From the Coach’s Office: World class golf events create world class memories
I still remember the first time my Dad took me to what was then the Greater New Orleans Open (GNOO) at Lakewood Country Club in 1965. Dick Mayer won that year by pitching the ball into the hole on the difficult 18th to beat Bruce Devlin and Bill Martindale by one shot.
I still have vivid memories of George Bayer smashing the ball completely out of the back of the practice range. Through the years the images of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Billy Casper, Tom Watson and Lee Trevino still have a place in my memory.
I especially remember watching Gary Player practice bunker shots to the pitching green on the practice area. Player has always been one of the best in the world in the sand and it was a distinct pleasure to watch his technique.
I also remember being able to play in the GNOO in 1973 after winning the Louisiana Open. I did not make the cut, but the memory of playing in a PGA Tour event has been long lasting.
I really wish that I could have seen the tournament when it was played at the City Park Number 1 course. You can still see remnants of the course as well as the clubhouse behind Pan American Stadium.
New Orleans has always been an event city, even more than a sports city. We are especially good at hosting world class events such as the Super Bowl. This week the city once again hosts a truly world class event, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. The TPC of Louisiana is hosting the best players in the world in a unique team format.
The field is absolutely world class. Eighteen of the world’s top 30 started the tournament with a truly international field. In fact, three teams were made up of both members in the world’s top 25.
There is no reason that you cannot get out to the TPC Louisiana and create your own lasting memories. This is especially true if you have children who are interested in the game of golf.
The venue is easy to get to as you can park at the Alario Center and get shuttled to the front of the course. The daily tickets are very affordable at $35 with those 17 and under admitted free with a ticketed adult.
Sunday is a foursome format where the players play one ball, alternating their shots. One player tees off on the odd numbered holes while his partner launches off the even numbered holes. This is a very strategic form of play not to mention difficult. Bogeys or worse can come into play very easily in alternate shot foursomes.
We saw that Friday when Jordan Spieth and his partner Ryan Palmer double bogeyed both the 17th and 18th holes to miss the cut by a shot.
You can expect some wild swings on the leaderboard Sunday.
Get to the venue early and make sure you have a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and great walking shoes. As soon as you arrive get a parings sheet and course map.
Spend some time in the practice area located immediately to your left as you enter the grounds. You not only get to see the best players playing the weekend warm up, but you get to see their technique as well in both the long and short game.
You will be amazed at how far the players hit the ball with apparently little effort. That shows how important good technique is.
As good as their long game is, the shot game of the pros is even better.
You will also be adjacent to the first tee where you can watch the players being announced to their own “walk up music.” This is a first for the PGA Tour and the players are loving every second of it.
Do some advance planning by getting the parings online and highlighting the players you really want to see. Also pay attention to some of the players you don’t know because chances are someone will break out after this week to have an outstanding year.
All of the ingredients are there for a world class Sunday. Great players, an excellent venue that you in fact can play and an exciting format provide the canvas to paint a memorable picture.
Now, go create your own world class memories.
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Rick Gaille has been involved in athletics his entire life, first in the arena as a competitor, later on the sidelines as a coach and now analyzing sports for crescentcitysports.com and WGSO 990AM. As a competitor in golf, Rick was LSUNO’s first athlete, first 1st team All-American (1970) and first three-time All-American (1970, 1971 and 1972). During those years, (LS)UNO…