Perhaps it is not truly a rite of spring, but to me our Canadian Tour coverage signifies our annual crusade of enjoyment. Let's face it, getting paid to cover professional golf tournaments isn't exactly tough duty; it's definitely not brain surgery. It is, as expected, very enjoyable. Anybody who tells you how there's so much more to it than meets the eye; that it's not as glamorous as it looks; that there's a lot of work involved behind the scenes that makes things demanding and trying; or that it's not as much fun as it appears, well, they may have a point, but not a very strong one.
In 2003, The Golf Channel is scheduled to cover six Canadian Tour events, and to our loyal viewers, it's a welcome chance to meet some of the new young talents, as well as catch up with some pretty interesting characters. One such character is Jason Bohn.
Here's a little background information on Jason to refresh our memories: Jason is known to his friends as the luckiest man in North America. While in college, he stumbled to the tee at a hole-in-one challenge after a particularly late night, and he promptly won a million dollars. And he just as promptly turned pro so he could collect on the prize. He's also the guy that proclaimed on national TV a year ago that he's firmly convinced that someday he'll win the lottery. To his friends, that wouldn't come as a surprise.
Jason Bohn is always good for a quote or two, and he's almost always got a one-liner at the tip of his tongue. So it was no surprise when he delivered a crowd-roar-inducing doosie at last week's players meeting.
Since last week was the first official Canadian Tour tournament of the year, a players meeting was scheduled to discuss any and every issue currently facing the tour. In short, it's a chance for players to give their input on any of a number of issues that are mostly out of their control. I've never been too sure what these meetings accomplish, but they're a necessity on every tour.
One subject that was certain to be a hot topic was that of Michelle Wie, the 13-year-old Hawaiian girl that has accepted a sponsors invitation to compete against the male professionals later this year on the Canadian Tour. Needless to say, there was no shortage of players with an opinion on this subject.
After listening to enough concerns and complaints, Hank Kuehne interjected his thoughts. Keep in mind that an undeniable Kuehne family trait is honesty. 'I'll never get caught in a trap if I'm always honest,' Hank told me last week. And I can vouch for the fact that both Hank and his sister Kelly share this trait.
What a nice problem to have--not knowing how to lie.
They both are saavy with the media and they both are aware of the need for political correctness, but at the same time, they never pull any punches.
So when Hank had heard enough, he's reported to have stood and said, 'If you guys are afraid of a 13-year-old girl beating you, then maybe you should consider looking for a different job.'
Oh, how I just love brutal honesty. But let's get back to Jason Bohn.
How does a player respond to Hank's in-your-face reality-inducing opinion? Here's how--with an assessment of these gender-bending uncertain times in professional golf.
The quick-witted Bohn didn't bat an eye before proclaiming his assessment as to perhaps why not everyone in the room agreed with the long-hitting Kuehne's point of view. 'That's easy for you to say Hank. You can out-drive her.'
Needless to say, the room roared.
The Canadian Tour won't see too much of its stars from last year. Kuehne, Jeff Quinney, and Steve Scott all have playing status on the Nationwide Tour and should concentrate the majority of their efforts out there. However, the Canadian Tour itself still has quite a story to tell.
Since becoming involved with The Golf Channel, the Canadian Tour has experienced new levels of legitimacy in terms of how it's viewed by the golf community both at home and abroad. Judging by the numbers of entries at the Winter Qualifying Tournament, the advent of which was necessitated by The Golf Channel exposure, and the level of player who now considers it as a viable option, the Canadian Tour is for real.
'The Golf Channel exposure has been a real boost for us - especially at home where The Golf Channel is huge, said Canadian Tour media relations director Marty 'The Avalanche' Henwood. There's no question about Marty's statement. I have noticed a huge increase in interest in the Canadian Tour by those professional golf insiders with whom I regularly correspond. Given the constantly elevating level of play coupled with The Golf Channel exposure, the Canadian Tour is definitely looking ahead to bigger and better things in the future. I truly think that more tournaments and bigger purses are in their future--their near future.
Just in case you're wondering, Marty Henwood's nickname comes from a little practical joke. In short, if you leave your rental car in the possession of a couple co-workers and a couple Canadian Tour administrators, and they're in the mood for payback after ditching them, then you may be likely to find your rental car 'avalanched' in the morning. Imagine looking into your car as you approach, only to find it full of ice. Yes, full of ice. No, not in bags. No, not just spread around the floor. Full of ice.
After shoveling out enough ice to reach the pedals, I put on my rain suit for driving and thoroughly enjoyed one of the better practical jokes I've been victim to in quite a while. They weren't entirely unthoughtful however; they left my favorite morning drink, a Dr. Pepper, right on top in the middle of the ice. How refreshing to have that nice ice-chilled morning caffeine.