Jason Day Tests World’s Greatest Golf-course Feature

This past Monday, Bob G., an honorary member of the Sunday Morning Group, invited Peter A., Hacker (real name), and me to join him for a round at his home course, GlenArbor Golf Club, in Bedford Hills, New York. We arrived before Bob did, and when I went into the locker room to take a whiz I noticed that one of the lockers had been reserved for someone named Jason Day.

Amazingly, that Jason Day turned out to be the real Jason Day, the No. 1 player in the world. Nobody at the club had mentioned anything about it to Bob, but Day was there to take part in an outing conducted by one of his sponsors, RBC, the Royal Bank of Canada.

IMG<em>20160523</em>142532.jpg

The outing consisted of thirty-two youngish banker types, and the format was a shamble—a best-ball competition in which every player in a foursome plays his or her own ball from the foursome’s best tee shot. Day joined each group for one hole. Here he is, hitting a shot on a hole next to a lake:

hackerdayarrow

That’s not Day on the right, standing in the hazard; that’s Hacker, recovering from an unfortunate drive. Day is on the left, under the red arrow. We got a closer look at him when he and the final RBC foursome played the eighteenth, a 414-yard par 4. The second half of that hole plays almost vertically up a steep hill, toward the clubhouse. Day had to hit is tee shot from the way-back tee, but his drive still flew miles beyond the other drives in the group. Naturally, his drive was the one they chose to use. Here he is, playing his second shot. (He hit it to about three feet, and made the putt).

IMG_20160523_140106-001

You have to figure that Day’s appearance was required by a contract he signed before he turned into Superman, but, even so, he seemed to be having a pretty good time. Here he is during lunch, as GlenArbor’s director of golf was announcing things like the winner of the closest-to-the-pin contest:

IMG_20160523_142636

Actually, I would bet that in some ways the outing was more fun for Day than it was for the bankers—who, after all, were under enormous pressure not to shank, flub, chilly-dip, or yip their ball while the best player in the world stood a few feet away, watching:

IMG_20160523_124950

We weren’t part of the outing, so I couldn’t do something I desperately wanted to do: grab a handful of soft-shell crabs from a big chafing dish on the buffet table. But we did get to try an awesome feature that GlenArbor added recently, right next to the terrace where the bankers were having drinks and eating lunch. Every golf club in the world should add one of these, even if they have to build a lake and a steep hill in order to do it:

IMG_20160523_090051

Those are Pro V1s in the range basket. The tee and the floating green haven’t been there for very long, but the director of golf told us that there are 60,000 balls in the lake already, and that a scuba diver will be coming soon to recover them. Here’s Bob, trying his luck:

IMG_20160523_090903

He missed the green, which is roughly the size of a doormat, but he came pretty close. Jason Day tried, too. Naturally, he stiffed it—and, because he had, he said he wasn’t going to push his luck by taking a second shot. He hit so fast that I didn’t manage to get a picture until afterward, as he was heading back to his table:

IMG_20160523_141246

Great player. Great course. Great floating green. Great afternoon.

IMG_20160523_142637

Reader’s Trip Report: The U.S. Open by Periscope

I met Steve Davis, a reader in California, at Tiger Woods’ World Challenge in 2012. He was easy to spot because he was carrying a homemade periscope, which he was using to see over the heads of people standing in front of him.  Note the beer holder:

stevedavisperiscope2012

Periscopes used to be common at golf tournaments, including the U.S. Open. These two are from 1988:

openperiscope88.jpg

Many spectators at the 1993 Ryder Cup, which I attended (at the Belfry, in England), watched the tournament through periscopes that looked like the boxes that bottles of Johnny Walker scotch come in. (Johnny Walker sponsored the tournament.) The Belfry is a terrible course for spectators, because there are few good vantage points. The periscopes made things better for the people who had them and worse for the people who didn’t. (I saw one guy carrying a paint can, which he stood on until he got too drunk to keep his balance.) Davis’s periscope is a big improvement over those old ones, because the mirrors are separated by dowels rather than solid panels: if you’re standing behind him, you can see through it. He has taken versions of his invention to many tournaments, including this year’s U.S. Open:

stevedavischambers.jpg

Davis works for a copier company, and has “wallpapered” his periscope with color copies of golf mementos. His report from Chambers Bay:
I probably don’t have to tell you how great the U.S. Open was this year. The average person walking the course couldn’t see a lot, though. The fairways were so brown that it was hard to pick up the ball off the tee box. If you were lucky enough to be standing close to a green, you were set—but don’t move and think you’re going to find another spot like that one. My periscope saved my ass, because I could go pretty much anywhere and still see. Here I am on the ninth hole, a par 3:

stevedavischambers2

Davis continues:
I let a lot of other people use it on Saturday and Sunday, and they were amazed at how well they could see from where they were standing—including one girl who was happy because she could watch Jason Day putting on No. 10. The periscope I took to Chambers Bay was an improvement over the one you saw at Sherwood Country Club. I changed the mirror angle, to give it a better field of vision, and I removed the belt strap, because I found that it was just as easy to carry without it, by putting my arm through the poles. I kept the beverage holder, though.
davischambersgate.jpg