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GET INTO GOLF: Just like the pros

John Renslow
Golf Columnist

How many people that watch the NFL on television actually play football? Almost zero if they’re under the age of 25. The same could be said for all major sports.

Golf, however, is a beautiful thing, an essentially cradle to grave sport that we can enjoy whether we watch or play.

Watching LeBron James dunk, Steph Curry peal off a long-distance 3-pointer or Mike Trout crush one for about 500 feet, does not make us think, “Gee, I could do that.”

In our great game, we can make that putt, hit that sand shot, or knock one close to the hole. Sometimes we can do it just like the professionals.

Likely, none of us have ever shot some hoops in Madison Square Garden, caught a pass in the Coliseum, or stood on the mound at Yankee Stadium.

Yet, many golf courses played on tour are accessible to all of us. In northern California, Harding Park, Silverado, Edgewood and Pebble Beach host professional events.

Certain vacation spots have fabulous tracks that are on the PGA schedule and could also be on the recreational golfer’s calendar.

One of those we get to watch from afar this week.

You see, some clever individual decided that a good way to kick of the New Year was a relatively small event with the world’s best players. A warm spot, with fairly predictable weather, was chosen and the Tournament of Champions (TOC) was born.

Back to playing, watching and sharing the same courses. Several years ago, I was on the island of Maui near the time of the event. At least one participant was on location ahead of schedule, seemingly to bring the family for a little rest and relaxation.

Knowing that the course is open to the public and not yet reserved for the upcoming TOC, Rory Sabbatini (eight PGA Tour victories) still wanted to get in a round of golf. One afternoon, the course had availability with a couple that was going to venture out and play the beautiful layout.

At the time Rory was a five-time PGA Tour winner, ranked No. 34 on the PGA Tour Money list and No. 65 on the World Golf Ranking. The pro shop staff announced the he would join them on the 1st Tee.

Paired with a stranger and unsure if their enjoyable round (at over $200 apiece) will become a memorable round for all the wrong reasons, the lady runs back into the shop and whispers, “Does this guy know how to play golf?” You gotta love it.

This year’s cast is going to be fun to watch with US Open winner, Gary Woodland, and World Golf Ranking top 10’s, Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, and Justin Thomas in the field. But, be careful letting your spouse or partner watch it with you, they’ll be searching the real estate listings and checking airfares!

John Renslow is a PGA professional, VP of Yugi Golf Management, and provides golf instruction at local courses.


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