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Golf needs more emotion, less calculation

By Ron Green Sr.
Ron Green Sr.
Ron Green Sr. is a retired Observer columnist.

I could be wrong, but I can’t imagine Bubba Watson – good ol’ Bubba from Bagdad, Fla. – sitting around talking about a statistic like driving efficiency, which is arrived at by combining a player’s carry efficiency (his carry distance divided by his clubhead speed) and hold on, we’re almost done total distance efficiency (total distance divided by clubhead speed.)

Or pretty much any other statistic.

As a rule, Bubbas probably don’t talk a whole lot about shots gained putting (don’t ask) and stuff like that. This Bubba is self taught and has his own unique style of getting golf done. A lot of people do talk about it.

Pro golf – all golf, really – is drowning in numbers, mechanics, theories, angles, ad infinitum.

Everybody’s looking for an edge. Rightly so. Enormous preparation goes into the games of the Tour players. Even more rightly so.

You read about the extreme measures to which all this has gone, though, and if you’re like me, you think, “Just go play golf. And take your coefficient of restitution with you.”

Golf, essential golf, has blood in its veins, sweat on its brow and feelings on its sleeve. It’s worth cussing when you miss, jumping for the sky when you win, crying in public when the trophy is won, crying in your room when you’ve lost.

It’s about the dozens of guys among the 156 in the Wells Fargo who rarely make much of a ripple on the tour. They are the equivalent of opening acts for Springsteen. They don’t sell enough tickets to cover the cost of their locker room buffet. But they are on the tour. They have emotions, too, just not like the ones Tiger and Phil and them have. That’s pro golf, not what’s in some guy’s bag.

Watch the 12:55 group teeing off in the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship on Thursday. Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson and Angel Cabrera.

You’ll see some golf in the hands of players at the highest level, golf with passion and imagination and skill that needs only one statistic to define it – the score.

McIlroy has a boyish freshness and a golf game that just about everyone else in the tournament would trade for. Watson hits it a mile with his pink driver and is constantly creating shots made to order. Cabrera walks like he’s late for a bus and plays the same. He doesn’t have to work at his game; he just plays it.

Or, if you’re an early riser, check out the 7:40 a.m. group.

Barring rain, that will be a choice time to be out there on the fairways rambling between big trees and around ponds and a creek. A good place to be, even if there were no golf there but doubly good because defending champion Rickie Fowler will be there with his rainbow clothes and his Elvis air along with five-time Tour winner Nick Watney and Phil Mickelson, one of those relentlessly seeking new ways and means but huge with the fans because his golf is unfailingly entertaining, a soap opera in spikes.

Out there, it’s all pretty sky, green hills, graceful shots, a game that should be played to soft music, not to the sound of numbers being crunched. Listen this week. You’ll hear it.

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