Notes From The US Senior Open - Sunday

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Photo of the 18th as Browne and O’Meara close it out is courtesy of WWW.USGA.ORG No other use is permitted.

feel somewhat vindicated in that the difference making hole for the Championship was—as predicted—the sixteenth. If O’Meara makes par there, it’s a bit of a different game for the last two holes. As it was, he fell two shots back and it was all over.

In watching the replay of the golf tournament, it strikes me just how compressed it all looks compared to being there in person. The closeups of the players and holes belie the size of the course. If you’ve not been to a pro golf tournament, you should make it a point to attend. You’ll be surprised at how different it looks.

I’m not a fashionista, but I noticed that a large number of spectators were wearing golf shoes. Not sure what the point of that is. Even the players’ caddies are in athletic shoes. Perhaps more curious were the women hiking around in skirts and heels. Flip flops—with their lack of arch support—also baffle me.

I followed Tom Kite for a while during the late morning. He’s a very cheerful player, and plays to the crowd. After a tricky up and down, he turned to the fans and said “I am so glad that’s over.” Everyone laughed. He did, too. Kite was very gracious in acknowledging every “nice shot, Tom” within earshot. He also generous in his complements to playing partner Scott Simpson. Tom is a guy I’d like to meet. Maybe next year at the US Senior Open at Indianwood.

Things to bring to a golf tournament:
Wide brimmed hat
Suntan lotion
Folding chair or stool
Cool Downz
binoculars
water bottle
snacks
a fanny pack

Put the water and snacks in the fanny pack. Quick eats on the course are pretty expensive.

There were a bunch of people who had periscopes for seeing over the crowds, but I think if you had binoculars, a periscope wouldn’t be necessary. One guy I saw had a novel solution: he carried a step stool around to help him look over the crowds.

hile following Tom Kite, I had a nice chat with Mike Allen, an amateur player from Austin, Texas. This week was Mike’s first USGA Championship, but he failed to make the cut. No matter, he said “It was an amazing week, and I was so happy to be here.” Tall and rangy, Mike holds the world record for the most birdies in a row: 11. He runs a website: http://www.golfaustin.com, where he has some notes on his Senior Open experience. I noticed him because I think he looks an awful lot like Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief,  whom I played with at the Crowne Plaza Invitational Pro Am.

I caught up with the lead group of Olin Browne and Mark O’Meara on the seventh hole. The crowd around the tee boxes and greens were huge, with people packed five and six deep. I honestly don’t know what they could see. I decided to stick with my strategy of placing myself toward the middle of the fairway so I could see both the tee shot and the second. I also had walked the course enough over the previous few days that I knew which side of the fairway was likely to be the least crowded. That was mostly a matter of paying attention to the timing of how the marshals opened and closed the ropes. Positioning yourself on the correct side for the next hole means that you don’t get stuck behind the masses when the marshalls close the ropes so the players can pass through.

The crowds thinned out quite a bit on fourteen and fifteen, then picked up again near the grandstands on sixteen. From there, it was packed all the way through to the finish. You can see just how many people were there in the photo above.

NBC’s Roger Maltbie is a chain smoker. He does a good bit of his commentary with a mike in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Dottie Pepper walks briskly down the fairways. Maltbie gets a ride in a cart from place to place. I wonder if Pepper shouldn’t sue for discrimination. Or maybe she likes the walk.

On thirteen, from just off the green, Olin Browne used a hybrid for his chip. I’m going to practice that shot. It was very effective.

If you go to a tournament, one of the first things you should do is to visit the pro or gift shop and buy a copy of the yardage book. I found it a terrific companion as I was following the players. On television, we’re used to the field announcers giving us the yardages. Walking the course, it’s up to you. Knowing how far a player has from Point A to Point B made it much more enjoyable for me.

And finally, thanks to the USGA for allowing this Golf Blogger to participate as a member of the media. The experience has given me quite a bit of fodder for articles for my readers.

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