Things I learned
while playing golf with

Major Champions

Firsts are always sweet in golf: first birdie, first sub-80 round, first hole-in-one (if you’re lucky!), first pro-am. Since being in Punta Mita for several years, I’ve played a few pro-ams , have 2 hole in ones – however getting a chance to play with a Major Champion is a real treat be it my No 1 Favorite of All times Lorena Ochoa or a good mate the Walrus. At the end of the day it’s not every day you get to play with a major champion.

Having played with both Lorena and the Walrus in Punta Mita over the years I can sum up in 6 key take aways what I could soak up in knowledge from a legend. Here are the 6 things I learned.

Take trouble out of play

On a the water-lined par-5 13 on Pacifico , Lorena decided to lay up to 100 yards and hit a wedge from there. I found this to be a curious decision considering she had the length to reach the green, or at the very least leave herself with a short pitch into the green. Her explanation was simple.

“I didn’t want to go in the water,” Lorena . “I probably could get it there, but when I lay it up, I know I’m not going to make a big number.”

Sometimes laying up is the right call.

Aim for the middle of the green

When pins are tucked, pros rarely go flag-hunting, and Lorena is no exception. She calculated each shot into the green to leave herself the best possible look at birdie while never going anywhere near trouble. Lorena played a boring round of golf — and I say that in the most complimentary way. Stress-free golf is good golf. 

Get back in play

Playing with Stads he got himself into only one spot of trouble all day with a hooked drive into the rough, but just as quick as he got into a pinch, he got out of it. While most recreational players will try hero shots from trouble, that isn’t always the case for pros. Stads simply knocked his ball back into the fairway, hit wedge on the green and made sure the worst score he could card was bogey. Golf is a game of managing misses, and the pros do that at a high level.

Don’t be afraid to carry hybrids

Long irons are in many players bags, but few can actually hit them. In the pro ranks though, optics are of no concern — they carry the clubs that will allow them to score the best. Lorena was a prime example of this; the longest iron in her bag is a 5-iron. If a major winner only goes up to 5-iron, should you really be trying to hit a 3-iron? Probably not. Don’t be afraid to sub in some hybrids.

These girls are good

The PGA Tour had a slogan when I was growing up: “These guys are good.” Having played with Lorena and Stads I’m of the opinion the LPGA should adopt a similar one. I got to witness world-class talent up close  on a few occasions and it always servs as a great reminder of how wide the chasm is between pros and mere mortals. These Pros are very good and I have been extremely fortunate to have played with them and met a few more along the way – Phil and Johnny Miller, Corey Pavin.