It was a few years back that I became interested in golf. I had never hit a golf ball (unless it was miniature golf as a young boy) and had no interest until I started paying attention to the game on TV.
Last year, a friend invited me on a trip to the beautiful Hawaiian island of Lanai. There was a catch though. I had to play golf with a group of travel and golf writers. Imagine the horror I felt having never played golf, let alone taken a swing with a club at a ball.
Here I am presented with the trip of a lifetime, knowing full well that if I was to play with this group, it would be entirely possible that I would experience a slip off one of the cliffside holes or maybe a bit of arsenic in my drink, as the group are all really good at golf and would have zero tolerance for a hack like me.
In pleading my case to my friend, she gave me the opportunity to take a lesson instead. That was music to my ears. I had so much fun hitting buckets of balls and seeing how far they would go and, in almost every case, how far astray they went. I was laughing out loud at myself as to how bad I was. After a couple hours of putting practice and hitting balls, we then played a hole. That’s when it got me. I hit one off the tee and it went far and, for once, straight. It took me many putts to finish the hole but that was a ton of fun. I loved it.
As I watched the Masters a few weeks ago, I had no idea that this particular tournament would go down as one of the greatest sporting events one could ever witness. I have been rooting for Tiger Woods to become great and win again for years. I like the underdog scenario. I have many friends who are not fans of Tiger, but I have never faltered in my respect for him as a supreme golfer and competitor.
When he made his moves up the leaderboard on Sunday, while the other leaders were hitting balls in the water, it became almost magical, as the old Tiger was seemingly back. The huge roar of the crowd for his play was something to behold. His smiles and true appreciation for what was happening was so cool to see. The final shot on 18 to close it out created a hysteria and frenzy as he had done it. He won a Major. Not just any Major, but the Masters.
Seeing his infectious joy and his honest appreciation for what he had done is a highlight reel that has played in my head many times since. One of the greatest moments in sports for me.
This brings me to the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. This is going to be amazing. The glorious Pebble Beach turns 100 this year and hosts the U.S Open and Tiger, fresh off his Masters victory, will create a buzz and level of excitement like nothing we have ever seen. I can’t wait!
It was in 2000 that we featured a young Tiger Woods on the cover of Carmel Magazine and he went on to win the U.S. Open at Pebble by a huge margin that year. Now let’s see if he can do it again.