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Golf: The inside scoop on professional golf

By Paul Knowles (published in www.golfguy.ca)

Everybody likes to be "on the inside", to be in the know. Writers, I suspect, are especially susceptible to this. I don't know if it's a weakness, a vice, or simply a mark of humanness, but I am definitely guilty as charged. Never has this particular individual foible been more evident than two weeks ago when, through no virtue of my own, I ended up at the Honda Classic PGA Golf Tournament at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens. (Photo by Paul Knowles)

 

I was invited by operators of the stunningly gorgeous resort; I was granted media access by the PGA; I was treated like a king. If you feel like striking me with a seven iron, I understand... although I would opt for a five-wood.

From the moment I arrived, I started soaking up the experience. This felt like a once-in-a-lifetime shot, and I was going to make the best of it, garnering all the inside info I could.

I learned that Tiger Woods is a much-maligned guy, in some ways. I am not defending his previous personal life – that's none of my business, anyway. But he has a reputation of being somber and distant. Well, I was lucky enough to watch him, up close. Somehow, the TV coverage fails to capture the clear reality that he jokes with his fellow players, and he smiles and banters during his interviews. I watched him give a couple of autographed balls to the young scoreboard carriers who walked the 18 holes with him. The PGA folks say he's really okay. Nice to know.

I learned that golfer Stewart Cink is a very thoughtful man. One of my reasons for being there was to interview Mike Weir. I wanted to catch him after the first round, but weather delayed my flights, and my only chance was after round two– when he had missed the cut. Mike wasn't eager to talk, but he did give me a couple of minutes. Stewart Cink, a man who has won the British Open, was in Mike's threesome – he knew Mike hadn't wanted to be interviewed. After Mike was gone. Stewart approached me, asked if Mike had "blown me off", explaining that Mike was not happy with missing the cut. Stewart offered to do an interview instead. I assured him Mike did cooperate, but I was very impressed with Cink's kindness.

I learned that golf tournaments in Florida have a unique dress code. The guys all dress in golf attire – I guess they're ready to step in if Phil or Rory don't show. The younger women all dress as though they are going out dancing (pole or otherwise) – tight dresses, low dresses, high heels on sod. It's an unusual combination.

I learned that at least a quarter of those at the tournament never see a golfer strike a ball – the party has started, and you wouldn't want to miss that!

I learned that Rory McIlroy is a quiet, unassuming young man who can hit a golf ball 375 yards! He lost in a playoff, and basically admitted that he deserved to lose... showing a lot of class.

I learned that playing golf near championship players does not mean you play better golf.

I learned that in my next life, I want to be a golf writer.