Charlie Sifford, the first African American to win on the PGA tour, was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame this last week. What many people don't realize, is that for many years, African Americans had their own golf tour, much like the Negro Leagues paralleled Major League Baseball. Here's an article on Sifford's induction.
As I was watching the Masters' today, I was stuck by how much Phil Mickelson seemed to be enjoying himself. He wore a big smile on his face, looked at people in the crowd and acknowledged their applause. But this wasn't just because he was in contention at the Masters' -- Phil always seems to be enjoying himself.
Much like a guy named Arnold Palmer.
I wasn't around for the days when Palmer was winning Masters' and Opens. But in the film that I've seen, he always seems to be having a good time. And the crowd responded. That's why Arnie had an Army.
So perhaps it was fitting that, on the weekend that Palmer hung up his cleats at Augusta, a personable guy like Phil won.
I don't know that the other guys on the tour aren't enjoying themselves. But if they are, many of them aren't showing it. I've never thought Tiger was having a good time. Davis, Vijay, Freddy ... most of them don't seem to be having a lot of fun. Yes, I know its a business -- and a livelihood for them -- and they have to take it seriously, but for heavens sake, it's GOLF.
I coach boys and girls high school golf. My number one rule for them is: Have Fun. If we are not having fun, then there's not much point in playing. Of course, having fun has a lot of meaning: it's more fun if you play by the rules; it's more fun if you show proper courtesy; it's more fun if you make an effort to play better. But, in the end, you have to have fun.
So here's to the guys who have fun playing golf and show it.
I played nine today at my home course and discovered another shot that I need to add to my repertoire: a left handed pitch.
It was a gusty day, and throughout the round, I had managed to keep it low enough take the wind out of play. At the par-3 9th, however, I got it up in the air and watched in horror as it drifted away to the left. When I got there, I found my ball nestled snugly against a pine tree, about 15 yards from the green. There simply was no way I could take my normal, right handed stance with the ball in that position.
Rather than declare it unplayable, I decided to flip my 6 iron over (that's the lowest iron I was carrying), and hit a pitch left handed. It didn't work. The ball dribbled out and rolled into the intervening sand trap. I ended up taking a 5. Of course, if I had declared it unplayable and dropped, I would have taken at least a 5 anyway.
I'm convinced, though, that had I practiced that shot previously, I would have been able to get it up, over and on to the green. Maybe I should have tried another club. I'm going to experiment the next time I'm at the range.
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