Monster Eats Writer
Monster Eats Writer
Note: After the many letters from you Loyal Readers and the exchange following last week's commentary, I realized I had more than enough new material to write an update of that story for Michigan Public Radio, which runs Friday mornings. But, since you've already lived it, I thought I'd spare you, and instead serve up a little light-hearted fare tied to the US Open. (The audio was recorded last year, so the first paragraph doesn't quite jibe, but you can handle it.)
If you do want to read or hear the latest on the MHSAA situation, you can find it on michiganradio.org.
As always, thank you for your loyalty!
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The U.S. Open is back, and with it, the endless complaining from the players about how impossibly tricked up it all is, followed by the equally predictable backlash from the media and fans, telling them to suck it up and quit crying. But you won’t hear any criticism from me. No sir.
You see, I’ve played the U.S. Open course at Oakland Hills, under the exact same conditions the pros faced this weekend. I hit from their tees – located about three miles behind the normal ones – I putted on their superfast greens, and I tried to hit out of their rough, so thick that when you stand in it, you can’t see your toes. That ain’t rough, brother. That’s a tropical rain forest.
Why did I subject myself to such punishment? After covering the U.S. Open 13 years ago, I was so sick of these so-called professional athletes whining about how tough this course is – they call it The Monster – that I wanted to prove that even a hacker like me could finish a round without collapsing into tears.
Monster, Schmonster, I thought. It's just grass, man. How tough can it be?
Well, I don’t say that any more.
On the first hole, I teed the ball up high and smashed it. But I smashed it just three inches off the ground – and the rough was six inches high. My shot died twenty yards from the tee box – about a hundred yards short of the Ladies Tee, fer cryin’ out loud. It took ten minutes to find my ball.
That’s when I took out my three iron, like I normally would, and aimed at the green four hundred yards away. I took another mighty swing. But not mighty enough to cut through all that grass and actually hit the ball. The grass stopped my club three inches short of making contact.
To get a feel for what the rough is like in a major golf tournament, let your lawn grow for three weeks, then try cutting it with a three iron.
I had to change my strategy. I pulled out a pitching wedge, swung it like a farmer working a scythe, and tried to rip up enough grass in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, my ball might be in the middle of that flying pile of hay and make it to the fairway.
It worked. From there I had no problem scoring my first ten of the round.
And I kept it up all day. Near the end of my round my head was such a mess I put the lit end of my "lucky cigar" to my lips. Twice.
Believe it or not, I actually played pretty well -- but all I had to show for it was a pride-swallowing score of 120.
That's right, a mere fifty over par – after one round. Imagine the leader board on Sunday if I had played. Padraig Harrington finished at four under, Garcia and Ben Curtis at one under, and -- who's this? -- some schmo named Bacon came in at plus 200.
Monster, I surrender.
So laugh at the players all you want. You won’t hear a peep out of me.
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