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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ready or Not...Here I Come

On January 29, 2013, I began a new journey.  This journey changed my life in so many ways.  It is far from complete but today, October 7, 2013, my journey begins a new chapter.

252 days ago, this journey began with the sound of my wife’s voice in the background.  I opened my dazed and sleepy eyes to find myself in the recovery room at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado.  Her kind voice and smiling face that greeted me were a welcomed sight after almost six hours of major hip surgery.   World-renowned surgeon, Dr. Marc Phillipon, repaired the train wreck that was once known as my left hip.  He fixed FIVE problems in and around my hip socket, which in return gave me hope that one-day pain free golf was possible.

So 252 days ago, I began preparing for today.  For 252 straight days, my phone buzzed and beeped with a daily reminder and countdown targeting today’s date, October 7, 2013.  I couldn’t help but smile this morning when I received my daily reminder.  It simply said…0.  Today, I make my return to the PGA Tour.  Today, I get to walk inside the ropes again.  Today, I am back!

So what took me so long?  Well, my original plan was to return to golf by way of the Tour a month or so ago.  Through my medical exemption with the PGA Tour, I was allowed “rehab starts” on the Tour.   Everything was on schedule until I pushed myself too far and strained my hip flexor working out.  My recovery status went from around 90% at the time to a devastating 50-55%.  Rather then pout about it, I rallied the troops and began working even harder to get healthy. Would it have been nice to “test” out my hip before my return to the Tour? Sure…but things didn’t work out that way.  So here I am, tournament rusty but blessed to have the opportunity to compete in my first tournament since January.  And how do I feel?  In all honesty, I am about 85%.  I am still having a couple of issues but nothing major.  Over the last week or so, some have questioned my decision to return at 85%.  I quickly reminded them that 85% is 85% better than WHAT I WAS!!

“New” will definitely be the theme this week as I compete in the just outside of San Jose, California.  My “new” hip will join my “new” caddy as I compete in the first tournament of the 2014 season on the PGA Tour.  Longtime friend and Georgia native, David Robinson, will walk alongside me this year.  Believe me when I say this…David will be a game changer for my career.  He is, without a doubt, one of the best putters that I have ever seen (easily in my top five of all-time).  He was an All-American in college and played professionally for many years.  He is a great guy, a tremendous competitor, and an even better friend.  I am very blessed to have him alongside me and on my team this year.

To be honest, I am amazed at the timing of how everything worked out in regards to the hiring of David and my previous caddy Barry.  When I decided to have surgery back in January, I promised Barry that I would help him find work while I was gone.  Well, I didn’t have to look very far.  My best friend on Tour, Boo Weekley, had been struggling a bit with his caddy situation, which in return was affecting his golf game.  Barry seemed like a perfect fit and, to give Boo credit, he didn’t think twice about his decision to hire him.  The two began working together at the Honda Classic in February and as the weeks progressed, Boo’s game began to improve.  In fact, after only two weeks of working together, they rallied on Sunday to almost win the Transitions Championship in Tampa.  I was happy for their success and I immediately called Boo and gave him my blessing to keep Barry on his team.  This was the right thing to do and even though Boo was reluctant, I knew he would eventually agree to my offer.  Now don’t get me wrong…Boo wanted to keep Barry but he didn’t feel “right about it” because in his mind, he was only borrowing Barry until I returned from surgery.  It wasn’t until I met with Boo face-to-face three weeks later at the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head that he agreed to my offer.  Barry was a great caddy for me but I knew that he would be a difference maker for Boo.  To be quite honest, I think Boo knew that as well.  He thanked me over and over again and from that day forward, Boo was a completely different player.  He immediately played well and a few weeks later, he teamed up with Barry to win the Crowne Plaza Invitational at the Colonial in Texas.  I couldn’t have been more proud for both of them and the rest is history.

I will also be introducing some new equipment this week, as well.  A “new” TaylorMade SLDR driver will be in the bag as well as some “new” iron shafts from Aldila.  I may also pull the trigger on a “new” club for the first time in over twelve years.  For several months now, I have been practicing with a short putter.  Since 2001, the belly putter (style where the putter touches a player’s body) has been a fixture in my bag thanks in large part to a bad back.  With my back feeling better, I have worked hard to put the short putter back in play.  We will see if it makes the lineup come Thursday.

As excited as I am to return to my life as a professional golfer on the PGA Tour, I am a thousand times more heartbroken that I had to leave my family behind.  For the first time in my life, I have been an at home, full time daddy and husband.  And for those of you that experience this title day in and day out, year after year…God Bless ya!  What an amazing experience.  Eight months of daddy and husband duties were a dream come true.  I am blessed beyond words and I am grateful that I was able to spend this time with my family.
But now it is time to go back to work and provide for my family.  My journey back to the PGA Tour has been long and extremely humbling.  I am ready to compete.  I am ready to win.  We will see what happens.  Whether I hoist a trophy on Sunday or miss the cut, a pain free tournament will be a WIN in my book!

Thank you all for the continued support.  It means more than you will ever know!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

I Can See the Light at the End of the Tunnel...

It is amazing the thoughts that run through an individual's mind when they make a decision that could ultimately change the landscape of their career and the livelihood of their family.  As I laid in a Vail, Colorado, hospital bed back in January my mind was racing...Will this surgery work?  Should I just continue to play hurt and accept the semi-success that I have had since 2009?  Will I ever play golf pain free?  Will I ever return to the PGA Tour  and be competitive?  These thoughts and question marks have definitely been a mainstay in the back of my mind since the day I decided to have surgery on my left hip.  But rather than waste time and energy worrying about the unknown, I decided to use these concerns as motivation and the driving force behind my daily rehabilitation.  It hasn't been easy and I have worked extremely hard to get to where I am today.  I still have a long way to go but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  My wife has been my rock throughout this entire process and she deserves a ton of credit.  She held our family together when I was unable to walk and do my daily father and husband duties and her support never waivered.  I owe her a tremendous amount of gratitude and I am extremely fortunate to have her by my side.

As I sit here writing this entry, I am confident that I have the answers to those earlier questions of doubt and concern...YES, this surgery will work...NO, I shouldn't have continued to play hurt and accept the everyday limitations of my body...YES, I will play golf pain free...and YES, I will return to the PGA Tour and be EXTREMELY competitive.  Like I said earlier, I have a long way to go (I'm probably about 75%-80%) but I already feel a major difference in my left hip.  The newfound freedom and extended range of motion has been a Godsend and I cannot wait to reach 100%.

My return to the PGA Tour is simple.  If my progression continues as scheduled, I will give my hip a test run with a couple of rehabilitation starts on the in August.  If everything feels "normal" then I will return to the PGA Tour in October at the  The only hiccup I have seen so far in my recovery has been the continued tightness in my left hip flexor.  I can't seem to shake this feeling of discomfort even though I constantly stretch it...hopefully it will work its way out soon.

With that being said, I am extremely excited to return to work in October.  However, I would be lying if I didn't admit that I am also dreading my return to work in October.  As everyone knows, my time at home is precious and, for the first time in my life, I have been able to experience what a "normal" husband and father encounters on a daily basis.  I have gained so much from this experience and I am very fortunate to have spent this time at home.  I cannot wait to get back to work but I dread not being at home...such is life.

On a brighter note, everything at The Blake Adams Golf Academy is going well.  We are growing with each month that passes and our students are getting better.  I have been on site almost every week to help my Director of Instructor, John Tillery, with clinics and the day-to-day operations.  I am extremely proud of him and his continued passion to make the Academy a success.  I am very fortunate to have him on board!

In addition to the normal weekly programs at the BAGA, John and I will once again host a Junior and Adult clinic in July.  The Junior clinic (ages 8-13) is this coming Saturday, July 13th, from 9am to noon ($95) and the Adult clinic is Saturday, July 20th, from 8am to noon ($225).  Spots are limited so please make sure you sign up in time.  The BAGA is also proud to announce our first weekly series of clinics for Adults.  More information and a schedule will be available in the next few days.  Please call the BAGA at 706-818-5246 or email us at for more information or to register.

Also, if you have interest in receiving updates on the programs, clinics, specials and other news about The Blake Adams Golf Academy...please send us an email at and I will add you to our current list.  I want our followers to stay informed about the Academy and become involved whenever possible.  I have big plans for the BAGA and I don't want anyone to miss out!

Thanks, as always, for the continued support of my career.  I will return to the PGA Tour and I vow to be better than ever!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Good Report and A New Business Adventure...

Over the last few months, I have learned one thing…NEVER take things for granted.  It doesn’t matter how big or small, NEVER, NEVER, take them for granted!  Bound to a pair of crutches for eight weeks and forbidden to put more than 20 pounds of pressure on my new and improved left hip/left leg, I will admit…I was humbled.  Gone was my ability to walk, run and jump…gone was the stability and strength in my left leg that allowed me to carry my children to bed…and gone was my freedom to use two hands to carry an object from one place to another.  God has truly blessed my life but it sometimes takes a situation where you temporarily lose the ability to perform the most simple tasks to realize how fortunate you are.  Even though my situation only lasted eight weeks, it made me to realize how many things I took for granted.  For me personally, two things stood out the most.  Not being able to carry your children down the hall after they had  fallen asleep was a tough pill to swallow as well as the dilemma I faced every morning after making breakfast.  Do I trust the two year old standing at your feet to carry a glass bowl or plate over to the kitchen table OR do I just stand by the refrigerator and eat standing up.  From experience…chose option number two!
Beth and I returned to Vail, Colorado, after church on Easter Sunday for my post-op checkup.  Dr. Phillipon and his staff checked and re-checked my left hip through x-rays and manipulation.  Thankfully, I passed with flying colors and I was cleared to move into Phase 2 of my therapy and rehab.  This advancement involved a series of more difficult and weight barring exercises as well as a gradual introduction to the game of Golf.  Dr. Phillipon was extremely pleased with the movement in my hip but warned me to still be cautious.  I was allowed to chip and putt for the first two weeks following my visit to Vail and I have recently added pitch shots and 50-60 yard shots.  My daily trips to therapy have certainly made a huge difference in my recovery.  Eight pounds have withered away and my strength is well ahead of schedule.  I still have a slight limp when I walk but my therapists have assured me that this is normal.  Post-op  tightness in hip flexors are routine and over time I will return to my normal stride.  I am anxious to reach the finish line but I know I have to be patient.  Time is on my side and my goal still remains the same…October will be my first tournament back on the PGA Tour.
So what have I been doing with my time since surgery?  Well, I have been extremely busy.  Obviously therapy and being a full-time father and husband has been my first priority.  Taking Jake to school everyday and tucking them both in bed at night has been a blessing.  I was able to coach Jake’s basketball team and I am now his baseball coach.  Working on my tractor and farm during the day and actually sitting down to eat supper with my wife has been a welcomed change.  I am truly blessed.
In addition to all this, I have taken on a new adventure.  For the last two years I have worked tirelessly on a vision of mine that began over 10 years ago.  Tired of Golf instruction costing a fortune and the necessary resources for the weekend warrior being non-existent, I worked on creating a model to solve both issues.  After months and months of work, I am proud to announce that my vision is finally becoming a reality.  On Monday, April 29th, I am hosting an Open House event at The Blake Adams Golf Academy at Lane Creek Golf Club just outside of Athens, Georgia.  I have created a model that is both unique and rare.  By combining my resources from the PGA Tour, my hands-on involvement  AND my personal instructor on Tour, I have raised the bar on ELITE Golf instruction.  I will be an integral part of the Academy’s day-to-day operations and I will be on site whenever my tournament schedule allows, to aid and assist in clinics, schools, and daily lessons.  As I mentioned, my personal instructor, John Tillery, will be Director of Instruction.  He will be on-site each and every week unless he is at a PGA Tour event assisting his players.  In addition, I will have PGA Tour and players assist with instruction throughout the year and provide numerous opportunities for Meet and Greets with these players.
My goal is simple.  I want to provide a comprehensive player development facility that provides elite resources necessary for golfers to perform at their highest level.  Whether you want to make your Middle School or High School Golf Team, play Golf Collegiately or Professionally, or just lower your Handicap so you can compete with your friends, I have a program for you.  My Academy will have all the technology needed to improve your Golf game.  State of the art video equipment will be available as well as personalized fitness plans.  Our students will be able to not only change their Golf game but also their lifestyle.
I will have more information coming as things progress.  Please feel free to come by Lane Creek Golf Club this Monday at 4:30 for a FREE clinic with four Professional Golfers.  I will be joined by three players who are in town preparing for the Stadion Classic at UGA.  Good friends, Josh Broadaway, Will MacKenzie, and Kevin Kisner will be on site to give a mic’ed up lesson.  Come join us for this great event.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Two Weeks Down...

Tuesday, February 12th, will mark two weeks since I underwent major surgery to repair a laundry list of ailments in my left hip.  Since my procedure, I have been extremely diligent with my rehab.  Dr. Philippon and his staff have given me a program that has been tested and proven successful by some of the best athletes in the world.   And I believe in it...100%.  I am committed to the process and I haven't wavered one second from their plan.  Whether I am attending my two or three daily rehab appointments at the Clinic or laying in my leg machine for 6-8 hours a day...I am committed.  I know that my road to recovery is long but I truly believe that my determination and discipline will pay off.  In fact, to some degree, it already has!

According to Dr. Philippon and his staff, I am doing extremely well.  My PTs have been impressed with how fluid my daily range of motion tests have been and I am thankful that these movements have been PAIN-FREE!  Each day has been a positive progression and I am excited to see the end result.

The snow has fallen almost every day since I arrived in Vail, Colorado.  Beth and the kids have had a blast on the mountain while the gimp has journeyed to and from rehab.  Jake and Libby both went through ski school and after spending just two days on the mountain, Jake was convinced he was ready for the Olympics!  The kids have also enjoyed tubing, a sleigh ride, snowmobiling, and a million other things.  Their time here has definitely helped with my rehab.  Snow and crutches certainly don't mix but having my family with me during this journey has truly been a blessing.

After watching Brandt Snedeker dominate the PGA Tour over the last three weeks with TWO runner-up finishes and a WIN, I made an obvious request to Dr. Philippon.  Since he successfully repaired Brandt's left and right labrum, I asked him to make sure he did EXACTLY the same thing to MY hip that he did to Brandt's!

Thank you as always for the support and the large number of emails and texts.  They really mean a lot!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Long Road to Recovery...

According to Dr. surgery was a success!  The procedure lasted close to five hours and by all reports, everything went well.

Dr. Philippon told my wife, Beth,that he was "amazed that I was able to play golf " due to the incredible amount of damage in my left hip.  He successfully removed three bones spurs, a cyst, shaved and reshaped my femur, and repaired a COMPLETELY torn labrum that according to Dr. Philippon..."looked like it had been mangled by a dog"!

He also performed Microfracture surgery due to the limited amount of cartilage in my left hip.  This procedure was done by creating tiny fractures in my femur head.  "Blood and bone marrow (which contains stem cells) seep out of the fractures, creating a blood clot that releases cartilage-building cells. The microfractures are treated as an injury by the body, which is why the surgery results in new, replacement cartilage."

So thanks to Dr. Philippon, I will soon be a new man!  The before and after pictures are amazing and I was told by one Doctor that I received "a million dollar hip" due to all of the repairs...I couldn't agree more!  My road to recovery began immediately and I will be honest with wasn't very much fun!  Two hours after leaving the hospital I climbed up on a bike and began peddling.  As you can imagine, this didn't tickle!  However, I toughed it out pain wise and made it through day one (not without throwing up almost all over my therapist!).  Day one of many, many more days of rehab.  For now, I am scheduled to spend the next three weeks in Vail, Colorado, under the watchful eye of The Steadman Clinic with rehab occurring two or three times a day.  I will be on crutches for the next 8 weeks and I am required to spend 8 hours a day in a special machine for my leg and hip.

My road to recovery will be extremely long but I am excited about the prospect of one day playing golf pain free.  I have battled the best players in the world on one hip for over four years and I cannot wait to see how I compete against them once I am 100% healthy.  I fully expect that my journey will have some highs and lows but I am very fortunate to have the best nurse in the world, my wife, at my side.  She has been a tremendous help so far and I cannot imagine going through this ordeal without her.  I am truly blessed.  My mom and step-father also made the trip to Colorado to help me during this journey and they have been a comfort and aid to both of us.

So in all reality, it looks like my 2013 season is over.  My goal is to be ready to compete against the world's best in October of this year.  This date marks the start of the 2014 season under the new PGA Tour schedule changes.  Since I will miss the entire 2013 season, I will apply for a Major Medical Exemption.  This will allow me to begin playing in October with the same status that I had going into the 2013 season.

I am excited about the journey ahead.  I am excited about the prospects of being pain free.  I am excited about battling the best players in the world with TWO hips rather than one.  I am excited about what God has in store for me.  The best has yet to come.

Monday, January 28, 2013

It's Official...

It's official...I will undergo hip surgery tomorrow morning.  My procedure will take place at The Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado, by world-renowned Orthopedic Hip Surgeon, Dr. Marc Philippon.

After a MRI, X-rays, strength tests, and a Bio-Motion exam, it was determined by Dr. Philippon and his staff that I should undergo Hip Arthroscopy Surgery rather than a Total Hip Replacement.  This was certainly a relief because at my age, the idea of having a Total Hip Replaced is mind-blowing!  Dr. Philippon will remove the cyst, the bone spurs, shave and reshape my femur, and repair a torn labrum.  Prior to my appointment, I was aware of the cyst and bone spurs.  However, the torn labrum was definitely news to me and to be honest, I have no idea when it tore!  Regardless, I am happy and comfortable with the diagnosis and I am looking forward to getting healthy.

If you have time, Google Dr. Philippon.  You will find article after article of athletes who have flown to Colorado to receive his treatment.  Olympic athletes, Major League Baseball players, PGA Tour players, and hundreds of other athletes have trusted his hands and mind to fix their ailing bodies.  He is considered by many to be the best Hip Surgeon in the United States and one of the top in the World. So as you see...I am in good hands.

I am excited about my road to recovery.  God has a plan for me and I trust him.  I will keep everyone updated.  I am blessed to have the support of so many people.  Thank you...I will be back...I cannot wait!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

It's Time...

My week began as normal.  I wrote my weekly blog entry on Tuesday evening and recapped the trials and tribulations from the week prior.  The Humana Challenge was indeed...a challenge.  I talked about the difficulty in shaking off my winter rust and the confidence I had in the weeks and months ahead.  I spoke about how my family traveled from God's Country to spend the week with me in the desert.  The weather was perfect and it was certainly a nice change from their "everyday January."  The blog was ready to post but at the last minute...I chose to wait.

Why did I wait???  Well, to be honest...I waited because I had a hunch.  A hunch that unfortunately became reality.

After a frustrating round of golf on Thursday, I decided that it was in my best interest to withdraw from the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California.  Once again you ask...Why?  Well, I withdrew because I decided that it was finally TIME.

On Monday morning at 8am, I have an appointment in Vail, Colorado, with the most renown and respected hip doctor in the United States.  Dr. Marc Philippon and his staff at The Steadman Clinic will run a series of Bio-Motion tests as well as a MRI to determine the future of my left hip.  If surgery (which seems very obvious to me) is necessary, I will go under the knife on Tuesday morning.

So what does this mean in regards to the 2013 Season?  I have no idea...I will find out on Monday.

There is good news however.  Dr. Philippon and his staff are the best of the best.  I will be in good hands and I will listen, trust and value their opinion.  They have repaired the hips of a countless number of professional athletes who have suffered from major ailments...some of which include Alex Rodriguez, Greg Norman, and Brandt Snedeker.  I spoke with Brandt on Friday morning and his recommendation and insight played a pivotal part in my decision to visit Dr. Philippon and his staff.

I will keep everyone updated.  Thank you as always for your continued support.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

So Here We Are...

So here we are.  The beginning of a new season, my 4th season, on the PGA Tour.  A season where once again…my expectations are high, my goals are lofty, and my acceptance for mediocrity is as usual…unacceptable.  I expect to succeed.  I will succeed.  However, my unwavering quest to succeed has never been, nor will it ever be, about fame or fortune.  I am a simple man.  A man who loves his family and the simple things in life.  I don’t ask or want the attention that so many athletes crave or desire.  I want only to conduct myself in a Godly manner, provide and care for my family, and help those who need it the most.  It’s simple.  Simple things for a simple man.  Nothing fancy.
My off-season flew by in a blink of an eye.  I was able to spend quality time with my family and, for the first time in a while, I was a hands-on Dad, Husband, and a few other unexpected but special titles.  One of my titles quickly stuck after I gladly traded in my option and freedom to go hunting every morning for the right and privilege to become Jake’s personal “Chauffeur” to school.  The best part of being a Chauffeur?  Our daily conversations.  The randomness and curiosity that fills the mind of a five year old is amazing.  It is simply this…pure innocence combined with a never-ending desire to learn.   I am so thankful that I was a part of this curious time in his life…and I could care less that I was just his “Chauffeur!”  I wouldn’t have traded it for the world.  The next title I earned this off-season was very sweet and one that I HOPE sticks forever.  My little girl Libby has quickly transformed herself into Cinderella.  Her Cinderella dress is her daily attire and it doesn’t matter where she is.  She wears it to restaurants, to Wal-Mart, to the Dentist, and anywhere else she goes.  She is no longer Libby…she is Cinderella.  And thankfully…her Daddy has become (by her choice) her “Prince Charming.”  Now I truly expect for this title to remain MY title for….OHHHHHH…lets just say…FOREVER.  I cringe at the thought of her growing up and having some little Punk pursue her…Blahhhhhhh (I just threw up)…NO CHANCE this happens.  So yes… I will GLADLY claim the title of “Prince Charming” and I refuse to EVER relinquish this title.  Good luck little Punks!
The beginning of my 2013 season took an unexpected and tragic delay.  In my three previous years on Tour, my routine has always been the same.  I fly to Palm Springs/La Quinta, California, (site of our tournament…the Humana Challenge) and practice for a week before I head over to Hawaii for the Sony Open.  My flights were booked and I was set to leave the great state of Georgia on January 2nd.  Unfortunately though, my plans were changed when we lost a special member of our family on December 31st.  My wife’s uncle lost his life in a tragic and freak accident while working on his farm in Swainsboro, Georgia.  He was an incredible Husband, Father, Pa, Uncle, Brother, and Friend to those who knew him.  He was an extremely hands-on Pa to his eight Grandkids and was a strong voice of wisdom for his Wife, three Children, and Sister (Beth’s Mom).  Our family was very close to Uncle Jim and his loss was a tough one to understand and swallow.  He will truly be missed.
So for obvious reasons, I canceled my flight to practice in Palm Springs the week prior to the Sony Open.  After the events that took place on December 31st, I decided to take to heart the unexpected and uninvited life lesson that God laid in my lap.  You see…I lost my father unexpectedly on April 11, 2004, and the passing of Uncle Jim was just another reminder that we are never promised tomorrow.  My job is great…I love it…it is the best.  However, at the end of the day…it is just a job.  With my job, I miss first words, first steps, and most first, second, and third of everything.  I decided that THIS time, I wasn’t going to miss a first time.  I gladly withdrew from the Sony Open to watch Jake play in his FIRST basketball game.  He was so proud to have me there and I was proud to be there!  Who needs Hawaii anyway?  It’s only Golf, right?  Absolutely…but to Jake…my attendance was more….it was everything!
So as I mentioned before…here we are.  The beginning of a new season, my 4th season, on the PGA Tour…at the Humana Challenge in La Quinta/Palm Springs, California.  I am proud to be here and I hope you will join me during my weekly adventures on Tour.  As usual though, I need your help…PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE…send me any questions or comments that you may have.  I enjoy writing my blog as I have stated many times…not for me, but for my followers and my children.  I want these entries to be a journal of sorts for my children to read later in life.  But I need your help.  Birdies and Bogeys bore me beyond belief and I refuse to write a bunch of junk about myself.  So help me…help me create a journal that will be of interest to read.  I will, of course, bring you inside my life…my life inside the ropes.  I hope you enjoy my adventures.  God Bless each of you and remember…we are never promised tomorrow!  Please, go and hug the neck of your loved ones!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Life's Little Moments and A Monster of a Course...

After a successful week at the PGA Championship, I postponed my trip to Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Wyndham Championship for a couple of days.  Thanks to my job and the travel demands it requires, I miss most of the “little moments” that take place in my children’s lives.  Whether it’s their first steps, first words or the trips to the ball field or dance studio…I have and will continue to miss almost everything.  I know, I know…I play a game for a living and I will be the first to admit that I am very blessed and fortunate when it comes to my career.  However, no success or achievement will ever replace those “moments” that I have lost along the way.  It makes me sad to look back over the last five years and think about how much the road has taken from me.  With that being said, there was no way I was going to miss another “first”…especially when my last tournament was only a few hours away.  I left Kiawah Island immediately following my round on Sunday and drove home to see my little shadow, Jake, begin his journey into Kindergarten bright and early Monday morning.  He begged me during the week of the PGA Championship to “please come home so you can take me to my first day of school.”  Without even blinking, I assured him that I would be there.  I played chauffer to and from school on Monday and then Tuesday morning before I headed north to Greensboro.  I cannot tell you how excited he was to have his Daddy (and Momma and Libby) alongside him as he walked through the halls and into his classroom.  I will always remember his face, his excitement and his thankfulness that I was there.  And to me…that’s better than any amount of success I will ever achieve on the golf course.

The 2012 Wyndham Championship was in some way, more of an experiment than a tournament.  After putting a new putter in place on the Sunday of a Major (crazy!), I kept it in the bag to see what it could do for an entire week.  The unexpected change at the PGA Championship was the first new look in almost two years!  I decided to switch the normal size Winn grip on my TaylorMade Spider putter for a bigger/fatter one (Super Stroke), which I truly believe gave me better feel on the greens.  I didn’t have a 3-putt during the entire week and I definitely made more putts beyond 10 feet than I had with my old putter.  In terms of statistics, I finished the week near the top in the two most important Putting Stats complied by the PGA Tour (6th in Putts per Green in Regulation and 13th in Strokes Gained).  In my opinion, the experiment was a success and I am looking forward to what it can do in the coming weeks.

I left Greensboro after another made cut and headed north to begin the most important stretch of the PGA Tour season…the FedEx Cup Playoffs.  New York City is the site of this week’s tournament (The Barclays) as we begin the first leg of a four-tournament elimination style format.  The infamous PUBLIC golf course, Bethpage Black, plays host for the week and from all indications…it is going to be a Monster.  In fact, when Lucas Glover won the U.S. Open here in 2009, it was regarded as one of the toughest Opens in history.  Players were unable to reach the fairways on several holes due to the extreme length.  I played the course for the first time on Tuesday and it certainly lived up to its reputation.  My swing coach, John Tillery, made the trip up from Georgia on Monday and we worked extremely hard on all areas of my game.  I feel really good heading into tomorrow’s first round and I am excited about the upcoming challenge that is Bethpage Black.  If I can drive the ball well off the tee then I WILL find myself in contention come Sunday.  Ball striking is a premium and judging from the last few days of practice…I am ready. Besides, shouldn’t I get a nod from the Golf Gods or have some sort of an advantage when the course’s name is Beth? I certainly hope so!  

This week’s question comes from James in North Carolina.  He writes:  Blake, what is the key to your success in the Majors?

Thank you James for the email and question.  I truly believe that my success in the Majors is a result of three things.  Number 1:  My Game Plan.  I have a very conservative but aggressive game plan.  The conservative approach begins at the tee with my main focus being the fairway.  My goal is to find the widest part of the fairway…regardless of what club it takes to get there.  Fairways are a premium!  For example, at this year’s U.S. Open I hit a 3wd or Hybrid off the tee on the treacherous 630 yard par 5, 16th hole just to make sure I hit the fairway.  When I am able to find the fairway, I can then play more aggressive and attack the tough pin locations.  Hacking it from the rough makes for a very, very long day!  Number 2:  My Mind Set.  Every Player knows that when they tee it up at a Major, they are in for a battle.  Birdies are hard to make while Ol Mr. Bogey is usually lurking around the corner.  You have to be prepared mentally to accept a few hiccups along the way but strong enough to bounce back from them.  As many of you know, I have a very even keel and laid back personality.  This certainly helps in my Profession when things aren’t going according to plan.  Golf can be a rollercoaster and if you let your emotions get the best of you...Good Luck!  Number 3:  My Overall Game.  I have always been a Player that has thrived on the tougher courses and setups.  I normally drive the ball well and as I mentioned earlier, fairways are a premium.  My iron play, short game, and putting are certainly respectable and I am able to contend in the Majors because these aspects of my game usually keep me away from the Big Number. 

Thankfully, this week’s tournament at Bethpage Black will play like a Major!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

One Lousy Shot...

With the help of Ol’ Mother Nature, The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, South Carolina, stood its ground and provided the field in the 2012 PGA Championship an extremely difficult test.  Resting against the sandy beach and shore of the Atlantic Ocean, the Ocean Course used all of its resources to challenge the participants in the last Major of the year.  Other than a calm Thursday morning, the wind whipped over the landscape of Kiawah Island and played havoc with every player’s golf ball.  No one was immune and I was extremely happy to see the tough conditions. 

I arrived to Kiawah on Sunday afternoon and after waiting out a heavy rainstorm, I played and practiced till dark.  The course was in immaculate shape and it was evident from the very first hole that ball striking was going to be the key to the week.  Tight fairways, shaved areas around the greens, and deep waste bunkers awaited each and every player.  I teed off late on Thursday afternoon and the wind was blowing between 15 and 20 mph.  As I mentioned earlier, the morning wave played nearly their entire round in 0-5 mph wind and their scores reflected the mild conditions.  I hit the ball extremely well and finished the day at one under par (71)…well back of the morning wave leaders.  My putter didn’t show up once again and my two three putts in round one left me less than satisfied.  I woke up Friday morning expecting the same “mild conditions” that the other wave experienced but the trees and flags at the course indicated a very different animal.  Winds in excess of 25 mph greeted my wave of players as we made our way to the course.  My goal for the day was simple…no bogeys.  I knew this accomplishment would soar my name up the leaderboard and I set out determined to achieve my goal.  I battled the wind and tough conditions until the bitter end.  15 straight holes of bogey-free golf were more than ANY other player in the field.  An untimely 3-putt ended my streak and another bogey on the following hole derailed a really good round of golf.  The average score for Round 2 of the PGA Championship was almost 79 and believe it or not, there were MORE scores in the 90’s than the 60’s!!  My score of Even Par (72) certainly wasn’t bad and it climbed me up the leaderboard but as you can imagine, I walked away disappointed thanks again to my putter.   However, all was not lost.  I was in contention in only my 2nd Major and just a few shots back of the leader.  I have always had a knack for playing the tough golf courses well and this past week was no different.  Round 3 found me paired with former Masters Champion Trevor Immelman and in a tie for 7th place.  I hit the ball well but once again, my putter let me down.  After 10 holes, I was a disappointing 3 over par but it wasn’t because of my ball striking.   My putting was dismal and it showed in my score.   Heavy rain and lightning forced everyone off the course with instructions to return ready to play at 7:30am.  26 holes awaited me on Championship Sunday and I was determined to make up the ground I lost on Saturday.   I came out and once again, I hit the ball well but my putter let me down (didn’t I just say that!).  I missed only one green during the completion of my 3rd round but unfortunately my cold putter didn’t erase the bogeys from the previous day.  A round of 75 plummeted me to a tie for 25th place heading into the Final Round.  Extremely frustrated, I walked up to my locker and searched for answers.  Over the last five weeks I have worked tirelessly on my putting but for whatever reason, the ball has refused to go into the hole.  I reckon that my Odessey putter of nearly 2 years had officially ran out of gas!  I took a chance and grabbed the TaylorMade Spider (Prototype) putter that was built for me on Monday and headed to the putting green.  To change putters in the middle of a golf tournament is crazy but to change putters before the final round of a Major is INSANE.  I figured that since the putts obviously weren’t falling that it couldn’t get any worse.  It was worth the gamble.

The final round of the 2012 PGA Championship found me in a pairing with two Major Championship winners…Jim Furyk (winner of the U.S. Open) and Louis Oostevein (winner of the British Open).  I hit the ball well for the 4th consecutive round and THANKFULLY I made a couple of putts along the way.  It is almost embarrassing to write but after my 20 foot birdie putt fell on the 16th hole, I can honestly say that it was the FIRST PUTT that I made during the ENTIRE TOURNAMENT OVER 12 FEET!  Think about that…69 holes before I made a putt of a decent length!  I followed that birdie up with another one (a bomb!) on the long and difficult par 3, 17th hole to keep the momentum going.  A nice 5 foot par putt on the 18th hole completed my BOGEY-FREE round of 67 and vaulted me up to a tie for 7th place.

There was good news and bad news with my 2nd Major of the year.  The good news is that I hit the ball well for four days, battled hard and stood tall against the tough and windy conditions, didn’t make a bogey in the final round of a Major, and finished in tie for 7th place against a very strong field.  The bad news is that I fell ONE LOUSY SHOT short of qualifying for the 2013 MASTERS!!   Blahhhhhhhhhhhhhh…yes that was me throwing up!  One shot…seriously…one shot!  One putt was all it would have taken…one lousy putt and I would have qualified for MY World Series.  Oh well.  I battled hard and fell short.  I will get to Augusta when I get there.   Who knows…this week in Greensboro, North Carolina, may be MY week to win a tournament and qualify for Magnolia Lane…The Masters! 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Two Calls to the Bullpen and My 2nd Major...

Since my last entry, poor putting has continued to plague my golf game.  Two consecutive missed cuts ended a streak of Saturday and Sunday tee times that dated back to April!  The first mishap occurred in Mississippi at the True South Classic.  Scorching temperatures played havoc on both players and caddies…especially the ones in my wave.  After playing only a couple of holes on Thursday afternoon, thunderstorms with heavy rain and lightning forced us off the course.  32 holes were in store for me on Friday and unfortunately my caddy Barry was feeling the heat…literally!  Temperatures near 100 degrees provided little relief and after watching Barry’s health decline as the day progressed, I became very concerned.  After pleading with him for quite a while, I finally was forced to call a medic with five holes remaining.  He was shaking uncontrollably and his face was ghost white.  Bogeys and birdies were the least of my concerns and the cut line quickly became a distant thought.  The medical staff arrived immediately and began working on Barry.  I was forced to continue on to the next hole and luckily, my good friend and former UGA roommate Davis Thomason was walking outside the ropes.  I made the “call to the bullpen” for a relief Caddy and the two of us tried to make enough birdies to play the weekend.  Two birdies during the stretch just weren’t enough as I missed the cut for the first time since April (definitely not a bad run!).  However, like I said earlier, my concerns were definitely on Barry for most of the day and I finally made the decision (against his strong wishes) to shut him down.  It was a very scary situation and after completing my round, I rushed over to the medical tent to check on Barry’s condition.  He was still hooked to IVs but his complexion and overall well being looked better.  I cannot thank the medical staff enough for their thorough care…not only for Barry but also for the other 10-12 guys that “fell out” during Friday’s scorching marathon.  In times like that, Golf definitely becomes secondary.

After a disappointing week on the golf course in Mississippi, I flew to Toronto, Ontario for this year’s RBC Canadian Open at Hamilton Golf & Country Club.  I sent Barry home for the week so he could get his health turned around and in shape for the rest of the year.  I went to the “bullpen” yet again but this time I brought in my swing instructor, John Tillery.  We both viewed our week together as a great opportunity to fine tune things before the FedEx Playoffs as well as a chance to lock up a spot in this year’s PGA Championship.  With the end of the season right around the corner, it is imperative that I am sharp during the Playoffs and playing my best.  I have certainly been close to some pretty special things over the past few months but for one reason or another, things haven’t quite gone my way in the end.  JT and I set out to make sure that when August arrived, that I would be pumping on all cylinders.  Hard work was once again the theme in Canada…not only at the course but also at the home we had for the week.  My good friend, Don Schroeder, lives in Burlington, Ontario, (just 20 minutes from Hamilton Golf & Country Club) and to both of JT’s and my delight, he has a Golf Simulator in his basement.  JT and I spent countless hours every evening hitting balls until we felt satisfied about my swing.  The hard work showed up from tee to green but unfortunately my putter decided to play Houdini yet again.  My second missed cut in a row lead to a short week in Toronto but in hindsight, it was probably a blessing for two reasons!  First, the early exit from Canada allowed me to go home and actually enjoy an off-week.  In fact, Saturday night was only the 7th time that I have slept in my bed since the first week in April (almost 4 months!!).  I cannot tell you how nice it was to be at home with my family.  I practiced everyday on my green behind the house and for the first time in a long, long time, I was able to tuck my kids in their bed. Secondly, by missing the cut in Toronto I didn’t hurt myself as far as my standings were concerned.  I slipped a little in the FedEx and Money List but most importantly, I still qualified FOR MY 2nd MAJOR of the year!

And that brings us to this week...the 4th and final Major of the year.  The Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, South Carolina.  In what some are predicting as the toughest PGA Championship test in years, I am excited and ready for the challenge.  This is my first PGA Championship and I will certainly use my U.S. Open experience from earlier this year to help with my preparation.  I arrived to the island on Sunday morning and stayed until dark working on my game.  Monday morning brought a similar work ethic as I was the first player to tee off at 7:15am.  My game plan is simple...fix the putting issues that has ailed me since my putter was accidentally bent five weeks ago and prepare for another U.S. Open type tournament.  The winds are expected to howl thanks in large part to the ocean that sits only a few yards away from the fairways!  The course is in immaculate shape and it should be an extremely tough test of golf.  I fully expect to play well this week and who knows…if my putter behaves, I just might find myself with a late tee time and a chance to win on Sunday.  Redemption from the U.S. Open?  We will see.

This week’s question comes from Erin in Georgia.  She writes:  Blake, Each week you are paired up with different players. How does the PGA decide who you are paired up with and when do they let you know who you are paired with?

Erin, thank you for the email and question.  Players on the PGA Tour are grouped into different categories according to their status.  There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 categories and players can move in and out of different categories depending on their play throughout the year.  For example, I am currently in category #20 (Top 125 on Prior Year’s Official Money List) and during my Rookie year on Tour I was in category #26 (2-25 Nationwide Tour Prior Year/Top 25 & Ties Qualifying Tournament).  Tournament fields begin with category #1 and move downward until their “number” and field size is met.  During the first two rounds, I am paired with members of MY category.  However, after the cut is made on Friday, I am paired with players who are next to me on the leaderboard.  So regardless of category or status, the weekend pairings are an “open market” and I play alongside members of any category.  Tuesday is the answer to the second part of your question in regards to when we receive our pairings for the 1st two rounds.  This is because the Tour waits for the Monday Qualifier to complete and by Tuesday, most players are on site and registered.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Watching the Board and Buying Shoes?...

In last week’s entry, I answered a question from one of my followers about whether or not I looked at the leaderboard during my round.  I answered with a “definitely yes” and ironically I found myself watching the board during last week’s John Deere Classic.  After shooting a disappointing round of even par 71 on Thursday, I found myself well behind the leaders and on the wrong side of the dreaded cut line.  To add to the drama, in my two previous trips to Moline, Illinois, and the John Deere Classic, I failed to make the weekend by ONE lousy shot each time.  Unfortunately, Friday’s second round was shaping up to end exactly the same way!  After overcoming continuous and constant adversity throughout the round, I found myself needing to make a birdie on my final hole to make the cut.  To make matters worse, my round was finishing on the HARDEST hole on the course…#9.  After finding the fairway from off the tee, my ball was sitting197 yards away from a difficult pin which was located on top of a  steep ridge and only three yards from the edge of the green!  I took the “all or nothing” approach as I grabbed my 7-iron from the bag.  A slight miss-hit would definitely not cover the ridge and the result would ultimately lead to a disappointing par and ANOTHER weekend off at the Deere.  I was determined to change my fate as I dug down deep and hit a high, towering 7-iron toward the pin.  My ball easily covered the ridge and rolled within 5 feet of the hole.  As I approached the green and marked my ball, Mr. Adversity showed his ugly face one more time.  Huge spike marks stood between my ball and the hole and unfortunately I had only one option…roll right over them.  Divots in the middle of the fairway, plugged bunker lies, strange and sudden shifts in wind directions, and a timely car alarm in my backswing on my 17th hole were just a few of the hurdles I faced during Friday’s round.  I smiled when I saw the spike marks and figured…WHY NOT!  The day and comeback wouldn’t be complete without one last test, right?  Well, thankfully…I passed the test.  My ball found the bottom of the cup and I earned one of the coveted weekend tee times.  Sure, I wasn’t and will never be pleased with “just making the cut” but this week was different.  I fought through the adversity and played some pretty good golf along the way.  Putts frustratingly rolled over the lip and I just couldn’t get any momentum going.  My second round score of 67 moved me inside the cut line and guaranteed me a paycheck for the week.  However, I wanted and expected more.  I played solid on the weekend with rounds of 68 – 67 but unfortunately, the putts just didn’t fall.  I finished the 2012 John Deere Classic in a tie for 25th but once again, I walked away disappointed.  A top 25 in a PGA Tour event is certainly nothing to frown about but I feel that my game is better right now than I am showing.  Good things are on the horizon and I am excited to see what lies around the corner.

Two of the highlights during the week included our Annual family adventure at the John Deere Big Dig and an evening at one of the best restaurants I have ever eaten at, Duck City.  The Big Dig is located at the John Deere Test Site and for one day, the families of the PGA Tour are allowed to climb aboard heavy equipment and make a mess of the property.  Holes are dug with excavators while dozers move a ton of dirt and rocks.  The fun family atmosphere is full of games, fireworks, and smaller equipment for the kids.   We had a blast and it is certainly a mandatory event for the Adams family each year.  Duck City is located just across the river from Moline in Davenport, Iowa.  My caddy, Barry Williams, is friends with the owners and has been talking about the restaurant for months!  On Friday night, I took Beth and my two wild monkeys there for one of the best meals I have ever had.  Sea Bass, stuffed Pork Chops, and a Cajun Ribeye were brought and devoured at our table.  I highly recommend a trip to Duck City if you are ever in the area…you won’t be disappointed!

This week’s question comes from Mark in Alabama.  He writes:  Blake, what is the best tip on buying the right golf clubs and equipment?

Mark, Thank you for the email and question.  In my profession, I am very fortunate and lucky to have access to all the “latest and greatest” technology and equipment.  However, all because something is new doesn’t mean it is better!  I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the following statement…”I went out and bought this new Driver and I cannot hit it any better than my old one!”  My response is always the same…”Was the Driver fit for you or did you just walk in the store and buy it?”  The answer is ALWAYS the same…”I just bought it.”  Well, there is your problem!  The MOST IMPORTANT part of buying new equipment is being FIT PROPERLY for that equipment.  I always use this analogy when I explain its importance…Would you ever walk into a shoe store and grab a random box of shoes off the shelf, pay for them, and then try them on once you got home?  NO! You have no idea if that box of shoes is a size 6, 12, or your perfect size.  Buying golf clubs is the same way. Technology has improved so much that every Golf Club Company now produces a head that is playable and very good (although, I highly recommend TaylorMade clubs!!).  However, regardless of what Club Company you choose, you MUST find the right Golf shaft for YOU!  Shafts are built for every swing speed imaginable and unless you match the two together…you are just buying a random pair of shoes!