This was an introduction I wrote January 23, 2012 to an interview that Karen Crouse did in the New York Times on Brandel Chamblee, the former PGA Tour player and current commentator on The Golf Channel.
I have no idea when or what attracted me to Brandel Chamblee, but I have been a fan going back to before he won his first and only PGA Tour tournament, the 1998 Greater Vancouver Open.
And so early in my attempt to qualify to play on the Champions Tour, when he showed up at Desert Mountain with his coach to play our Apache Course, I told him what I was up to and invited myself into his tee time. One of the staff guys also found out about his generosity and did the same. So it was Brandel and his coach against the Desert Mountain guys. For a buck. We all had a wonderful time, nobody paid the bets, but I bought lunch when we were done.
To that day’s memories, I would add that he made the most amazing par I ever saw on the par-5 18th hole.
He drove it out onto the last knoll before the fairway tips over for the long run down to the deep desert wash at the bottom. From where he was to the front of the green was about 245 yards, the last 50 across that wash.
He had just added a new rescue club to his bag back when they had just become all the rage. There seemed so much certitude in the way he pulled that club…and went for it. His certitude was well justified.
Not only did he carry the front, he flew it onto the back left green, one-hopped it onto the cart path behind and one more down into the dense desert scrub below that.
Since there was a whole buck on the line, he managed to take an unplayable lie that got him back on the cart path where it bent around his briar patch, some five to ten feet below the green. He played his lob wedge crisply off the cart path — and as this story obviously must end — onto the green and made the putt for par.
But it is amazing how our memories fall into place. For me, it was a you-gotta-be-kidding-me par. It wasn’t that he’d played it off the cart path per se — I’d had to do that myself — it was the swashbuckling way that he did it. For him, it was just another shot challenge taken on from somewhere deep inside of him…and then it was gone.
The reason I know this is that I ran into him in the media room at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February, reintroduced myself and reminded him of his wizardry. But it was gone for him. But it did please him that I had remembered and he was his charming, gracious self as he thanked me for recounting it for him.
All of this as yet another introduction, this time to, “My Shot: Brandel Chamblee,” a Golf Digest interview by Guy Yokum. This one is great because it’s a series of stories Brandel tells during the course of the interview…without the interview itself. So it reads like he’s writing them himself which, in effect, he is.
They are all short, engaging vignettes that run the wide gamut of all that golf is and can be. And it is a deep vein; it runs to four pages and there wasn’t one that I would have edited out. This guy is one of the top commentators on golf right now and this tapestry interview about his upbringing, junior golf, college golf, Tour golf and all that he saw and thought about it helps to explain why he is one of the best.