The 2004 Senior PGA Championship
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Champions Tour player Tom Jenkins talks to the crowd Friday during his surprise short-game clinic at Valhalla Golf Club.
(Photo: Montana Pritchard,

Jenkins uses free time to conduct impromptu clinic

Champions Tour player Tom Jenkins took a break from practicing Friday at the weather-delayed Senior PGA Championship to help some 200 grateful fans with their short games.

By Bob Denney, PGA of America

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Tom Jenkins is used to weather delays at golf tournaments. His only PGA Tour victory, the 1975 IVB Philadelphia Golf Classic, rain and ensuing flooding postponed play for two days before he struck his first shot.

With the 65th Senior PGA Championship interrupted Friday morning at Valhalla Golf Club due to overnight flooding of Floyd's Fork Creek, Jenkins asked PGA Past President Ken Lindsay, a Rules official, if he could head to the practice range to hit some chip shots. Soon, Jenkins had attracted a few onlookers and a small crowd gradually grew into a modest gallery of more than 200 fans.

Jenkins, who had helped Dave Pelz -- the short game school guru of golf -- in the 1980s, also had given many short game clinics on his own. On this morning, Jenkins was the main event.

"It's amazing how they congregate and watch," said Jenkins. "I taught the short game for a lot of years. It's amazing how interested people are in the short game. I was pitching and chipping and I turned around and all of a sudden there were 50 people and it grew to more than a couple hundred by the end."

A woman asked Jenkins how to prevent blading chip shots, and Jenkins called her inside the gallery ropes and the woman responded by hitting several solid pitches to the flagstick. Then, Jenkins called upon several youngsters, and after correcting a grip flaw for one boy, the new "student" nearly holed a 25-yard pitch from off the green.

"They were all seeking knowledge about the game," said Jenkins. "I see this type of gathering a lot, and especially when there is nobody practicing or playing the course. Golf is so popular and it's not unusual to see this happening, regardless of what player is out there practicing. I thought the fans were wonderful.

"The people love golf, especially here in Louisville, having two major championships in the past. They know about the game and enjoy being out here. To have those people come out and show up, it's nice to have something for them to do as opposed to just standing out there watching nothing. So, it turned out that I got enough practice in and I talked all about all of my secret weapons. I had to explain what my Q link was and what my Japanese positive ion bracelets were, and I've got some putting goggles that I practice putting with, so we had quite a ball out there this morning."

The rising water of Floyd's Fork Creek reminded Jenkins of another creek at White Marsh Valley Golf Club in Lafayette Hill, Pa., some 20 minutes north of downtown Philadelphia. That year, the rising water of Wissahickon Creek was the culprit. Jenkins eventually won by one stroke over Johnny Miller, thanks to a 36-hole Monday finish.

"I know the circumstances well, and I should," said Jenkins, who earned his fifth Champions Tour victory this year at the Blue Angels Classic. "You don't forget your only win on the PGA Tour."

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