Editor’s Note: The following was written by Marketing Manager Ethan Ganot, who was recently on site at The Players Championship and was so enthralled by what he saw he wanted to share it with the world. He even wrote on trend and put it in list format which could be the very reason you clicked in the first place. Enjoy…
I’m not sure how or why it took me so long but I finally attended a Tour event on unofficial tournament days and got to witness what happens Monday through Wednesday, before the massive crowds arrive and the tone gets more serious. After spending time in/around our Tour truck, on the practice range and green, and walking 9 holes with a few staffers, here are a few of my most notable observations that you might not be aware of.
1. Practice round…it’s not just a clever name
The pros I walked with worried much more about hitting shots from all over each hole than than actually playing their original ball. First they’d hit their original then they would head to various spots on/around the green and fairway to work on shots from different lies, figuring out where to miss, what the breaks were like on various hole locations, etc. Aside from the fact that the guys I followed were playing a skins game, the score they recorded on each hole was merely inconsequential.
2. Atmosphere among equipment reps was very collegial
Our Tour truck was shoehorned into a tiny space along with those of all of the competing equipment manufacturers. The whole area was hot, cramped, and loud, with one communal area setup for lunch. A setup for animosity and over-the-top competitiveness, right? Wrong. I was pleasantly surprised at the vibe; just about all of the reps have mutual respect and understanding, and it’s a relatively friendly environment. I’ve even heard stories of reps lending components/tools to reps of competing brands when they’re in a pinch. I think what it boils down to is that it’s a long season and everyone’s in the same boat.
3. (Some) Tour pros have the concentration ability of a Chess Grandmaster
Walking the range and practice green, I was amazed by the number of seemingly random people holding credentials (myself included.) Agents, caddies, instructors, friends, equipment reps, mental coaches, nutritionists, etc. On top of that, there are autograph-hounding fans just out of arm’s reach. Imagine trying to do your “day job” in that environment, which is what the players are trying to do. I felt like I didn’t see a player take more than three consecutive putts or swings without being interrupted by someone. There seems to be very little peace at any place/time at the host venue.
4. Caddies might be ninjas
At one point during my 9-hole walk-along, I carried on a fairly lengthy conversation with one of the caddies. Upon reflection a few holes later, what seemed like an uninterrupted conversation included the caddie getting yardages, telling his player where not to miss, reading and charting greens, filling divots, cleaning clubs, tossing out and retrieving chipping disc targets on greens, and oh lugging a 40-ish pound bag around. The caddie was so efficient & stealthy that I hardly noticed all of those activities as they were taking place.
5. Employee of the host course? Might as well camp there all week.
In light of the obvious golf course maintenance that goes on, it’s easy to miss all of the non-golf course related activity that occurs during an event week; there’s a ton of administrative and hosting logistical work that has to be done. One course employee told me that his week consisted of seven consecutive days of 4-8 shifts…as in 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day for a week! I did the math and that doesn’t leave much time for grocery shopping, laundry, commuting, or pretty much anything else!
6. Tour Pros – they’re just like us!
During practice rounds, guys are listening to music during waits, chipping the ball at tee markers, chewing tobacco, talking about sports and cars. And they’re dishing out as much trash talk as they are compliments of good shots. Following along, it felt like I was playing a round with my friends…if me and my friends were +5 handicaps playing at a world famous venue with greens that roll at least 12 on the stimp.
7. Those guys can play fast
The foursome I walked with finished 9 holes in two hours flat, including all the time spent practicing around every single green. The secret isn’t rocket science; hit the ball to a place where you can easily find it, walk fast, and be ready to hit when it’s your turn. Literally, guys would be starting their backswing as the airborne divot of the player next to them was landing back on the turf.