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An Experience of a Lifetime

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When you walk around the Greenbrier you can’t help but notice all the history.  After all, the hotel itself is over 200 years old and the property has been seeing visitors for nearly 230 years.  The same goes for the golf course.  In 1979 the Ryder Cup was played at the Greenbrier but it was a man by the name of Samuel Jackson Snead that made this golf course worthy of hosting such a prestigious event.

When Sam Snead called the Greenbrier home, it had two elite golf courses, Old White TPC and the Greenbrier course.  On this particular show, we played on their member’s only course apply named the Snead Course.  It was a course designed by Tom Fazio and dedicated to the Slammer when it was completed in 2005. The greens on this course would make any golfer cringe and weep based on their undulations and speed.  The player’s seemingly handled them pretty well.

It was an incredible honor to meet the son of a legend – someone who had a front row seat to golfing history.  When Sam Snead, Jr. came on set you definitely could see and feel a change in the players’.  Each of them recalled the meeting the best experience of their Big Break trip.  Here is a quick bio sheet on the great Samuel Jackson Snead:

• 82 PGA Tour wins
• 7 career major victories (only the US Open eluded him – finished 2nd four times)
• 135 ‘unofficial’ PROFESSIONAL wins (many experts believe Sam deserves to have over 90 PGA Tour wins)
• Only man to win LGPA (unofficial event – funny story as Jason Sobel writes)
• Oldest player to make cut at US Open (61 years old – ’73 at Oakmont, same event Johnny Miller won by shooting a final round 63)
• Had 3-consecutive top-ten finishes at the PGA Championship from 1972-1974 at the ages of 60, 61 and 62.
• Had 10 rounds of 59, including several three-putts on the 18th hole at Old White TPC to shoot 60.
• Was said to have made a hole-in-one with EVERY club in the bag (except putter) 7 career hole in ones on the 18th hole at Old White TPC (famous finishing hole)
• 16-time winner of the West Virginia Open
• Could shoot his age well into his 60’s – including 66 in a PGA Tour event

Sam Snead was quoted once as recalled by GolfChannel.com’s own Mercer Baggs in this article, “If it’s recognition that you want for your generosity, then it’s not charity.” When I read that quote, I thought of how generous it was for Sam Jr. to accept Big Break’s offer to come and meet with the cast at 6:45 in the morning (which included a 45-minute drive for Jack- as he’s known).  Rick called this the coolest thing he’d done on Big Break so far – Mark (ever the historian) kept asking questions while the guys sat around with Sam after the on-camera meeting was finished.  Although Sam Jr. had other appointments that day, he stuck around as long as he could sharing in “Dad’s” legacy.  Here are few stories that didn’t make air.

In 1961, when Sam shot that amazing combined score of 122 for two rounds (still a record) he received a telegram from Queen Elizabeth congratulating him and he received a phone call from President Kennedy. Anytime you can go that low, I guess it would be fitting for two of the most famous world leaders to call you up and say, “JOB-WELL DONE!”

Despite Sam’s unique ability to hit golf balls with incredible precision and after a lifetime of honing that craft on the practice range, Sam Jr. said his father’s hands were as soft as a baby’s bottom.  Sam kept his fitness and strength in such incredible shape by chopping wood.  In fact, until the day Sam died, he could still put the back’s of his hand flat on the ground by simply bending from the waist.  There were a few other stories (none of which can be told here) that will simply have to for the ear’s of my Saturday foursome.

ONTO THE ACTION:
Chan’s antics in this show really upset Brian and it was something that Brian talked about with Chan at dinner that night.  Brian is a guy that is all about respect and appreciation.  While he appreciated Chan’s excellent play that lead to an easy day for the 44-year old touring pro… the over celebration was TOO much for Coop.  Look for this storyline to continue in next week’s episode.

Anthony DOES NOT believe in himself at all… and it’s something to notice going forward.  He’s a very good player that steps up in big situations… unfortunately today he got by with a little help from his friends and a Mike missed putt.

Mike’s putt measured about 2 feet, 9 inches. And before you label Mike anything along the lines of a CHOKER… I want you (for the next 4 rounds of golf… don’t cheat) to putt EVERYTHING out.  No gimmees, no ‘inside the leather’, no ‘I’ve got to hurry, the group behind is catching up’ and certainly no ‘That’s good’.  Count how many ‘two footers’ you miss.  After those 4 rounds, email me (bigbreak@golfchannel.com) or post it on Facebook… how many you made out of how many you missed.  If you are at 100%, I will arrange for you to chat with me and Mike and you can call him all the words you’d like… until then, please lay off the harsh words… after all the guy’s heart was just broken all over again having to relive it the week he’s going to 1st stage of Qualifying school.

Mike Tobiason’s resume speaks for itself.  He had 23 collegiate victories, has 5 professional victories on assorted mini-tours and a missed cut at the US Open by 3 shots. This guy will play on the PGA Tour – my words have been marked.  In fact, Michael Breed called Mike the best ball striker out of all the cast members. 

Quick recap about James’ saucer pass / chipping style.  James Lepp uses this technique because he HAS to… not because he wants to look cool on TV. James only uses this chipping style on the fairway, fringe and only a few times in very light rough. Dating back to college James always had an issue with chipping the golf ball.  Being a pretty decent hockey player James was competing in a heated chipping contest with Brendan Steele (PGA Tour winner) while they were both on the Canadian Tour in 2007… here ‘s how the chipping style emerged as told to our interview producer Bobby Lataille by James in his interview:

The saucer pass originated a few years ago. Brendan Steele and I we were goofing off after a Monday qualifier on the Web.com Tour. We both missed the cut to it make the tournament and what started as a simple chipping competition and eventually escalated where we’re trying to find crazier shots where we are getting up against trees and ball washers and seeing how far we can actually hit a ball with no back swing. We both have a hockey background (He’s a Kings fan and played a little growing up / I’m a Canucks fan and I’ve played hockey for a long time) and were doing these snap shots wrist shots and ended up being kind of like this little slide of the club into the ball to try to hit it far off of a pretty tight lie and I remember hitting it and hitting a good shot and I was like man that felt great. Then we go back to the fringe and we’re like maybe there is a system for this. You take it back six inches slide it through the ball to see how far does it go and we’re like it goes the same distance every time. (30 feet is about seven inches, 35 feet was like eight inches), so there is a mathematical explanation for this and it was so simple for me. I started kind of playing with it a little bit more and I was like this is ridiculously efficient, this works!  I’ve always had a little bit of trouble chipping off of tight lies and the saucer pass is perfect for that tight lie. You've got to be so precise if you’re going to chip it normally because you only have so much room for error. In the rough the ball could be sitting up and you could hit four inches behind it but the rough gives you that room for error to chip it normally but on the fairway you hit four inches behind you have a chance of chunking it and then you might react knowing that you could chunk that and then you skull it, so the saucer pass you have this much room for error.

Ray Beaufils hit one of the prettiest shots I’ve ever seen up close in all my golfing life.  His 4-iron from 234 yards from the fairway bunker was insanely good.  Under the circumstances he was looking at his opponent Mike with an easy chance to hit the green in two – Ray chose to go for the glory shot.  The lip on that bunker would make most grown men cry… for Ray, he laughed at it and skied a 4-iron that was in the air for 8 seconds.  Normally when I see a ball travel that high, that quickly it goes no-where but he flew it 218 yards… uphill… into the wind.  Quite tasty!

Another great day of golf… great play from the majority of the cast and another elimination where birdie decides who stays and who is eliminated. 

See you next week!

TJ Hubbard