March 14, 2006

Bay Hill Invitational 2006: Columnist JJ gives an "inside-the-ropes" preview exclusively for Sportsfilter.

posted by justgary to golf at 11:31 AM - 18 comments

Awesome. Thanks. But next time can we get the member of the family who actually knows how to play?

posted by yerfatma at 11:58 AM on March 14, 2006

Awesome JJ. Just friggin' cool. I want ONE player to try to drive the green on the par five. I drove the green on a blind par four once. Just once.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:20 PM on March 14, 2006

Huh? Golf ball technology not THAT good yet...... Maybe downwind on some lil ole muni track, but Bay Hill's, and most tour venue's par 5's are all there, weedy.

posted by mjkredliner at 01:21 PM on March 14, 2006

Just thought I'd mention what makes this tournament special, for those who may not know: It is Arnold Palmer's tournament, at his "home course", and the reason it draws such a consistently strong field year after year is out of respect for The King. Long Live The King!!!!

posted by mjkredliner at 01:40 PM on March 14, 2006

Geez mjk - read the column. There is a drivable par five at Bay Hill.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:50 PM on March 14, 2006

Who has reached it in one, Weedy? Until it has been done it is not driveable. The best in the world have played it for years and it has not been done, and I dare say Arnie himself will blow up and re-design it if it does happen.

posted by mjkredliner at 02:03 PM on March 14, 2006

Awesome JJ, as always.

posted by YukonGold at 02:13 PM on March 14, 2006

Who has reached it in one, Weedy? Until it has been done it is not driveable. I was referring to the attempt. 330 yards over water (again, in JJ's column)? Sounds driveable to me. Also very risky. But I'd still like to see someone try. And because someone hasn't done it, doesn't mean it's impossible to do. However, I agree that it's likely not a great idea and if it ever happened, Arnie would fix it so it wouldn't happen again.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 02:51 PM on March 14, 2006

According to John O'Leary III (director of instruction at the Arnold Palmer Golf Academy and our coach for the week) it has been done by: John Daly (in a practice round at the second attempt) Ryan Palmer (or "The Prince" as no one calls him, playing with his grandfather one windy Sunday afternoon), and Some guy who does trickshot routines (who did it with a 55" driver at the fourth attempt) JO3's point (and I think it was a good one) was that for now, it's just too silly (and maybe a little too early in the round) to try it in a tournament, but if technology keeps going as it's going, there will come a time when it becomes a viable risk to take. A year or two after that they will have to move the tee though because everyone will be doing it. I had a crack at it after I'd hit my proper shot. Even after five holes, I'd lost all faith in the forecaddie's yardages, so when he told me it was 348 to the flag, I thought I'd be in with a chance. I didn't get all of it, but even if I had, I'd have been wet without question. It is driveable, but not by me. yerfatma - touche

posted by JJ at 03:24 PM on March 14, 2006

Well, I do not claim to be an ex-pro, and I will not regale anyone with stories of shots or rounds played, but I play @ scratch and in my part of the country, second attempts, fourth attempts, practice rounds, and having your grandfather witness a career shot in a non tournament round, even if he IS Arnold Palmer, don't count for much. And we do not hit second shots or drop balls after we have played our "proper"shot. Also, half the field will be cut Saturday and they will be above par, with many short to medium length hitters among them. And no, The King is not a widely used nickname for Arnold, he is far to unpretentious for that I believe. But, Tiger has referred to him as such, and in my circle of golfing friends, he is The King of Golf much like Elvis was The King of Rock and Roll. Maybe not accurate, but affectionate.

posted by mjkredliner at 03:46 PM on March 14, 2006

Maybe we will have a round soon where one of the big hitters is out of centention and will just say FI and try it. Like everyone says when it happens, it won't happen many more times before the tee box is moved back.

posted by scottypup at 03:56 PM on March 14, 2006

I drove it in a greenside bunker from the championship tees here once (in a practice round). In the photograph (from the green, looking back up the fairway) you can see a steep slope in the middle of the fairway. It was about 310 to carry to the top of that. The wind was blowing (as it always does there) and straight behind. I mullered one for a laugh (swung myself nearly off my feet) and amazingly got all of it. It looked like it would never come down. It pitched out of sight (so halfway down the hill) and ran the guts of 160 yards on the hard-baked links turf. Without doubt, the best moment of my very short professional career was in my first tournament - The South African Players Championships (sounds exciting, doesn't it?) at Royal Durban. The signatue hole is played as the 9th by the members, but we played it as the 15th in the tournament. It's a par 4, 279 metres (so 306 yards) from the back tees with OB right (in the form of the racetrack) and a couple of nasty bunkers guarding the front of the green. On this occasion, there were bleachers surrounding the back of the green. Crappy photo from the green looking back here - best I could find. In the second round, and a long way off the pace in terms of making the cut (I think I was nine over for the tournament and the cut was projected at +4), I decided to have a lash at it. The group in front of me contained Mark McNulty, in the group two groups behind me was David Frost, so the bleachers were as full as they were ever going to get that week - I'd guess maybe 200 people. I waited for the green to clear (which created a bit of excitement around the tee in itself), teed one up ridiculously high and threw every last ounce of rage I had left in me at the ball. It took off like a shell, but far too low. Somehow, it scuttled up between the bunkers in front of the green and ran straight at the pin. The bleachers started cheering when it missed the bunkers, and then they errupted when it hit the pin. The 20 odd people around the tee box went mental too at that point. For a moment I thought it had gone in, but the groan and applause that followed let me know it hadn't. We got up to the green and it was five feet past the hole. Annoyingly, the worst moment of my professional career followed as I rammed the (very downhill) putt twelve feet past and missed the one back. I was so furious with myself that I hit my tee shot at 16 into the hospitality area. And that's my professional career summed up right there. I could have saved you the trouble and just written "idiot" come to think of it. On preview: I do not claim to be an ex-pro, and I will not regale anyone with stories of shots or rounds played Unfortunately for the long-suffering SpoFites, I do and I will - it's one of the best bits about golf, and maybe even sport in general for me - the little moments you will never forget. we do not hit second shots I reckon I could play off scratch again if I stopped hitting second shots too - especially as most of mine are played from neck-high grass and surrounded by trees these days. The King is not a widely used nickname for Arnold Apart from by everyone, you mean? It cracked me up at Bay Hill that everyone calls him "Mr Palmer", even people who have known him for years.

posted by JJ at 04:10 PM on March 14, 2006

The old man and Mr Palmer.

posted by JJ at 04:29 PM on March 14, 2006

JJ, what handicap do you play to now? And also, I have a friend that just got invited to play in the BellSouth Pro-Am here in Atlanta. He's a 15 and is worried that he will embarass himself. I told him you can't pass up an opportunity like that. In your experience, are there a bunch of hacks out there on those Monday rounds?

posted by usfbull at 04:37 PM on March 14, 2006

Officially, my handicap is 3 (3.3), but realistically, I don't play often enough to really play to that. If I had to play for my life, I'd be comfortable enough breaking eighty, but I'd struggle to do much better as I'm about as consistent at golf as I am at doing Olympic events. The trip to Bay Hill has me all fired up though. I've joined a local club (after only six years living here) and I'm going to play a few amateur tournaments this year to give me something to work towards. Tell your friend to jump at the chance - he'll be a million miles from being the worst on display (plenty of fake handicap businessmen who have played twice in their lives desperately hoping to get paired with a name), and he'll enjoy it no end. The pros who play the pro-ams have seen it all - he'd do well to embarrass himself compared to some of the shit they'll have seen. Best I ever heard was about Tom Lehman when he was reigning Open champion. He played foursomes with some female amateur who was nervous as a kitten. On the first, Lehman launches one 300 yards straight down the middle. The woman hits the second shot on the head about three yards. Lehman tells her not to worry about it and hits their third shot to about five feet. The woman knocks the putt twenty feet past. Lehman holes the one back for five. As they're walking to the next tee, he tells her not to worry about it and to try and relax. "Don't tell me to relax, Mr Lehman. We've hit five shots so far, and I've only hit two of them!" I'm sure that's probably some dodgy joke that's been told a million times with various protagonists, but I don't care - it still tickles me.

posted by JJ at 04:55 PM on March 14, 2006

I played in a Cleveland Golf Tour Pro-Am (18.9) last year and thoroughly embarassed myself...and had one of the best golf experiences ever. Played with 3 buddies and a really cool pro who went on to win the Canadian Tour Order of Merit last year. I've had a lot of trouble with chipping, an embarassing trait of my game that the pro coined "The Skull and Settle". So, tell him to go. Even better golfers will probably make fun of him.

posted by YukonGold at 06:36 PM on March 14, 2006

Good stuff, JJ. Thanks for the read. And I really enjoyed the follow up comments as well.

posted by 86 at 07:33 AM on March 15, 2006

Good stuff, JJ. Thanks for the read. And I really enjoyed the follow up comments columns as well. Yeah, thanks for the golf lesson JJ. For the record, Ive only played on 9 hole par 3 courses and average 5.5 per hole.

posted by njsk8r20 at 12:02 PM on March 15, 2006

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