Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring Golf Advice

Spring is coming! I know you might not believe it. After a winter like this past one, we doubted it would ever come. But it is. How do I know?
The Masters. As an employee of Arnold Palmer during the 80’s and 90’s the Master’s Tournament was, in many ways, the official start of the golf season and a ritual of spring. For Mr. Palmer who was still competing then, much of the excitement and preparation for the upcoming tournament season always revolved around the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Unfortunately, there was so much work and so many demands on Mr. Palmer’s time that, while we hoped for the best, we knew it would be difficult for him to compete.
In many ways, and he would be mad at me a little for saying this, competing in the Arnold Palmer Invitational was not his priority. The tournament is about raising money for the hospitals that bear he and Winnie Palmer’s name in Orlando. From a competitive point of view, it was really a warm up for the Masters. I am not sure when he finally realized that maybe there was a chance he wasn’t going to win the tournament; it is entirely possible he never has. Every spring when he and Jack Nicklaus hit their ceremonial tee shots on the first hole, I am yelling at the television screen for them to keep going and finish the round. Compete in the tournament. It is spring in Augusta; anything is possible! I know for a fact the two of them believe that as well, even though they won’t admit it publically. So while the realist in me says there is no way they will be competitive again, I am willing to be satisfied with the hope and enthusiasm that comes with them symbolically starting not only this golf tournament, but another golf season for the rest of us.
So can the magic of spring and Augusta work for the rest of us? I think it can. Let’s make a pact. Regardless of how much we can get out to play this summer, no matter what we score, this is going to be the best golf season we ever had. We are going to celebrate every good shot and ignore the bad ones. We are going to appreciate being outside and enjoying the outdoors with our friends. We will judge our golf game with the idea that nothing is bad and it all has a chance to be good. I’ve got your back on that one. I am easy to find at the United States Golf Academy. You can email, write, call, text, tweet, Facebook; whichever is your favorite mode of communication. Don’t worry, we can get the little stuff likes slices, chunks and three putts worked out. Next column we will start the discussion about how we can play better. But for now remember, it is springtime at Augusta and anything is possible.

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