The Pro-Am Gang
The amateurs in today’s HSBC Women’s World Championship pro-am were having the time of their lives, even if they mostly had to suffer the tortures of the damned on the first tee. The women professionals were doing their best to make them feel at ease but, as often as not, even the simple task of teeing up the ball had otherwise successful men looking as if they had been asked to balance their Titleists on a needle.
To all round relief, the tension seemed to evaporate once that opening shot was done. They were on their way…
Angela Stanford, the reigning Evian champion, will tell you that the women of the LPGA women make for the best pro-am partners in the world. “I can’t tell you how often amateurs will say to me how much they prefer playing with the women,” she ventured.
“In the LPGA,” she explained, “we tend to work as a team. Its important to us to have a good relationship with our pro-am partners and to say the right things. The men might get away with saying the wrong thing to some sponsor-in-the-making but we can’t afford to do that… To be fair, our girls are nice people; they care about their pro-am partners and they want them to have a great day.”
Stanford says the first thing she does is to find out what her men (it’s usually men) want from their outing. Some might like a few tips, others might prefer to chat. Again, she did not deny that there are those who come along with a view to bashing the odd tee shots past their professionals – and being able to boast about it for weeks to come. “Mercifully,” said Stanford, “that’s not something I have to worry about. Since I’m a relatively short hitter, they’re not going to have too much of a challenge in knocking the ball past me. It’s players like Brittany Lincicome and Lexi Thompson who get caught up in all that.”
Canada’s Brooke Henderson, who completed her pro-am round before lunch, is a great believer in the Stanford theory that the pro-am is not about you, the player. Henderson could have written an essay on her three companions of the day, knowing as she did where they had come from, what they did by way of a living and where they played their golf. As you would expect, she had made particular friends with the Canadian in the mix. They had discussed their endless travel schedules – and both had sworn that there were blessed rather than cursed in that direction.
So what do the average pro-am partners want to know about her?
“The question I get asked all the time is whether or not I feel I’ve missed out in not going to university – and I can tell them with absolute honesty that I don’t. I feel I’m in the right place at the right time.” As well she might in that, at the age of 21, she has won seven LPGA titles including a major in the Women’s PGA championship. As for prize-money, she has amassed a little matter of $4,908,363.
A passing caddie, who had just finished his day’s work explained how he gets involved with his player’s pro-am guests. “I present them with a challenge for each of the four short holes which they love. I say that the one who finishes furthest from the hole will have to carry my player’s clubs up the hole – and that if they all make the green, the player has to carry them herself.”
The way it usually goes is that they will all miss the putting surface with room to spare and he, the caddie, is able to save his back at four holes out of the 18.