My week started in Riverside County, California at the Stater Brothers Hero’s Challenge hosted by Dave Stockton, who was my Ryder Cup Captain in 1991. There were six Medal Of Honor Recipients on hand for the wonderful tribute to our great soldiers that have served our country both now and in previous wars. The Golden Knights were on hand to grace the ceremony which honored John F. Baker, Jr. John was a Private First Class in the U.S. Army born in 1945 and just passed away this year. He had numerous friends especially Stater Bro’s Chairman Jack Brown, who will be attending Mr. Bakers full military burial at Arlington Cemetery this spring. Everyone loved Bakers enthusiasm, love, and dedication to the United States. David Rodrigues, the New York Policeman that captured the imagination with his tenor voice during 9-11, sang God Bless America and brought the crowd to its feet with honor and dignity for all the heroes that have passed away while serving our country. Dave and Cathy Stockton along with his family ran a pro-am that rivals any I’ve participated in. Dave is Mr. Organization! Thank you, Dave, for being so kind to involve me with your great event.
After Dave’s Pro-Am the tour was off to Orange County for the Toshiba Classic at Newport Beach Country Club, which was a great test of golf with high gusty winds and rain for most of the tournament. For me I started off the tournament really out of sorts, never hitting a shot like I had envisioned it. I think three weeks off was taxing on my game. I was practicing to get better by practicing my technique partly indoors and partly in Florida at Grey Oaks; however, I didn’t anticipate playing so poorly getting started out. My swing plane was too high which is sometimes a byproduct of working my right elbow into the proper angle at the top of my swing. This time I over did it and consequently it took me a day or so to get it down and more connected to my body. Chris my caddie mentioned that it looked like I wasn’t turning on the backswing and just throwing my hands at the ball, which was just right. Sometimes it’s difficult to feel it yourself, so I had to work my turn out. One great thing about golf is that the ball flight tells you everything you need to know about your swing. My divots were good, but my ball was starting too far to the left. Usually this means that your upper body is outpacing your lower body, so the fix is to move from the ground up first. As Doc Suttie says, you have to bring the club down before you start turning. So sequencing your swing becomes the key element to focus on. I was very happy that my ball flight straightened right out as I lowered my swing. Plus it was easier to time the sequencing on the downswing. It all started to fall into place so on Saturday I didn’t hit one pull shot which on Friday I pulled two medium iron shots on par 3’s that led to double bogeys. One bright spot with my game was my putting which was truly amazing. I led all putting stats on greens that are historically very difficult to play. Seaside bent grass can become very bumpy especially around the hole which can break down your confidence. Fortunately, I stayed very confident and sank some very nice putts to finish 9th in overall birdies for the week. Sunday was very cool with gusting winds that were very challenging, so a score of 70, or one under, isn’t too bad. The leaders just shot two under and the best round was four under, therefore, with a few more rounds under my belt I’m looking forward to a really great tournament in Biloxi, Mississippi this week. My old caddie Dave Woosley is looping for me and we have had a lot of success together over the years which might bring us both together in a special way just like back in 1991 where I followed Dave’s lead to shoot the 59. So keep the faith and make a great week for yourselves. Until later may God bless you fully, Chip