I went to the Amazingcre Portland Classic yesterday. It is the oldest continuous tournament on the LPGA circuit, having begun in 1972. These are my impressions.
First of all, these ladies are good. Really good. Remember the last time you went to the range and hit one really good shot, the best you can do?
I watched them warm up, and the shot they hit is better than your best shot and they hit it every time. That good.
It looks on TV like they all swing the same way, but from up close, and we got really close on the tees, they are all different. Some swing smoothly throughout. Some give it a little oomph just before impact, some just wind up and whack it. But you know? The oomphers and whackers are gals you haven’t heard of and likely never will–a word to the wise.
Nelly Korda. I watched her warm up. The rhythm, calmness, and grace of her swing was breathtaking. It is something that doesn’t show up on TV. You have to see it in person to understand it.
On a 546-yard hole, she waited for the green to clear before she hit her second. A woman next to me in the gallery had a laser range finder and measured Korda’s shot. Asked her, “What did you get?” and she said, “267”. Sure enough, Korda hit the ball just a few yards short of the green. She chipped on from about 60 feet to three feet and sank the putt for an easy birdie.
Overall she played very well from tee to green. Her approach shots left her with one makeable birdie putt after another, but they wouldn’t go in. One frustrated gallery member commented, “She should be 12 under by now!”
The problem is that the greens on this course look pretty flat, but they aren’t. I was watching lip-outs all day.
Coming down the 18th fairway, following the Georgia Hall group, there was a head cover lying the rough. I picked it up and found that came off one of her clubs. I gave it to her caddy, and while she was hitting, he gave me a ball from her bag!
In the morning, it was very quiet. Not many people had shown up yet. Often my buddy and I were the entire gallery.
We followed Anne van Dam for a while, because she hits it a ton. Then we followed Leona McGuire for a few holes, but she wasn’t having her best day and ended up missing the cut.
We also followed Christina Kim for a few holes. She has slimmed down, and isn’t really that big to begin with. She wasn’t doing her silly thing, but had a doing business face on the whole time and played well.
It used to be that we would see fairway, fairway, fairway off the tee, but these gals are hitting it so hard and so far now, that the misses are starting to show up. Still, lots of fairways get hit.
Slow play has been mentioned as a problem on the LPGA Tour, but I didn’t see any of that. Everyone was ready to play when it was their turn. One the green, they tended to take one look, stand up, and hit their putt. Of course, you can do some of your green-reading ahead of the time.
I only saw one player who was using the Aimpoint method, along with her caddy. She missed a ~20-footer about a foot to the left. Aimpoint is a gimmick, in my book.
One thing is clear above all. Like I said, everyone out there is really good. But a shot here and a shot there, just that much, is what separates the stars from the weekly grinders from the ones who just aren’t good enough.
Go see an LPGA tournament if there is one near where you live. Unlike the men’s game, the ladies’ game is similar enough to yours that you can understand it, and be inspired by it.