Mizuno Media Day at the Country Club of the South
By mustang6560 on 9/20/11
Thought of the day--always travel with your golf clubs. You never know when you'll need them. More on that later.

I attended a Mizuno media day yesterday at the Country Club of the South in Alpharetta, Georgia for the winner of its JPX-800 Swing to Win Challenge ahead of the Tour Championship at East Lake. The event was open to the media and members of the club to get a chance to meet Mizuno staff players Luke Donald and Charles Howell, III. I got to the country club about 30 minutes ahead of time so I could look around the clubhouse and mingle with other media personnel in attendance. I met a few interesting people, but the two you might be familiar with were Ryan Ballengee of ProGolfTalk on msnbc.com and Ashley Mayo of Golf Digest. Ryan is the lead golf writer for ProGolfTalk and Ashley is in charge of coordinating, reviewing and writing the Hot List for Golf Digest.

Charles arrived first, and Luke followed about 10 minutes later. When I think of a professional golfer, I think of an athlete--someone who stands 6'2" and weighs about a 185 pounds--so naturally, the first thing I did when I met both guys was to size them up (I'm 5'11", 160 pounds). Neither golfer is very big in stature and I was actually surprised that I was taller than both golfers (and probably weighed the same). It was both refreshing and disappointing. It's refreshing to know there is no height requirement to be a good golfer, but disappointing to know I can't say "I'd be a better golf if I was just a hair taller".

We (me, plus Ryan and Ashley) interviewed Charles first and he was a very likable guy. I think it's easy to be very friendly with the media when you're the number 76 golfer in the world because the media demand is not quite as high. Luke, on the other hand, was different. He was very polite and answered every question we asked him, but he was much more reserved. I do think it's part personality differences between Luke and Charles, but I also think it's tough being the #1 golfer in the world and having to fulfill media obligations all the time. He was nice enough to take a picture with me after the interview.

I was able to ask Luke a couple questions so I asked him one serious question and one goofy question submitted by oobers. Thanks to everyone who submitted questions to ask!

Banker85: "What has held you back from winning a Major?"
Hard to tell. I think it does go back to driving a little bit. I think driving is important because it allows you to hit more greens and at majors getting up and down around the greens is a little bit tougher than certain events--a little bit trickier. I've definitely improved that this year. I think my numbers are better, but there's still room for improvement. At Atlanta last month, I hit a few drives that weren't good enough that kind of got me in a bad position.
ilovebacon: "Other than you, who is the best "artist" on the pga tour?"
I don't know who else paints? I haven't painted for a few years now unfortunately. Maybe I'm number one in painting too? Elk's [Steve Elkington] pretty good in drawing?
Luke is referring to Steve's website--secretsinthedirt.com--where he posts cartoons he draws and other stuff. I wish I could somehow transcribe Luke's facial expression when I asked him ilovebacon's question. He looked at my with a look that said (with a British accent) "are you mad?". But, he obliged.

After the interviews, we had a quick bite to eat provided by the Country Club of the South, and then it was off to watch Charles and Luke give a quick short game clinic. Both players provided great tips and I will share the highlights with you. Charles provided instruction of how to hit out of the rough near the green. His advice was two-fold. First, bounce is your friend. He said if you utilize the bounce of your wedge properly, you don't have to worry about making "perfect" contact. And second, error on the more aggressive side. He said so often golfers get nervous when they are hitting from the rough near the green because they don't want the ball to blow by the cup 15-20 feet so they end up deaccelerating through impact, which leads to a duff or a short shot that does reach the green. His advice, if you error on the aggressive side, even if you're ball goes 25 feet past the hole, you still have a chance for a par putt that you could make. And even if you don't make it, you can two putt for bogey. Luke went next and gave a few tips on hitting out of the sand. He said the secret is a shallow divot. He said most golfers put the ball too far back in their stance, which causes golfers to hit down on the ball and leads to a big divot. Fail! His advice is to move the ball as far forward in your stance and open you club face with the goal of taking a small divot.

After the short game clinic concluded, Luke and Charles along with the Mizuno sweepstakes winner and his wife set out for a round of golf. As did I. Ryan Ballengee of ProGolfTalk invited me to play with him and conveniently, I had my sticks in the car! We ran next door to the Country Club of the South and played River Pines Golf. We were told it wasn't a very nice course, but from my perspective, it was a nice course--minus the fact they recently punched the greens. If the greens were normal, I would definitely recommend the course because it features significant elevation changes and challenging hole layouts and we only paid $30 to play!

All in all, it was a great day!

[ comments ]
bkuehn1952 says:
Nice wrap up. Thanks.
Banker85 says:
Very cool! Luke is one of the best out of the bunkers so I will try and remember his tips. Thanks for using my question! He does seem better with the Driver this year. But still no major. I don't know when he will win a major though. My guess would be the US open next year.
homermania says:
Sounds like a great experieince Nathan! Glad you had fun. And yes, always always travel with your clubs.
mjaber says:
You couldn't get Luke to put on an "oobGolf" hat, or shirt?
SD Charlie says:
Great write up here! Good to see these two pros being so generous with their time. They seem like easy-going, genuinely good guys. Those short game tips are also really useful. I'll have to put those in the bank for future use.
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