The great game of golf: From tee to green

There is a funny thing about golf. It is more than strong shots or strong hands, beautiful knee action, smooth and self assured putting attributes or strokes. A tough player hides it well by acting nonchalant, whistling and laughing in the middle of tournaments.  But in his mind, he is always calculating the next shot, never panicking when things got a little tough.

I remember that early morning at Tagaytay Highlands International Golf Club which then the biggest local golf lure.  The members organized warm hearted welcome for former President Fidel V. Ramos and the King of Malaysia Yang de Pertuan aging Azlan Sha, who  jointly  inaugurated the club.

The club has its own unbelievable charm and beauty, offering eye catching views at almost every turn.  The two honored guests then proceeded to play an 18-hole game with boon companion, on the golf course designed by Arnold Palmer.

Every game, regardless of participants, start at the ceremonial tee off. Sometimes the air had the bite that knifed lungs and tingled bare skin at other times, or wind gusts that threatened to blow off anyone’s freckles during the hot summer.

There is always a calm expectancy as everyone watches to see a celebrity golfer’s smooth back swing, or a player’s famous liquid swing. Even as balls slid or meander entertainingly on the hilly terrain, winding down in pastoral peace where lakes had claimed more balls than any distraught golfer would admit, it’s not uncommon to see players scramble on their par at any given hole. Conversation (if there was any) was always, always formal and polite.

There are explosion shots of sand traps from colorful and attractive players, while celebrity  champs exude an air of authority with their booming drives.

Once they are on the green, they usually study their shots by walking around, talking to their caddy, and then mark their balls on the green. But with golf champs, that abuse on the green was absent — champions are past putters!

There are always the most tantalizing holes in any fairway, and the hollow form of a narrow bounce is almost hypnotizing. Don’t discount the possibilities of the approach on a high plateau with its loyal traps, guiding the elevation into more unseen hollow, not to mention, numerous hills, gullies, shrubs, trees and banks that are abound.

Tiger Woods’ trademark above the green, is always to groove a straight through and card a par even against a strong breeze.  Playing uphill to a plateau green, he would remarkably birdie senior players.  He has to know the exact yardage and lives for every shot, every subtlety, nuances before hitting the ball.  Chips shots are always instinctive.

It is a game of silence and outmost dignity.  The sound of the sand wedge that practiced a stroke is the only sound you can hear, or an audible click as the ball creeps.  Pitching on the down slope has a rifle shot effect on the green. It forwarded into a leisurely fashion, then unbelievably checked on the second  bounce before trickling up within three feet of the hole.  Everyone screamed in silence. That was how Harry Nacionales bugged the championship last week at the golf course .

Golf guru Rey Romero sat down with us to give pointers during an interview at the Shoal Golf course.  He said there are no mechanics and theories on how a “swing” really works.  There is no kind of solid, bottomline information that will “improve your game, and the golf swing is just one part of the game.”  It is important to play the game your way, what is most comfortable to you and how you’re made up, both physically and mentally.

A multiple golf champ himself, Romero added that you concentrate on course management – using every advantage a particular hole can give you.

Meanwhile, the golfer at home doesn’t hit the booming drives he used to. He faced a dog leg or sliced shots without moaning, nor did he anguished over a frustrating score.  He just has a predilection for just an easy, swing to the green, into accurate putting game.

He is a master at enjoying both life and a game of golf, that made it easy for this golf widow of 15 years.

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