Road Hole Shorts

Golf Design, golf, golf, GOLF

Guest commentary: The pro game is the high life

By Mary Armstrong/For the Sun-News
Posted: 01/14/2011 12:00:00 AM MST

Out of a typical tournament field of 144 players, ordinarily less than half will score under par.

If you are watching on TV you won’t see those other 70 players unless of course their name is Tiger Woods. Most telecasts you probably don’t see more than 10 players hit meaningful shots. I sometimes think that we get an elevated notion of how good these guys are because we only get to see the players that are doing really well. We don’t get to see the skulled bunker shots, four putts and fat approaches.

Certainly these guys and women on the LPGA are the best in the world, but how much of their ability is attributable to the superfluities of the tour? Everything is done for these guys, especially if they have been successful. Oh the travel, the being away from home half the year…give me a break. These guys don’t know what it’s like to make their own travel arrangements. What are agents for?

Then there’s the “coddling factor.” These guys are so spoiled. They have perfect conditions: no divots, only a few flawlessly repaired ball marks, bunkers that are consistent and impeccably smooth, roughs that are trampled down, hole placements that are always fair, and few in-play out of bounds. Add that there are at least three and sometimes hundreds of sets eyes watching every shot, all the time they want to warm up and practice, a coach, a caddy that gives you exact yardage and pulls you back off the ledge when you three putt from 8 feet, and an equipment rep to make sure you have everything you need and…well you get the picture.

When was the last time you saw a tour pro hit from a divot where only half the ball was visible…or lost a ball? Usually when they say “he’s in a divot” it’s a sand-filled divot. Galleries are almost always depicted by the talking heads as being in the way, but when they aren’t trampling down the rough they’re blocking errant shots from real trouble or pointing out where Joe Blow Pro hit his duck hook. Heck once in a while they kick the ball back into play what I wouldn’t give for some fans to help me out on one of those wild pull hooks I hit once occasionally.

Nonetheless, they are still the best and I’m not trying to take that away from anyone. I’m only saying that there are a bunch of people that could do the same if they could find a way to devote themselves to golf and play the same conditions. There’s probably at least a few locals that can tee it up without any warm up or fine tuning on the practice green and shoot a smooth even-par.

Some of you might be thinking that the pros have to deal with a lot of pressure. Well, yeah, I suppose I have to hand you that one although I remember Lee Trevino saying once that you don’t know pressure until you’re playing for $10 when you don’t have a dime in your pocket.

Perhaps if you gave one of our local scratch players the same “privileges” he or she might do just as well. I had the joy of playing with Ryan Rios before he took an assistant professional job back east. We went right from the car to the first tee and he shot one-under from the blacks at Sonoma. That kid can hit it if he didn’t waste his time trying to help hackers quit hacking he might make the tour but that’s the irony of professional golf. If you want to be a really good golfer don’t become a pro sell insurance.

A golf architect in New Hampshire for over 20 years, Armstrong brought her craft to Las Cruces in January 2010. She is the founder of Armstrong Golf Architects, which provides planning, designing, permitting and construction monitoring services for golf course projects. You can comment on her writing and view past articles at her blog:


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