After I posted this morning, I buzzed over to the range to see who was getting ready to play. I still hadn’t seen the course and I wanted to catch a good group while I was doing my scouting.
My credentials got me inside the ropes, so I strolled up to the far end of the range and back. Swing after swing after swing of purity. Not to them of course, which is why they were all beating balls, but you could hear that crisp contact, watch the signature Tour-pro trajectory and the gentle fall of the ball on the target.
I got a little excited when I saw the bag of the Number one player in the world, Yani Tseng. Her caddie had diligently selected a good piece of grass, stood the bag up by way of claiming it and placed a bag of her brand and type of balls next to it. She was at the top of my list of players I wanted to see play; I wanted to see what the best game in the world looked like. But neither she nor her caddie were anyplace to be seen. So I decided to loiter. Maybe she was on the putting green and I’d missed her.
Not a minute later, the Number five player in the world and Scottsdale resident, Christie Kerr, came striding from the far end. They seem to always walk with a purposefulness to avoid interruptive conversations, but being inside the ropes I took a chance.
“Are you going to play, Christie?”
“Yes,” she politely answered. Oh, my great timing!
She stopped at the exit to sign autographs and then she and her caddie began purposefully striding to the tee. I felt like a stalker; I didn’t want to miss this. And then it got better. They bypassed the 1st tee and headed to the 10th. By the time “we” got there, it was just the three of us. On a gentle, beautiful, morning in the high seventies. Bliss.
There was a threesome in the fairway, so she waited for the twosome on the ninth green to arrive and invited herself into their group.
So I followed her and Mindy Kim and Kyeong Bae for nine holes and here’s the thing you need to know: these ladies could beat almost everyone of you like a drum. Their swings are all a metered, accelerating flow through the ball that separates the ladies from the girls, the men from the boys. Without knowing a thing about golf, you would immediately recognize it as distinctive. And while you might be able to hold that motion in your mind at your home course for a couple of holes or days, you wouldn’t be able to do it over time without the same number of reps that they’ve put in. In the actual tournament, these ladies are stone cold killers and would snuff you like a moth. Fortunately, this was a collegial practice round and no blood was spilled.
So in deciding whether you want to attend a live, LPGA Tour tournament sometime this year, don’t be a swing snob. They may not hit it as far as the men or be as quick and flashy as the men, but you will learn a great deal about the economy of motion it takes to consistently hit fairways and greens without a whole lot of effort and struggle.
Besides, with talk in some quarters of the LPGA Tour being on the brink, it’s an endangered species we wouldn’t want to lose.