After spending a few days at the PGA National Golf Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens with the PGA Tour pros during the Honda Classic, I learned something. I learned how to play just like a touring professional. Or as I like to call it “How to play 18 holes of golf in under six hours.”
Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I’m sure that my buddies on the PGA Tour will appreciate me putting myself in their shoes and informing you of just how stressful a day in the life of a touring pro can be.
My day starts early. The moment I get out of bed my mind begins to focus on the first task at hand. What to wear! Before I even begin to think about breakfast, I choose a freshly pressed pair of slacks, a color-coordinated shirt, matching shoes and belt. The belt buckle is quickly becoming one of my most important accessories. Do I take the one with my sponsor’s logo, or the one with a ruby in the center to match my shirt?
I arrive at the course in my courtesy car for the week. I made sure to pick one in my lucky color. First, I hit the locker room, put on my golf shoes, some sunscreen, pick out a matching cap and then look for my caddy. By now he has assembled everything I need to play today. He has stocked my already overweight bag with snacks, water bottles, rain gear, and whatever else he thinks I may require.
I arrive at the practice range to find him waiting next to my bag, a fresh, neat pile of pristine golf balls awaits my appearance. I begin with stretches to get my lean, muscular body ready for the day’s work.
After stretching, and before I begin hitting balls, I again check my apparel. I make sure that my shirt is perfectly tucked-in. I adjust my slacks, and check my shoes. Last, but not least, I check my belt buckle. My look is part of my “Zen” and once all is right, I am ready to begin.
I hit a few short lobs with a wedge to start, and work through my irons and then woods, allowing my muscles to reach peak readiness just as I reach the first tee. During this time, my caddy is cleaning my clubs and remarking on how wonderful my swing is today (the perfect mind-set is a must for the touring pro).
While I am performing this concerto that readies me to play, a gallery has gathered to watch in awe. They wish me well on my round today, but since I am in “the zone” I can do little, if anything, to acknowledge them. My routine is timed down to the second, and I cannot interrupt it or I risk starting my round on the wrong foot.
When I am done at the range, I head to the putting green to get in a few chips and putts before heading to the first tee. I arrive at the first tee and the crowd vigorously applauds when the starter announces me. I tip my cap and nod a quick “thank you“. My drive splits the fairway and I am off.
During my round I chat a little with my playing partner. Nothing important. Usually just stuff about restaurants and cute women following us in the gallery.
Once to my ball I begin the slow dance that is my pre-shot routine. I toss grass clippings in the air a half-dozen times. I select a club, then change my mind. I ask the marshals to have everyone within 200 yards of me stop moving and breathing. My task requires intense concentration.
When I finally hit the ball, a result not within a couple feet of the hole is met with disdain from me. I glare at my caddy who obviously provided poor information and begin walking to the green.
On the green things really slow down. I prowl around the green like a lion stalking a gazelle. I check the break and distance of my putt from 36 angles. I repair imaginary ball marks on the green that may deflect my perfectly struck putt. I take exactly five practice strokes and hit the ball. If it doesn’t go in, I fix even more marks on the green, tap in my ball and move to the next tee.
I, along with my playing partners, do all of this in a mere 20 minutes! When you spread that out over 18 holes, you have the six-hour round of golf. And that, my friends, is how you play like a pro.