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Opinions...and the PGA Championship

Credit goes to Shaquille O'Neal who opined "Opinions are like belly buttons, everyone has one. I never knock a man for having one." I thought that cliche/quote was coined long before him! Regardless, I appreciate his generosity. How's that? 

From time to time, I grow weary of hearing opinions. Too often they are charged, entitled and condescending. I hear them quite often without asking for them. But the 2023 PGA Championship changed that narrative. From the second major of the year, I was reminded that sharing our opinions can be fun, playful and provide good insight into one's personality. Next time, members of your foursome weigh in too heavy on something, consider seeking their opinion on the following.
  1. Walk and. Talk—yes or no?!
    If you are a sports fan, it should come as no surprise that the interview space has now encroached upon the walk from the tee box to where a golfer's drive ends up. The days of waiting for the post game presser to hear from an athlete are long gone. 

    From inside the dugout to the sidelines and on the way into or out of the tunnel, coaches and athletes alike are grabbed for a quick conversation. 

    Golf fans call it "walk and talk." Although it has been part of other tourneys, the PGA is the first time I saw it underway. I noticed that Tony Finau put on wireless earbuds after his drive and I thought to myself "What is going on?" I quickly realized golf now shares the same space as other sports. 

    I didn't need to ask my trusted friend Charlie, a true student of the game what he thought of it. I knew. His principles for disapproval and disdain were grounded. Others love the insight they get from a golfer and to hear what is going on inside the mind of greatness.

    Questions loom large on how it affects a golfer's game. In the meantime, ask your playing partner what he/she thinks!

  2. Battle or Beautiful? What do you prefer?!
    The PGA Championship was once the fourth and final major of the year. Because scheduling around the NFL and the Olympic games, albeit every four year, this tourney falls between The Masters and The U.S. Open. That May time slot means that weather may present a real challenge at many a host site.

    Located in upstate New York, Oak Hill Golf Club in Rochester brought hearty wind and driving rain. While this is certainly possible under sunny skies—as seen at many a U.S. Open, it's just not a given that May equals warm weather. And truth be told, when I watch a golf tournament I just love seeing warm weather. Perhaps its my version of displacement but I want to see pristine skies, perfect conditions and the dream of what could be. Though I live in California, it just doesn't feel that way...

    My former colleague and friend Tom, is life long fan of the game who watches every major from start to finish (he's retired). He said "I absolutely love when a player has to battle the elements." He wants to see how they handle not only the pressure to win but the added challenge of hitting through long rough that is doused in rain, teeing off into strong gusts of wind." He certainly has a point, I just want to live vicariously through these golfers—their game, their ability and the warmest and sunniest of places to play.

  3. Amateur or Pro
    One novel aspect of the game of golf, and in particular the majors are the exemptions and the inclusion of amateurs in the competition.

    As seen at many a Masters or US Open, one of these qualifiers makes his or her mark. This year was no exception. The story of PGA club pro (Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club), Michael Block was incredible, inspiring and interesting.

    In "How did Michael Block qualify for the 2023 PGA Championship? Qualification criteria" Joseph McMahon writes, 
He has played in five PGA Championships, including this one. It’s his seventh major, but it’s his first time making the cut in one of them. In the final round of the PGA Championship he starts his day on Sunday T8 and is paired with Rory McIlroy. He is one of 20 club pros to be invited to the event, but he’s the only one that everyone is talking about. 
Block hasn’t won a PGA Championship or a Masters, US Open or British Open. He isn’t a Senior PGA Champion and he hasn’t won one of the last three Playes Championships. 
What Michael Block did do to qualify was finish T2 at the 2023 PGA Professional Championship.  
And in case it needed to get any better, Block recorded a hole-in-one on the 15th hole during his final round Sunday. According to The Athletic, this is what you need to know: 
  • Block entered Sunday at even par playing with Rory McIlroy.
  • Going to the 15th tee, Block was 2 over for the tournament.
  • Block’s hole-in-one brought him back to even par.
  • Block finished with a final-round 71. Because he finished T15, Block qualified for the 2024 PGA Championship. 
Block is both the best exemption and a notable exception but I don't usually cheer for amateurs in a major tourney. Call me Eeyore or "the Grinch," but as my friend Jimmy O'D said "I didn't pay to watch an amateur play." I agree. Golf is an unpredictable game. Part of its appeal is the story line that allows for us mortals to play with and against the greats....but this isn't what make a tourney great to me. You?!
Opinions are funny things. They can be kind and generous, cutting, critical and even obtuse.  They can also be important, helping us to understand what we think and why. Opinions can even be teachers—revealing important truths or insights into human nature, our beliefs and preferences, dreams and desires. As a teacher, I work hard to help students develop informed opinions, for young people believe "everyone has a right to an opinion." Sure, but a discerning one, a careful or creative one makes for a more thoughtful conversation or deeper dialogue. 

So maybe we start with asking opinions on matters of play and preference more from there and see where it takes us. Just a suggestion; not an opinion. 

Photo Credits
Brooks umbrella
Shaq Quote




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