Probably the best perk of a media pass is the “inside-the-ropes” access we get. Today I wanted to give you, the reader, a glimpse into what a day with Jordan Spieth on the course would be like. And what a day it was. A relatively new pro-am rule dictates that each group of four is assigned two pros for the day. One on the front-nine and one on the back. This particular group was teeing off the 10thtee at Noon with Jordan Spieth for the back and then Brian Stuard for the front. Wondering what a day like this might cost? Apparently $28,000 for a foursome. So unless you have that, this is the next best thing. Here is how my two-and-a-half hours with Jordan Spieth went down:
As the first group in the afternoon wave off the back-nine, fans had plenty of time to get stationed around the 10thtee for as the starter put it, “Someone who is pretty popular.” That person of course was Jordan Spieth. Jordan sort of appeared from nowhere with a MASSIVE sandwich for his caddie Michael Greller. It looked delicious.
He then proceeded to rip his drive down the middle and was off to a good start.
His approach was a bit short and right of the green, and after a mediocre pitch he faced this for par. Watch for the little jig he does.
Not much action here to report. Jordan missed the fairway on the left by a few feet, followed by an approach that found the front collection area of the green. This lag putt would lead to a tap-in-par.
One thing that started to become increasingly evident at this point in the round was how many kids wanted his autograph. In typical Jordan fashion he handled everyone well; knowing he couldn’t stop to sign until they had caught up to the group ahead of them he must have uttered this exact phrase 20-30 times over the next two hours:
“Sorry guys, you’ll have to be patient with me. Once we catch up to the group ahead of us I will sign for everyone.”
20-30 might even be an understatement.
The tee shot:
Textbook. It also became abundantly clear to me on this hole that Jordan (and his caddie Michael for that matter) were outstanding with their group. Talking, laughing, walking together, having solo conversations with each guy; it was a nice sight. Here is some proof:
Jordan would hit his approach shot within birdie range, but yet again missed the putt.
The 13th Hole at Harbour Town is really cool. You’ll see once we get to the green, but first watch this pure swing:
Ok here’s what I mean. Check out this green complex:
It’s beginning to get repetitive, but again Jordan hit a nice approach shot to within birdie range. How about the putt this time? See for yourself:
A beautiful par-3. I couldn’t get back to where the pro tees were, but check out all the fans in that one little corner
How nice is this?
Jordan’s putting would let him down yet again as you’ll see here. Technically it was a three-putt but in his defense he really didn’t try on the second putt. He even told the scorer he’s “giving himself that one.”
The 15this a pretty daunting looking hole from tee-to-green. So daunting that Jordan wasn’t even aware he could possibly reach in two. This was his exchange with his caddie on the tee box:
Jordan – “Mike is there ANY chance it’s reachable?”
Mike – “Yeah if you hit it 300 you’ve got 256 left”
Jordan (with a shocked tone) – “Oh!”
And the corresponding tee shot:
Interesting tidbit I overheard while Jordan and Michael walked off the tee. Apparently Jordan made a bet with his buddy that Columbus would beat Tampa Bay in the first round of the NHL Playoffs. Michael didn’t believe it at first but Jordan seemed adamant. Is there anything this guy can’t do?!
Anyways, that pushed tee shot left him here. But he made a miraculous punch-out recovery.
And the approach:
Which left him this for birdie:
Despite the miss, walking through this crowd on the way to the 16thhole would have to make anyone feel pretty good. Side note, I ALSO got fist bumps from all these kids and it made me feel like a million bucks.
After a perfect tee-ball on 16, here was the approach:
He would cash that putt for a much needed birdie, and with some time to kill before teeing off on the next hole he chipped around to a few of the upcoming pin positions for the week.
Another gorgeous hole. As they waited to tee off though, Jordan and Michael were asked where amongst all of the caddies Michael would rank as a golfer. Jordan surmised that if there are 200 caddies, Michael is top-20. Michael on the other hand was confident he wouldn’t be any better than top 75-100. Here’s the tee-ball:
As promised, now that his group had caught up to the one ahead, he was able to sign autographs for all of his loyal followers. To say it was pandemonium would be an understatement. No word of a lie, the little girl on his right side in this picture screamed “My heart is bursting right now!” after he signed her flag. That wasn’t it either. Girls were fanning over this guy all day. The amount of times I heard “He’s so hot” was jarring. Not because he isn’t good looking; he is. But you hear that phrase enough times and you hope just ONCE it will be directed towards you. Nope, not today!
Oh right, the picture:
As for where the tee ball actually went, it ended up in the front left bunker. Jordan and Michael had a pretty intense discussion about alignment afterwards and it ended with Jordan proclaiming, “My alignment is KILLING me!”
His chipping wasn’t though. A great bunker shot left a tap-in par and we were off the the signature 18th Hole
As luck would have it, my phone died while they were waiting to tee off on the 18thhole. Bummer. My one saving grace was a nice lady named Taylor who works for the PGA Tour Digital Team (Shout out Taylor Crosby; Thank you!!) was also there on the hole taking pictures and video of Jordan and agreed to send me the photos she had taken. I wasn’t able to get the videos, which is completely understandable since they’re going to use them. It would’ve been great to show you this one moment that happened after they teed off though. There was a spectator tent beside the tee box and about 10-15 ladies came out and begged Jordan to come over to take pictures. Once he obliged they all pointed out the one girl who LOVES him and I’ve never seen someone’s face go so red. It was hilarious.
As we were walking up the hole I asked Jordan how he felt watching Francesco Molinari dump it in the water on 12 last Sunday at Augusta. Bit of a risky question in hindsight since it brings up probably his worst moment, but he just smirked and said, “We’re all feeling for him. It can happen to anyone, it’s such a hard hole.”
As for the 18th hole, he hit a great tee shot and then this approach:
Followed by this chip to tap-in range:
And again keeping his promise, he spent a long time signing autographs for this huge crowd after finishing 18.
As for score, he was 1-under on the day. I’m glad I was able to see his game up close and personal because I had a couple of distinct takeaways. One, he has an excellent on-course demeanour. Whether with the fans, or himself and Michael, the whiny reputation he has gotten at times in the past did not come through at all today.
Two, the putting “thing” with him, is real. There were multiple putts he missed today that I fully expected to drop and further to that he just didn’t look nearly as confident over putts as he did over chip and pitch shots. His full swing and approach game were pretty solid, just what you would expect, but his putting was still a little bit suspect.
So there you have it. Nine holes, 150 minutes, and a lot of fun. Hope you enjoyed reading it nearly as much as I did making it.
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