Why My Sunday Was Better Than Yours
By Kickntrue on 9/27/10

While you went out and played your local course or stayed home and watched football and golf yesterday, I played the last available round at Annandale Golf Club, where the PGA Tour will be this week! Sure- it's no Augusta National, and yes, a lot of our collective attention will be on the Ryder Cup this week, but the PGA Tour Fall Series kicks off this week and a lot of big names and important golf will be in action in Madison, Mississippi. The Fall Series is absolutely critical for many players trying to secure their spot inside the top 125 on the PGA Tour money list, guaranteeing them a Tour card for 2011. Anyway- enough about the event, let's talk about me!

This all happened because... well, because I'm persistent (/annoying). I've been bugging my boss to take me golfing at his home course for quite some time. As you can imagine, Annandale Golf Club is private, and a little bit out of my price range even if I was interested in membership. Long story short, he finally caved, and to make it even sweeter, he invited me for yesterday at 11:50, the last round of golf that would be played before the course shut down to its members, in preparation for the Viking Classic later this week.

Here's the thing- to host a PGA Tour event, your course needs to meet certain criteria. There are a lot of great courses that could just never do it, because they don't have the infrastructure to handle the parking, and accommodations for the crowds and players. The course has to be willing to give up play for a couple weeks in prime condition and has to accept the fact that after the tournament, after everything has been taken down and thousands of people have marched around the grounds, that it's going to be a bit beat up. That's all well and good though, but the REAL key is that the course has to be be in good enough shape that they can hand the maintenance over to the PGA Tour a few weeks in advance of the tournament and be turned from "great" to "phenomenally pristine."

So- I went to early church and rushed out to the course. A couple wrong turns later- I finally round my destination. I finally realized I needed to just keep following signs for "player valet parking" as they get to pull right up to the clubhouse (duh!). On my way- it started raining, lightly, but enough to scare me. By the time I parked, it was pouring. If figured my round was ruined. Fortunately, the rain stopped as quickly as it had started and my gracious host was willing to battle the conditions on my behalf. It turned out to be an amazing day, as the storm cleared, the front passed, and we had a perfectly sunny 80 degree day with no humidity. If you've ever spent more than an airport visit in the south this time of year, you know that's amazing luck!

I don't want to focus so much on how I played, though I'm not terribly disappointed. Maybe sometime in the future I'll get another crack at it- and I'm sure I can do a lot better. What I DO want to focus on- is getting the chance to play a course in perfect condition and how it differs from my normal fare. Annandale was definitely not the hardest course I've ever played, in fact, and this is no slight on the course, it wasn't the hardest I've played in the past month (the Wold Am took care of that). In fairness, I didn't play from the tips, but even so, the Jack Nicklaus design was tough, but absolutely fair. The fairways were generous, the rough was manageable and there wasn't a whole ton of trouble to get into with wayward tee shots. This isn't supposed to be Pebble Beach, and even with some of the marquee golfers in the world playing elsewhere, the guys showing up will still be plenty good to go well under par.

The thing that made playing Annandale a week before a PGA Tour event was the condition of the course overall, the perfect greens and the aura of the event that already existed a week in advance. As you can see from the pictures- the grandstands were already set up, the hospitality tents in place, and huge video scoreboards all over the course were running test stats and leaderboards. Sure, the stands were empty and the ropes (already in place) had no people lined up on them, but it sure felt cool! Ducking outside the ropes for an errant shot, it was easy to imagine the crowd rushing behind the ball to form an ally of fans to hit through. Putting on the 18th green, it was easy to imagine thousands of fans watching while putting in the shadow of the huge structures just a couple feet away. I'm not trying to be a cheeseball here, or really sell it as something it wasn't... it's not like I was living in 10 year old la la land, doffing my cap to a fake crowd to running around doing a Sergio running scissors kick after every great shot, but it was fun!

And the greens... The greens were probably the single biggest difference from any course you could play. I played some courses with fast greens before. I've played courses were I loved how true they rolled. What I'm not sure I can say is that I've played a course with the combination of the two, coming together at the perfect time for professional use. For instance, I've played Bethpage Black- but in the middle of the summer 4 years away from the US Open. An amazing experience and a great course, but the course wasn't hosting an event in a week. The thing about amazing greens- yes, they can be extremely punitive, but they also reward a good putt in a way that you can't otherwise experience. Perfect speed is rewarded with the break you expect. A perfectly struck putt to the heart of the cup will go nowhere but the heart. It's hard to believe the amount of force you need to put on an uphill putt (because gravity > friction on great greens), and how little you can touch a downhill putt, as to not lose it off the front of the green. Perfect greens, in conjunction with a perfect shot off a tightly mowed fairway (with the right ball), also give you results you think are only achieved on tv. You wonder how a pro spins the ball 15 feet back? He plays on courses every week like I played yesterday. It was great!

I could probably write another 2000 words, but I'll spare you as this is already getting too long. So, I guess to close, I'll just say, "I got to play a perfect course in perfect condition, 4 days before a PGA Tour event and you didn't! Na-na-na-na-boo-boo. Stick your head in doo-doo!" Now... if only I could come across a couple thousand bucks and get in Wednesday's Pro-Am! THAT, would be a trip!

[ comments ]
Banker85 says:
i know for a fact i would have tipped my hat to the imaginary crowd as i walked up 18. I do that on my home course.

good for you.

Banker85 says:
also looks like you didnt have that many great shots yesterday to do scissor kicks too.

bkuehn1952 says:
Your yesterday truly was way better than mine. I am jealous but maybe, just maybe, I can be happy that someone had a great Sunday. Nope. I am still jealous.
mjaber says:
I'm not sure if I'm jealous or not. I spent my Sunday on the couch, with my 3-week old daughter, watching football. :)
bducharm says:
@mjaber - Touche!!! Nothing in life beats spending time with the kids!!!

Andrew, I am jealous! Nothing in golf beats playing a good golf course in phenomenal condition. I am waiting on my invite to Augusta National!!!
cjgiant says:
Like I hope all of you have at some point, I've played some nice courses in good condition. I've also been to pro events, and while I couldn't walk every part of the course, the conditions didn't seem that much better than those nice courses (except for maybe the greens).

That said, I am totally jealous and wish I could play a course like this to see if my perceptions were not a measure of reality. Not sure I want those fast greens though, not matter how true they roll.
GolfSmith7 says:
Man playing a course like that a week before an event would be priceless. I am truly think that is very cool. One day I might get that chance...
jev says:
Not. Jealous. Not jealous. No...

Euhm... that sure beats my sunday round which started in the fog, 46 degrees and ended in a drizzle. So, actually, very very jealous :D
lcgolfer64 says:
Jealous of your Sunday round?... C'mon now
Sounds like you didn't get to play un-healed aerated greens (again) like I did. So fun watching a par putt do a 90-degree turn away (bounce?) 4 inches from the hole, time and time again...
I'll take your day, thank you!
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