Golf Channel on NBC Analyst Gary Koch is in Orlando, Florida this week for coverage of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Koch won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 1977 and 1984 and earlier this week he was inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame. Roger Maltbie inducted him and Roger actually stole the show so when he made his acceptance speech, he had quite an act to follow.
When he was a senior in high school, he played in an exhibition with Arnold Palmer and Gary Player. Koch and Player were teammates against Palmer and his playing partner and Koch was a part of the winning team. After the match, Palmer wished him the best of luck. Years later when Koch won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 1977, the first thing Palmer did during the trophy ceremony was tell the crowd that he played in an exhibition with Gary when Gary was a senior in high school. That says everything about who Arnold Palmer is.
Unlike when he played on the PGA TOUR, the practice range today looks like a convention as players on tournament days are surrounded by their swing coaches and managers and psychologists and various other people. When he played on the PGA TOUR, players tended to practice by themselves with only their caddies and would rarely work with their swing coaches on tournament days. Swing coaches were utilized during practice days only with rare exceptions.
Arguably the most memorable call of Gary’s career was in the 2001 PLAYERS when he said that Tiger’s putt at 17 was “better than most.” He had received information from producer Tommy Roy about how players were performing on the green that day so when Tiger hit his putt, he and Johnny Miller both knew that the putt, at least in the beginning, was better than most. By the time the ball reached the hole, Gary was standing up he was so excited. After Tiger gave his fist pump, the NBC announcers stayed silent for about a minute because there was nothing else to add to the moment.
Koch has spent a lot of time with Sean Foley and he likes what he is seeing with the changes in Tiger Woods’ swing. He thinks that Tiger’s swing is a lot efficient under Foley than it was under Hank Haney and we are seeing proof of the successful changes as Tiger is playing well more often and more consistently. He has long supported Tiger’s decision to become a student of Sean Foley and he would be very surprised if Tiger were not in contention with Rory McIlroy late in The Masters in two weeks.