My name is Chris Wang and I am a long time NGNation reader. I live here in Atlanta, GA, and when the editors of this website saw that I was going to Round One of the PGA Championship, they asked me to do a small post on what it was like on the course.
So instead of just writing a post, I thought I’d write something that someone like me would like to read. I also thought that a review of the golf shots wouldn’t be interesting since all of us will see the highlights. So I thought I’d make fun comments about the day in general. So here it is, the Alphabet Soup for Round One at the Atlanta Athletic Club (AAC).
A: Anticipation. Not only have fans from Atlanta been excited about Glory’s Last Shot taking place in our backyard, but golf fans around the world have been anticipating the major tournament return of Eldrick Woods. And what a buzzkill it was!
B: Breathtaking. If you like traditional style golf courses, Atlanta is the place for you. This was my first time at the AAC and it is beautiful. Rolling hills, difficult tree lines, doglegs that require a sold-out strategy… What a fun course to host a major.
C: Cell Phones. For the first time, the PGA allowed people in the gallery to carry their cell phones on the course. This was awesome until 30,000 other people showed up and locked up the cell service. I had pics of Luke Donald to tweet!
D: Driver. The driver is a key club this week, not because of how much the players have to use it, but the opposite. I love the fact that the two starting holes (1 Tee and 10 Tee) all require a fairway wood (or 4 iron if you’re a stud like Alvaro Quiros). Playing smart golf will be key this week.
E: Elevation Change. There aren’t that many second shots at the AAC Highland Course that are true yardage shots. The mental wear for both the players and the caddies this week will be at a high level.
F: Fanny pack. Random side note, my fanny pack came in super handy on the course. With my grounds badge, my now PGA-legal iPhone, my Nike Golf money clip/wallet, and my spectator’s guide, it was a nice rest for my shorts pockets. 🙂
G: Gallery. People were everywhere. With Tiger teeing off early this morning, his gallery actually wasn’t too bad. However, Rory McIllroy’s gallery was out-of-control big. They were also very vocal. It reminded me of the 2001 Tiger galleries minus the annoying, “Get in the hole!” man.
H: Hot. It was so hot out there on the course. Even with the Atlanta summer breeze, the sun still won. And water was $4 for a 20 oz bottle of Aquafina…
I: Inside-out. Rickie Fowler’s swing is really dramatic…
J: Just a Par 3. Number 15 is just a 260 yard Par 3, but you guys mind if I tee it up?
K: Killer. Number 15 was the round killer for Tiger. I admit that I fist-pumped when he nestled his second shot on 14 so close to the pin (and converted the birdie). But when he dropped his tee shot into the lake that guards the 260 Par 3 number 15 (what a beast), everyone knew that it was going to be downhill from there.
L: Language. Tiger’s body language began to match his facial expressions after his water ball. I tweeted right before he teed off that he looked worn out. And from 15 on (remember that he started on the back nine), everything about Tiger looked worn out.
M: Magical. Steve Stricker was on another planet this morning. I followed his group (which included Nike Athlete Paul Casey), and Stricks was on fire. He was making shots with the worst lies and worst angles look like they were sitting up in the first cut and straight away.
N: Nike Golf. You knew I’d do that, right? There’s just something about the Nike staff equipment and apparel that stands out above everyone else. That 20XI staff bag is on point.
O: Opossum. Stewart Cink has had some solid rounds this summer. Hopefully he will put a complete tournament together this week, and not play dead over the weekend.
P: Plumb. Simon Dyson’s purple pants were awesome. Again, Nike Golf’s athletes just look better than everyone else.
Q: Quality vs Quantity. Par 70 courses are smoke and mirrors. If you want your course to play hard and the scores to stay around level par, design it that way. Don’t take two strokes away from the field just because you want a 510 and 520 yard par 4.
R: RBC. With RBC being a main sponsor, there was a lot of Anthony Kim swag in the fan areas. From designing an AK golf bag, to displaying previous bags complete with AK autographs, the RBC fan zone was a corporate AK Love Fest. And I was at the party having a good time, having a good time.
S: Straight Bill. Flat brimmed hats were everywhere. Rickie Fowler is like WWE’s John Cena. He wears bright colors, kids love him because he’s the babyface, they want to wear his gear (I saw 10-15 kids 12-under wearing the Puma lid), and the gallery loves him. The PGA Tour can’t wait for pretty Rickie to get his first W.
T: Tremendous. The PGA did a great job with the grounds. Everything from concessions to restrooms to wifi spots to leaderboards, you could tell that a team of people put a lot of thought into where everything needed to be. East Lake needs to take notes.
U: Underrated. Matteo Manassero is ready to breakout onto the big stage. I wonder who will win a major first, him or Jhonny Vegas?
V: Vegas. There was a great pop for Jhonattan Vegas when he was announced to the first tee. With him and AK paired with Ernie Els, they had a variety of people following their group (age-demographic wise) that will hopefully get Vegas some new fans.
W: Win for the home team. A win for Stewart Cink at a major in Atlanta would be a huge story and wipe away the negative vibes of, “that green bald guy who beat Tom Watson.”
Y: You. There were people just like you here in Atlanta today. It was awesome to see so many different races, and to hear different languages being spoken throughout the gallery. I know Atlanta has been a melting pot of people ever since the world knocked on our door in 1996, but it was fantastic to see golf being represented globally today.
Z: Zen. I hope Tiger finds what he’s looking for because I’m ready to see him back on top of his game. Even if he only wins one more major, I’ll take it. C’mon T Dubs. You got this man!
Chris Wang is a guest writer of NGNation. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Nike Golf or NGNation. Follow Chris on Twitter: @chriswang5.