The PGA of America chose the Colorado Golf Club for the Senior PGA less than two years after it officially opened. I’m sure there are some folks regretting that decision. The course is magnificent but a bit difficult for spectators. Someday there will be an opulent 30.000 square foot clubhouse but this week there are open receptacles, the dining area is unfinished forcing the players and families up the dusty path to a small cottage with few tables. Usually folks like to see a little grass around the clubhouse but the sod was taken back after bills went unpaid. With the high winds this week it has actually been dangerous walking around the clubhouse area. The blowing dirt and gravel permeated my old skin a few times.
I’ve been coming to majors for 22 years and mom told me if I can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all. There’s not much to say about this major. Crenshaw and Coore created a masterpiece with a few quirks. A couple of the greens are a bit funky and unofficially the front nine has four par fives. Numbers four and five, the longest par fours on the course, play directly into the prevailing winds which have been howling all week. Monday we played an early practice round and by early afternoon there were gusts up to 70 miles per hour.
The windy conditions have wreaked havoc with everyone’s practice schedule. Yesterday afternoon we were alone on the practice tee working on our swing but it was fruitless. Hitting ball in a 40 mile an hour right to left wind does more damage than good. We retreated to the putting green and tried to maintain some sort of ritual but the winds blew the balls and Jim all over the green. Jim and his family retreated to the sheltered par three course for a little game, some relaxation plus some family fueled competition and ribbing. Hopefully he comes out of there relaxed and ready for the first round.
We played nine hole practice rounds each day, by ourselves the first three days then Jeff Sluman and Joe Ozaki yesterday. We had Freddie behind us and he vocally admired Jim’s tee ball. After Jim’s fluid swing he bellowed, “Wow! That was worth the wait. I hope I can drive it like that.” For some reason the PGA of America doesn’t schedule tee times for practice rounds like the other majors causing a first tee long jam and long practice rounds. Our nine holes took almost three hours with backups on every tee box.
Scouting a new course especially when it’s going to be played in windy conditions you’re continually looking for the safe landing areas around the greens. If it blows during the tournament pin sheets are useless and middle of the green is always the objective. The PGA of America designed pin sheets are confusing anyway so it’s not a big deal. Every other professional tournament uses an easily read format, for some reason the PGA pin sheet has to be folded six different ways and continually twisted and turned for the proper view.
As long as we can have some fun and get off to a good start we’ll be fine. I’ve got a vast repertoire of jokes, a small bottle of pills for my hip, and all the information we need for a solid round of golf. Hopefully Jim’s fluid swing escapes the practice tee and he lets it loose on the course. If it’s blowing today 74 or 75 will be a pretty good score.