of the putts. Having a clear mind, a positive attitude, realistic expectations, enjoying yourself, and not working on your swing on the golf course can lead to great things. Kind of like being the underdogs and winning big!
If you didn't make it down to Atlanta for the PGA Tour Championship you really missed out. It's a great tournament and an up close and personal way to see the Top 30 pros in the country. I went to the tournament for two days with another pro from California. We watched the pros warm up on the range, practice putting and bunker shots, and then we watched them take it to the course. Most of their warm up time was spent on the short game area. There is a saying in golf, "You drive for show and you putt for dough." The Ryder Cup team and Camilo Villegas, The Tour Championship winner, both won by making those putts. And Anthony Kim lost the tournament because of a poor short game. They are human just like you and me. Anthony Kim "chunked" a chip on the 14th hole and left one really short on the 15th hole for birdie. No, he didn't make the putt. He lost the tournament by 1 stroke. Ouch!
So as you can see, on any single day even the best players in the world can falter. But one thing they take out of it is what they need to improve on. I guarantee Anthony Kim was working on his chipping over the next day or so. We all want to hit the ball farther and straighter, but yet we forget the fact that our putter accounts for the most strokes of any club in the bag. We use it on 18 holes unless we get that one chip or pitch to fall. What I want each of you to take out of this is, to see that golf is not a game you can be perfect in. The players who win however, are the players who miss it better. Ben Hogan said, "I learn something new about the game almost every time I step onto the course." Golf is one thing that I will always continue to keep learning and loving. How about you?
Karen Nicoletti, Reynolds Golf Academy
Lead Staff Instructor