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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! 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Respectable but Definitely A Disappointment...

In only three years of existence, The Greenbrier Classic has quickly become one of the Tour’s favorite spots.  The hospitality at the Resort is second to none and the activities away from the golf course are truly special.  Concerts fill the night air while fishing, off road driving, skeet shooting and kayaking occupy the daylight hours.  There is a casino inside the infamous Greenbrier hotel, which as you can imagine, can make or break a person’s week!  Luckily for me, I walked away from the tables with a little more in my pocket than I had when I arrived. 

Beth flew up to The Greenbrier on Wednesday alongside my former UGA roommate Davis Thomason and his wife Lynn.  We had a great time during the week and the 4th of July concert of Lionel Richie and Toby Keith was definitely a highlight.  Davis would probably say that his “highlight” occurred when I introduced him to the legendary CBS announcer Jim Nantz.  The two of them spoke for a while and I can still remember the time I met Mr. Nantz three years ago.  His voice is one of the most recognizable sounds on television and it is the centerpiece for almost every high profile sporting event.  He is a walking encyclopedia and I am very fortunate to have spent a good bit of time with him over the last few years.  

Even though a tie for 17th place was certainly respectable, I definitely walked away from the hills of West Virginia a little disappointed.  I hit the ball well the entire week and after shooting a bogey free round of 64 on Saturday alongside my playing partner Vijay Singh, I entered the final round in a tie for 7th place.  However, from the very first hole on Sunday, things seemed a little out of whack.  Weird and crazy bounces are a part of the game of Golf and not only are they unpredictable…they are expected.  You will never hear me complain or whine about a bad bounce or break because I understand that the game is played with a round ball and on a surface that isn’t perfectly flat!  However, my final round at The Greenbrier was one of the strangest and most frustrating rounds of Golf that I have ever played.  Great shots some how turned into good shots and good shots unfortunately turned into mediocre shots.  Sudden switches in wind direction and strong and unexpected gusts left me scratching my head throughout the day.  As I walked off the 18th green with a disappointing round of 70 I couldn’t help but wonder “what if.”  I played well enough to win but once again the week belonged to someone else.  I will continue to work hard because I know that MY time is coming…and it is near!

This week’s question comes from Wes in Georgia.  He writes:  Blake, Do you look at the Leaderboard during your round?

Wes, Thank you for the email and question.  I ABSOLUTELY look at the Leaderboard during my round.  As an athlete who played every sport growing up, I think it is only natural to “check the score.” Golf is very different from the other sports I used to play because I cannot directly effect how someone else plays.  Unlike those other sports, I cannot play defense on anyone and prevent them from making birdies!  The golf course is my opponent and I can only control MY golf ball.  However, I use the Leaderboard as both motivation and a guide.  It shows me to either “get on my horse” and make up ground or try and create a bigger lead.  The Leaderboard also shows me how difficult the course is playing each and every day.  The scores paint a very telling picture of course conditions, pin locations, and good Ol’ Mother Nature.  The Leaderboard is a very valuable tool and as you can see, I use it for a variety of reasons.  

Monday, July 2, 2012

Ol' Mother Nature and a Great Organization...

Our Nation’s Capital was my home for the week and thanks to a disgruntled visit from Ol’ Mother Nature, the AT&T National at Congressional took a pretty hard hit under the chin.  Violent lightning and winds recorded at 80 mph hit the area late Friday evening.  Hundreds of trees were uprooted, tents were sent airborne, and several grandstands were flattened.  The damage was incredible and even though tee times were pushed back several hours on Saturday, many people believed that the course would be unplayable until Sunday.  However, thanks to the hundreds of volunteers, I found myself with a tee time only 3 hours later than normal!  Incredible.  When I got to the course, trees were everywhere!  The tennis court was destroyed, fences were demolished, and several buildings and trailers had enormous trees lying on top of them.  I couldn’t believe the amount of damage that Ol’ Mother Nature had created.  In what I believe was an extremely smart move by the Tour, no spectators or volunteers were allowed on the course during Saturday’s round.  But wow…what a strange feeling that created!  Saturday of a PGA Tour event and not a soul was on site!  The grandstands (the ones that stood strong during the storm) were just sitting there…empty.  There were no cheers, no applause and no encouragement all day.  In fact, when I was fortunate enough to hole a difficult chip shot on the 11th hole, there wasn’t a sound…not even a peep from outside the ropes.  I looked at my playing partners and jokingly said, “Dang, tough crowd!”

Congressional Country Club was the host of the 2011 U.S. Open and it played extremely difficult.  I drove the ball well (#2 in Driving Accuracy for the entire field) but my irons weren’t very sharp and a balky putter led to a mediocre finish.  I made the weekend (which in my Profession is a good thing) but I didn’t play anywhere near my best.  I finished the event in a tie for 49th and lost to a man who chalked up his 74th career PGA Tour victory.  Tiger won for the third time this year and this W was pretty special for two reasons.  #1.  He won the event where he was the Host and #2. He passed Jack Nicklaus on the list for career victories (now #2 behind Sam Snead).   As I drove to West Virginia for this week’s event, one thing was disappointingly clear…I am now 74 PGA Tour wins behind Tiger!  Wow…I better get on my horse!

This week’s event, The Greenbrier Classic, will once again be special.  In what has become one of the Tour’s favorite stops, the Players and Fans are in for a treat.  Music will once again be the theme for the week as Toby Keith, Lionel Richie, Rod Stewart, and Bon Jovi take the stage beginning Wednesday.  I am playing tomorrow morning with my good friend, Kenny Perry and I am looking forward to our time together.  He has been a huge blessing to me during my time on the PGA Tour and I am grateful for all his insight and support.  He spends most of his time on the Champions Tour these days so our normal Tuesday game isn’t so normal anymore!  Beth is coming in town on Wednesday without our two precious but wild monkeys.  It should be a great week of relaxation for her.

This week’s question comes from Jim in Indiana.  He writes:  Blake, I know that the PGA Tour is very supportive of charities.  What charities or organizations do you support?

Jim, Thank you for the email and the question.  Most people don’t realize this fact... Each year, the PGA Tour donates MORE MONEY to charities and organizations than the NBA, the NFL, and Major League Baseball COMBINED!!  Charities are a huge part of my life.  I try and support as many as I can each and every year.  From fundraisers to general donations, I try my best to help out others.  Obviously, it is impossible to give to everyone who asks but I do my best.  Rather than list every charity or organization that I contribute to each year, I would like to mention one that is very dear to my heart.  The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is truly one of the best organizations that I have ever been a part of.  Their impact on young men and women is incredible.  I contribute to their National fund every year and attend yearly fundraisers and events.  I was both humbled and honored when the FCA approached me for their support in my hometown of Eatonton, Georgia.  With their help, I am hosting an FCA Golf Tournament at Cuscowilla on September 24th of this year.  The event will provide a platform to impact and spread God’s Good Will on a countless number of men and women.  I am honored to be a part of this great organization and I encourage each of you to support FCA or any charity that is dear to your heart.  I am providing information to the Golf Tournament below as well as on my website (  Please get involved with something in your community for the sake of those in need.

FCA Golf Tournament Information:  under Schedules Tab/ Community Appearances