2011 PGA Tour Hodgepodge: KJ Choi, the War on Slowplay, Battle for No. 1 & More!
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First, congratulations to K.J. Choi, winner of the 2011 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
I have always been a fan of his, but there's something eerie about spelling "boys" with an "i." I took my son to see a practice round at Sawgrass and bumped into K.J. Choi as he walked to the ninth tee box. He was the very first golfer I spotted. The moment inspired me to post a tweet: "I'm not the type to get star struck, but I was four feet from K.J. Choi hitting driver on No. 9 @ 2011 PLAYERS and it was freakin' awesome!!!"
With that said, I wonder if you are ready for the war in golf brewing on the horizon? It seems the golf world can't argue enough about slow play. There are people that believe high handicappers should be restricted to the driving range. Others feel that players should take proficiency tests before being allowed on the course. Great! Reports show that both the number of people learning to play golf and the number of rounds played yearly is decreasing. In fact, golf courses are closing in this economy at a record pace and a great tournament like the Heritage in South Carolina is having problems finding a title sponsor. Instead of tailgating new players, teach them the etiquette of moving over so faster players can pass.
I would suggest that the golf world forget about battling slow play and new golfers except on tour. I would love to see a "ready golf" tournament. Golfers must remember that new players stimulate the golf economy by purchasing every new training aid that hits the market. New players buy golf books, magazines, videos, clubs, golf balls and lessons from PGA professionals during their mission to improve. New players are the people at the gym from January to March that chat on their cell phone while sitting on equipment. They may be a pain, but their money keeps the gym open.
I remember my first time on a course I shot 75. Unfortunately, the course had nine holes with a par of 36. We all have to start somewhere, right? One tip I suggest to high handicappers is to play with golf balls that you are comfortable losing. I spend more time looking for a four dollar premium golf ball than I do when using one that costs less than fifty cents.
Am I the only person that notices when the golf media flip flops when the same issue arises in multiple leagues. After Lorena Ochoa retired, the LPGA No. 1 ranking bounced among multiple players before being secured by Yani Tseng. Golf media stated that the LPGA needed a clear, dominant player to generate interest in the league. Now the world rankings are shifting in the men's division as Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Luke Donald have opportunities to become the world's No. 1 golfer at any given moment. This time, as Tiger Woods is driving into the sunset, the golf media feels that this is good for golf and will generate interest in the PGA Tour by showcasing new players.
Speaking of the LPGA, am I the only person that chuckles when people complain that the LPGA is populated by too many Asian players. Surveys indicate people believe that an American female needs to win more to generate interest in the LPGA. Oddly enough, the female generally chosen to carry the league on her shoulders is Michelle Wie.
This is a great golfing weekend with events being played on every tour. I highly encourage you to see an event live. My first experience at TPC Sawgrass was unforgettable and definitely won't be my last. I wondered how many tour pros I would recognize without the television graphics and I did quite well. I was also surprised by the number of autographs they give during practice rounds. Finally, the experience cost less than if I had played a round at my local course and a portion of the proceeds helped a local charity. Check out your local golf tournament and enjoy yourself.
Just don't be that guy calling penalties on the players. Nobody likes that guy.
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