Wachovia the Fifth Major

By Michael CollinsMay 1, 2008, 4:00 pm
Editor's note: Michael Collins has been a stand-up comedian for 15 years and has more than seven years experience as a professional caddie. He currently covers the PGA TOUR as a correspondent with XM Satellite Radio and takes his turn on The Turn Mondays on GOLF CHANNEL.
 
What makes great golf? What makes a great course? Do you like seeing guys making lots of birdies or do you wanna see guys struggle to make pars?
 
This week we are playing the Wachovia Championship in Charlotte, NC. This is a tournament that after the first year it was played was being talked about as the fifth major. I'm sure the suits at Ponte Vedra were none too pleased to hear that kind of talk. But what did Quail Hollow do that made them so special so fast? I call it 'The Total Package.
 
First, and most importantly, the course. Quail Hollow has that perfect mixture of long and short holes; the trick is they all make you think. No. 6 is a 250-yard downhill par-3 that's surrounded by trees (makes the wind swirl). Yesterday during the pro-am I'm standing on the tee talking to guys who hate this hole and I LOVED it! One guy said, 'It's a green designed for a 7-iron and we're hitting 3-woods into it. It's bull...!' I looked him in the eyes and said, 'Well then you shouldn't hit your 3-wood as high as my 7 iron.' Everyone standing on the tee laughed except the pro. Ooops.
 
But the hole right afterwards is a reachable par-5. See, give and take is what golf is to me and this course is just that. Give me a couple of holes that I think I could make birdie on, then gimme me a couple of those holes that I can watch guys slam clubs into the ground, get caught cursing on TV about, and just look like, 'What the heck do I do here?' Of course that's me 'the fan' talking; me 'the caddy' has a love-hate relationship with the course.
 
The second thing that makes this tournament the best is the treatment, across the board, of the people. Yes, we hear all the time about the perks for the players and their families. But this tournament goes three steps further. It takes care of the players, caddies, volunteers and fans. Don't have a ticket to the tournament? Not to worry in Charlotte, just go to the event and when someone leaves you can buy the ticket they just used for like 10 bucks! Yep, like waiting for someone to get back from test driving a car and getting to buy the car at a discount. There's even valet parking for the caddies! Something you don't like about the set up? Tell them and they listen, imagine.... REAL customer service at a golf tournament!?
 
And, of course, I wouldn't be a caddie if I didn't mention the attractiveness of the crowds. I gotta tell you, every week in the caddie trailer and locker room we argue about which tournament has the best looking crowd. I say Charlotte wins, hands down. Many have argued that Phoenix (FBR) or Dallas (Bryon Nelson) should be ranked higher but I say they rank 3rd and 4th, respectively.
 
What makes this week so good: natural beauty - can someone be as beautiful getting out of the shower as they were going in? Or is paint thinner required before calling it a night? Does the one you're looking at outside the ropes have all their own parts or were some purchased at Wal-Mart? Do the majority of said spectators have on shoes appropriate for a golf tournament? Yes, we look. Guys don't come to a tournament wearing your golf shoes; you don't look 'cool.' You look like you think by some miracle of God someone is gonna ask you to play (cause you know you have your clubs in the trunk of your car). Let that dream go, it ain't gonna happen.
 
And ladies if you're wearing heels at a golf tournament, yeah we're looking at you, but not cause you're cute. We're trying to figure out which hole you're gonna fall down on or which hole we can see you in the medical tent getting band-aids for your blisters. Heels at a golf course don't make you look sexy; they make you look stupid. This tournament has the least amount of amazing looking stupid people.
 
Could there be a 5th major? How mad would THE PLAYERS be if another tournament took that titl, they assumed was their birth right, and it's the week before? I don't know. I'm not even trying to get into that argument. I just know a great golf event when I get to one.
 
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.