With tongue firmly in cheek, we take a look at a few off-beat reasons golf is so much easier for those professionals on the big tours.
This article originally appeared in the January 2015 issue of Inside Golf where Michael Green writes a monthly column.
Summer in Australia brings with it the big three Australian tournaments. The Australian Open, the Australian Masters and the Australian PGA Championship were a nice reminder how just how different ‘their’ golf game is from mine – and perhaps yours.
Aside from skill, flexibility and talent – there are other aspects about the world of big-time professional golf that makes the game much easier for them than it is for us hackers.
Grandstands, signage and all those free drops
There are places I hit the ball on the golf course that weren’t designed to be played from. In fact, they are exactly the sort of places where grandstands, corporate tents or toilet blocks would be constructed for professional golf tournaments. Had I been playing on the professional golf tours, I would have been allowed a free drop. Occasionally I would be directed towards a designated drop zone with an easy pitch on to the green.
But confined to the world of hacking, amateur golf – I have to play these shots as they lie. From deep rough, behind trees and from places few humans have ever stepped foot before.
Professional golfers get it good. The golf courses they play may be long, but they are impeccable. Lush fairways, perfect greens and bunkers full of hand-picked grains of sand – these golfers have no idea what we have to put up with.
Can you imagine their reaction if they were the tees weren’t quite level? Or there is a temporary green on the 7th? Sure, they can make great putts on the slopes of Augusta National, but can they make a putt across a nasty break when the greens have just been cored?
These guys play with the best golf clubs with the best shafts and the best grips. They’re all personally fitted for them and any problems can be quickly solved in the nearby tour van. The world of dirty grooves, slippery grips and golf bags full of old chocolate bar wrappers that we occupy is a foreign place to the pros.
Granted, it’s a small percentage of professional golfers who play in front of big crowds, but those that do often use them to their advantage. Arnold Palmer was considered a golfing god in his prime and had a fervent, raucous bunch of followers known as “Arnie’s Army”.
It’s no secret that Palmer got a few lucky ‘bounces’ off some of his adoring soldiers that put him in a much better position than he otherwise would have been.
It’s rumoured that Tiger Woods was also the beneficiary from a foot wedge or two when he was unbeatable but these are just examples of when the galleries were knowing participants.
Many golfers have been positively (and negatively) affected by a bounce off a member of the gallery. It’s surprising that more golf fans haven’t been hurt by wayward golf balls.
Greg Chalmers benefited greatly from a poor tee shot at the 2014 Australian Open. He sliced tee shot that bounced off a golf fan only to roll to a foot from the hole. The resulting birdie put him clear at the top of the leaderboard.
No lost balls
By and large, the pros don’t lose golf balls. Primarily because they are so good at golf, but also because the galleries help them find it.
There has been the odd lost ball in major tournament golf. Tiger Woods lost his opening drive at The Open in 2003 and Gary Evans lost his ball, and The Open Championship on the 71st hole in 2003, but it would be nice to have an extra 50 people looking for your golf ball each time you played it into the scrub.