Slowly, quietly (well, maybe not so) they have made their way to the high ground at the Atlanta Athletic Club over the last week or so to find out what all the fuss is about.
While we members were relegated to the second eighteen, winding our way through a virtual cityscape, with moving towers and clueless workers timing their clanks and thuds with our backswings, the men in long pants get their practice work in on Highlands.
Word spreads quickly. Tiger Woods came in, sneaky devil, on Monday when the club is closed to members so he had the place to himself to get his work done.
But when the buzz came Tuesday that Phil Mickelson and his caddie, Bones Mackay, were out and about, the crowds began to gather and the news would filter down.
“Hit two drivers, two three-woods on five (No. 5, the dog-leg right par five) and then hit a couple three-woods over the green in two before hitting a hybrid to within two feet.”
Hush-hush stuff. Very scientific.
“Think it was an eight.”
“Looked like a seven to me.”
“Nah, it was surely a nine.”
Mickelson arrived early and stayed late, putting a solid eight or nine hours in, impressing everyone with his work ethic. With short-game guru Dave Pelz alongside, he moved from bunker to bunker, hitting long shots and short.
It finally reached a point where enough was enough. Members, that is.
“You guys mind giving us a little space?” Jim Mackay politely asked the gathered gawkers, who slowly, grumbling, did as asked.
One caught up to Mickelson a hole later.
“Guess you must be a celebrity,” he told the smiling pro.
“Oh? Why’s that?”
“’cause we gotta give you space.”
The space was limited, though, and on the back side, several members edged close to Pelz.
“Tell your man,” one said, “he better keep it underneath three or four of these holes back here.”
Pelz looked up, intrigued, and asked for more information.
It was just another day in the life of one of the world’s best players preparing for one of the four major championships in his season. But for the gathered assemblage, it was a time for collecting memories that will last a lifetime. Memories they gladly spread in the days to come, telling how “Phil” and “Bones” and “Pelz” took their advice on how to play the golf course.
Both courses and the club itself is closed now as the finishing touches are put on the championship. Those who are there, practicing, are obviously not in the Bridgestone field, journeymen, club pros, etc.
Too bad. They’re the ones who could really use our help.
Comments and questions are welcome, even urged here. Let me know what you think at Facebook PGA.com, at Twitter @jamesrhuber and in the comment section below. Be sure and tune in to both PGA.com and TNT’s comprehensive coverage of the 93rd PGA Championship starting next Thursday morning.