Connect with us

Opinion & Analysis

Past, present, and future: Masters week is magical

Published

on

It was 1961 when I watched my first Masters broadcast with my dad on a little black-and-white TV (aluminum foil wrapping the “ears”), and the 16th, 17th, and 18th holes were all CBS covered. A guy named Player was at the top of the leader board, and Arnold Palmer’s name was right under his. As a naive kid of 13 knowing nothing about golf, I thought Arnie was leading because I assumed “Player” was the name of the column and therefore Palmer was at the top of the column!

Anyway, that was 58 years ago and I have not missed a Masters since. As a PGA member, I’ve been fortunate to attend the event several times, but other than those years, I have always arranged my weekend schedule to be sitting in front a TV screen from Holy Thursday to Masters Sunday.

This week, I won’t get any older (I’m actually 70 weeks younger than my 70 years). Oh, I’m not fearful of aging, or the fact that I’m a lot closer to the 18th green than the first tee, but this week I just kind of doubt the reality of all that. I’m all too aware of how fast this whole thing is going by, but this week it slows down just enough that the inevitable trickles instead of flies. Because now it’s springtime in the valley in Augusta, Georgia, and the annual rite of passage into spring is mercifully upon us.

I’m a big fan of tradition — I’m not afraid to admit it, and in the Masters we have “a tradition unlike any other.” What makes it such a tradition? Well for one, whoever puts this whole thing together has channeled their elders and has had the great sense and the courage to leave the damn thing alone. In this crazy, hectic, chaotic world, I need something, anything, that stops changing every time I look up or turn a page.  As a golfer, that thing is the Masters in April in Augusta.

The grass will be just as green this week, the holes will be cut in the same places they’ve always been, the pimento and cheese sandwiches will still be wrapped in the little green bags and still sell for a buck fifty, the back nine will still decide the winner, “fore, please!” will still be Augusta-speak for play away, there will still be limited commercial messages during the broadcast, 30,000 “patrons” will still walk the hallowed ground each day, the azaleas will be as gorgeous as always, the spirits of Bobby Jones and Cliff Roberts will still come alive, and we all will feel, in the words of Bob Dylan, forever young!

The Crow’s Nest, the Butler Cabin, Rae’s Creek, The Hogan Bridge, Sarazen’s double eagle, Arnie’s Army, the honorary starters… There’s nowhere else we know the players and events, the thrilling victories, the tragic defeats like we do at Augusta. Everyone is familiar with everything because it stays the same.

“The Masters,” was a name for the event Bobby Jones was reluctant to use because it seemed a bit precocious. Jones didn’t make many mistakes when designing this “toonament,” but I’m really glad he dropped “The Augusta National Invitational” tag. Oh, and he decided to reverse the nines.  Can you even imagine this event, with the most famous back nine in golfdom, being played as the first nine? Horrors!

Every first full week of April, we get to wipe the slate clean and start all over again. The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer, we dust off the sticks and head to links. But this week we stand in awe of the sporting spectacle we know as the Masters. Anyway, let the show is about to begin. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do. I’d like to add one final note to the younger readers and maybe first time attendees at the event: If golf is in your soul, treasure every moment this week because the memories will last a lifetime, and you’ll appreciate it more with each passing year.  Believe me, b there will come a time when you drag your feet just to slow the passage of time, and there is no better time to do so than this week. 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Reaction?
  • 32
  • LEGIT1
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK2

Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional. Clark has taught the game of golf for more than 30 years to golfers all across the country, and is recognized as one of the leading teachers in the country by all the major golf publications. He is also is a seven-time PGA award winner who has earned the following distinctions: -- Teacher of the Year, Philadelphia Section PGA -- Teacher of the Year, Golfers Journal -- Top Teacher in Pennsylvania, Golf Magazine -- Top Teacher in Mid Atlantic Region, Golf Digest -- Earned PGA Advanced Specialty certification in Teaching/Coaching Golf -- Achieved Master Professional Status (held by less than 2 percent of PGA members) -- PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Golf Professional of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Presidents Plaque Award for Promotion and Growth of the Game of Golf -- Junior Golf Leader, Tri State section PGA -- Served on Tri State PGA Board of Directors. Clark is also former Director of Golf and Instruction at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. He now directs his own school, The Dennis Clark Golf Academy at the JW Marriott Marco Island in Naples, Fla.. He can be reached at dennisclarkgolf@gmail.com

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Podcasts

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: How to properly predict the outcome of your golf shots

Published

on

If you are standing over your golf ball and you feel uncomfortable, this podcast is for you. And if you stand over your golf ball and don’t know where the golf ball is going, this is for you.

Your Reaction?
  • 0
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

Opinion & Analysis

Ways to Win: Power and patience

Published

on

We had to wait a little longer than normal to see the 2020 U.S. Open, but it was worth the anticipation. A stacked field on a classic course where, for the first time in a while, the USGA got the set-up totally right. The course played difficult, but fair. Long, penal rough and undulated greens kept the world’s best off-balance while still rewarding solid golf shots.

The West Course at Winged Foot Golf Club proved a true test of golf and when the dust settled, only a single player remained under par. Bryson DeChambeau was the lone player to conquer the beast, displaying a unique balance of power and patience that the golf world hasn’t previously seen.

By now, the golf world knows how DeChambeau changed his body dramatically, particularly to chase these kinds of championships, and while sometimes he seems too smart for his own good, this time his calculations were right on. One certainly cannot fault his work ethic. Ridiculed for being a slow player, he has worked to improve. Take away his protractor and he finds another way to read greens. Though putting and short game were a weak point, he has improved. His body transformation was just another calculated risk from the golfing scientist after working hard with Chris Como to get his game just right.

However, winning a U.S. Open at Winged Foot takes more than just power. It took patience. DeChambeau outlasted the field by minimizing mistakes and capitalizing on scoring chances. But it would be misleading to say that this wasn’t a case of bomb and gouge. That is exactly what DeChambeau did, hitting just over 41 percent of his fairways for the week.

What happened?

U.S. Open rough is supposed to be the great equalizer. It is supposed to put a premium on ball striking and fairways and traditional golf values, but it failed.

How?

DeChambeau made an interesting comment in one of his many interviews this week when he said something along the lines of “If I’m going to miss the fairway anyway, I might as well hit it out there.” This statement ended up being fairly prophetic. DeChambeau finished T26th in fairways. Not surprising. However, what he realized early on was that everyone was going to miss the narrow, hard, and fast fairways at Winged Foot. Only 11 players in the entire field hit more than 50 percent of their fairways. Only two of those 11 finished in the top 10 (Rory McIlroy and Harris English). DeChambeau was able to overpower a course that many did not think could be overpowered. Using V1 Game’s advanced analysis, we can see that he averaged over 300 yards per drive every round of the U.S. Open.

There are really three areas that impact driving performance. In order of importance they are:

  • Minimizing mistakes: Do not drive into penalty or recovery situations
  • Distance: Getting closer to the hole for the next shot
  • Accuracy: Getting a better lie

While the driving performance plot from the new V1 Game Virtual Coach shows that DeChambeau was certainly long and accurate enough, the Mistakes view gives an idea of where he gave strokes away. His number of mistakes would be high for a typical week on the PGA Tour, but they are exceptional for a U.S. Open. DeChambeau did not take a single penalty, only four times did he drive into a recovery situation, and in each of those he was still able to advance the ball more than 75 yards. Therefore, DeChambeau did very well in V1 Game’s three keys to driving. He did have three three-putts on the week, but so did much of the field.

Overall, DeChambeau putted well, finishing 18th in the field for Strokes Gained Putting. He gained strokes putting in every round except for the third. Using the V1 Game Post Round Summary for the third round, we can see that he lost strokes because of two three-putts and two short misses inside six ft. His three putts were from 30-50 feet, which is not unexpected on the difficult greens at Winged Foot, but the easy-to-digest output guides DeChambeau on where he needs to focus his putting practice.

Adding it all up, where DeChambeau really won the tournament was on the ninth hole. In the final round, he sank a 38-foot putt for an eagle at a critical time when Matthew Wolff had roughly 10 feet for the same. While Wolff also sank his eagle putt, DeChambeau’s putt had to be deflating as he maintained his one-stroke advantage and momentum going into the back nine, where Wolff finally faded. DeChambeau eagled the hole twice on the week, accounting for two of his 15 under-par holes. Only 16 other players had an eagle in the tournament and no other player had two or more. When under par holes are at such a premium, eagles go that much further. DeChambeau succeeded with long drives and accurate irons.

DeChambeau was already a good young player before he bulked up, but he may be a great player now. In addition to his prodigious distance, his short game and putting are improving. His ability to scramble throughout the U.S. Open was critical to maintain momentum and keep blemishes off his card. U.S. Opens are often just as much about avoiding bogey as they are making par and DeChambeau did just that by minimizing damage and making nothing worse than bogey. A truly impressive performance by one of the game’s hardest-working tour pros.

DeChambeau did not just stumble into better golf. He accomplished it by setting goals, measuring progress, and looking at data. If you are ready to put in work on your game, V1 Game has all the tools to help you do the same. Actionable data and measurable results. Let V1 Game’s all-new Virtual Coach and Virtual Caddie help you bomb it like Bryson.

Your Reaction?
  • 9
  • LEGIT3
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

On Spec

On Spec: Bryson Wins U.S. Open & playing with hickory shafted clubs

Published

on

How could we not talk about Bryson winning the US Open and being the only player to finish under par at Winged Foot?

In contrast to Bryson’s take on the modern game, our host Ryan Barath recently had the opportunity to play golf with hickory clubs for the first time and tells the story.

Your Reaction?
  • 1
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW1
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP1
  • OB0
  • SHANK1

Continue Reading

WITB

Facebook

Trending