King of the Range Rats


CROMWELL, Conn. – Back in the old days PGA Tour players had to pay for their practice balls just like everybody else. And often times 'practice balls' consisted of red-stripers reclaimed from golf course ponds.

That is certainly not the case these days. Can you imagine one of those big range ball dispensers on the practice tee at the Memorial? It would be pretty cool if the range tokens at Muirfield Village had Jack Nicklaus stamped on them like an ancient Roman coin with Julius Caesar. You would get two free tokens when you register for the tournament and for more you would have to feed dollar bills into the machine near the putting green that spits out the tokens. I guess that's a little far-fetched.

So what if the PGA Tour charged a 'range fee' just like many private clubs? And what if that fee was based on usage? Who would get the highest bill for the year? For a long time that honor would have gone to Vijay Singh. Recent injuries and surgeries have dethroned 'King Singh of the Range Rats.' Based on what I saw Thursday Prince Paddy has ascended to the crown. After completing his round, press duties and lunch, Harrington was the first player to hit the range after waiting out a 90-minute rain delay. Most players would have been long gone after seeing the threatening skies, but not Paddy.

The freshly crowned ruler has to set a shining example for his newly acquired realm. After all, King of the Range Rats is a full time job. And they all lived happily ever after … except for having to deal with persistent hand blisters and calluses.