By Mike Jennings
Every time I watch a golf tournament on television, I have to chuckle.
I have been around golf my whole life, and I have to tell you, what you see on TV is not even close to what a real round of golf is like. I think it’s most comical when you compare the “pro” golfer to what I like to call a “real” golfer.
For starters, the “pro” golfer can wear a pair of white slacks without incident. A “real” golfer would never do that. In fact, that would be considered a fashion faux pas, because after three or four holes, those pants would be so dirty even a good “granny scrubbing” could not get them clean again.
“Pro” golfers roam the course with a bag full or pristine Pro V1s. “Real” golfers can often be found foraging in the overgrowth for more ammunition. The same goes for broken tees, which can often be prized possessions for “real” golfers, especially if there is a par-3 coming up. And while “pro” golfers graze on bananas and mixed nuts expertly selected by their nutritionists, the “real” golfer is scarfing down chilidogs at the turn.
If you encounter a herd of “pro” golfers in their natural habitat, keep in mind they are easily spooked by sudden movements. Even the slightest noise may break their concentration. “Real” golfers are subjected to car horns, cart reverse buzzers, random people shrieking “fore” as they cruise by on the highway, the hum of mowing equipment or the rumbling of a playing partner’s stomach after one too many chilidogs. Most “real” golfers would be hard-pressed to hit a shot in complete silence.
The “pro” golfer relies on a personal assistant, a manager, a swing coach, a short-game coach, a caddie and a sports psychologist. The “real” golfer relies on the Golf Channel. The “pro” golfer strides majestically down the fairway, shirt tucked into their white pants without any signs of sweat. The “real” golfers sweat profusely and use their untucked shirttail to keep the sweat out of their eyes. Walking? Maybe from the parking lot to the clubhouse, but a “real” golfer would be speed dialing an Uber by the third hole if forced to walk the course.
But before getting too jealous of the glamorous life enjoyed by a “pro” golfer, the “real” golfer should also remember that the “pro” golfer plays golf for a living. The “real” golfer plays for fun. For the “pro” golfer, it is possible one bad shot can negatively impact his whole life.
The Web.com tour is considered the “minor” leagues for professional golfers, and they hold an event in Knoxville once a year. A couple weeks ago, a qualifier was held in Oak Ridge where 110 golfers were playing for six spots in the tournament. By the end of the day, it took a 64 to get into a playoff to earn one of the spots in the main event. Could you imagine having to shoot 63 just to be assured of a chance to play in the tournament?
When you add up the cost of travel, food, entry fee and hotel costs, there were players who shot 64 and walked away empty-handed. That sounds like a “real” struggle.
I’m not the smartest guy in town, but I’ve gotta tell you – I think the “real” golfers have it pretty good.
Mike Jennings is the head golf professional at Pine Oaks Golf Course. For more information on instruction or events at Pine Oaks, call (423) 434-6250.