Yesterday I went to the Cambia Classic in Portland, a new sponsor for the longest-running non-major tournament in LPGA golf. Here are a few of my observations.
– It had been about a dozen years since I saw the women play. It is very different now. They hit the ball hard. 250 off the tee isn’t long. It’s not even the middle of the pack. It’s not your mother’s LPGA any more.
– Brooke Henderson is not very big. She takes the club back slowly, then WHAM going down. She’s the 9th longest driver on the Tour.
– I saw both Anne Van Dam and Angel Yin, the two longest hitters on the Tour, who both average over 280 yards off the tee. Ouch. Poor golf ball.
– Even Morgan Pressel, who topped out at 235 in her early days, now averages almost 260.
– They all pay very careful attention to their setup. They set up deliberately, precisely, and each follows her setup procedure the same way every time.
– Remember the suspension point? With the exception of a very few golfers who launch their lower body into the forward swing, EVERY player kept her suspension point still. EVERY player.
– Most of the players pick the ball cleanly off the ground. The sound is a gentle crack. Lexi Thompson, however, hit the ball hard and the ground hard. It was loud, and after a day of relatively quiet strikes, startling.
– Most, but not all, of the players started getting ready for a shot from the fairway while someone else was hitting so when it was their turn, they were ready. Only one player, Suzann Pettersen, did this on the putting green as well.
– They hold the club firmly, but gently. No choking the handle. Their hands look like they were made to hold a golf club.
– They have the pin positions scoped out, and they put the ball on the green on the spot where they want it. Would that we were that good, too.
– All that said, man, were they slow on the putting green. Real slow. I wasn’t impressed by their greenside chipping, either. I hate to be negative, but those things were true, too.
– You know what I liked most? It was quiet. I go to baseball games and football games. Lots of noise. The only sounds we heard all day were golf balls being hit and putts dropping. Otherwise, quiet. I like that.
It was a good day. It’s enjoyable to watch people play golf who are that good, shot after shot.