In honor of Golf Tips Top 25 Instructor Rob Labritz’s sixth trip to the PGA Championship this week, I’m honored and proud to turn over my semi-regular blog to him during tournament week. The New Yorker, who’s the Director of Golf at Glenarbor Golf Club in Pound Ridge, is gearing up for a “home game” in front of family and friends just 45 minutes from where he lives and works. Every day he’s in mix he’ll provide a PGA Championship diary of his experience on and around Bethpage Black.
We got out early today on Bethpage Black, after it rained all day yesterday and didn’t get much above 40 degrees. I got in 18 with my old friend Rich Beem, who won the PGA some years back, and we played every hole all the way back — almost one foot in the rough. In 69 competitive rounds here, I’d never done that before.
In fact, I’ve never played a course this long, anywhere. On No. 2, a dogleg-left par 4 that’s not all that long, I NEVER hit driver, usually a nice hybrid around the corner, but today I had to. And then I had an 8-iron in. No. 7, usually a par 5, is playing as a 525-yard par 4.
The course is beautiful, as good as any private course you’ll ever see. The fairways are nice and wide, but it’s very soft and you’re not getting any roll. The conditions out there are amazing — even if your ball plugs there’s no mud on it, the turf is so good. Kerry Haigh, the PGA of America’s director of agronomy, and his crew are absolutely the best.
The greens are fairly fast even with the rain. And the rough isn’t long like you’d see in the U.S. Open — I wasn’t here for the Open in 2009, but I know it was long — but it’s SO thick. The ball drops straight to the bottom. Still, again, it’s beautiful.
The crowds are great already — New Yorkers out there on a Monday, cheering on the players even in the rain.
My caddie, Todd Luigi, is doing a great job for me. We’ve been together for nine years, and he loves being out there with me. He’s from Long Island, a returned Nassau policeman, so he really knows the layout. And he knows my game too, of course.
Tomorrow I’m going to visit the Titleist fitting tent and play around with some different woods. Right now I have a 21-degree hybrid, like a 4-iron, a 15-degree 3-wood and a 9-degree driver. I’m looking for a club that will give me a consistent 235 yards, because I’m seeing a lot of those long second shots — 190 to 235 yards — so I need that in my bag.
Either way, Todd will have me ready to go at 6:45 a.m. Thursday. I’m the first to tee off on No. 1 with Beau Hossler and J.J. Spaun.
Actually, I’m ready to go now.