Source: Sherman Publications

Detroit athletes gather for a game of golf

by Gabriel L. Ouzounian

June 06, 2012

The 2012 Senior Open is just around the corner and the people responsible for making sure the event goes off without a hitch answered questions on May 30.

“It’s been 18 years since the USGA conducted a national championship at Indianwood, and we’re thrilled to be back,” said Manager of Championship Communications for the USGA Brian DePasquale. Indianwood previously saw use from the organization for the U.S. Women’s Open in 1989 and 1994. Many in the crowd and the panelists saw the Senior Open as the return of “big-time” golf to Michigan.

Evidently the greater Detroit area did too, as sports celebrity after sports celebrity took turns welcoming the USGA to Indianwood. Detroit Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz took the podium to present Senior Open Defending Champion Olin Browne with a Lions jersey and shared his thoughts on the sports legacy of Detroit.

“I grew up in Baltimore and lived all over the country, but Detroit has always had a reputation as a great sports town,” said Schwartz. “There are very few cities in the country that can support four sports and still devote time to all the other sports from golf to tennis. Just last week I played in a bocce tournament with the Lions - this place is well, well supported by sports fans. We host all-star games in baseball, Super Bowls and this Senior Open just extends that legacy.

“Anything that adds to the sport culture in Detroit is good for us and we look forward to supporting this anyway we can.”

Quarter Back Matthew Stafford, retired and active Red Wings and other Lions staff were also present at the event to play golf following the questioner.

On the panel sat Senior Director of Rules and Amateur Status Jeff Hall, Browne, 2011 Mid-Amateur Champion Randal Lewis, Indianwood Country Club Vice President and General Manager Keith Aldridge and U.S. Senior Open Senior Director Tim Flaherty. The five discussed their feelings about the 2012 Senior Open, the inner workings of the event and their opinion of the course itself.

“Indianwood is a beautiful venue for this Senior Open and I had the good fortune to play it yesterday and my impression came right off the first tee through the entire track,” said Browne. “Indianwood is a beautiful, old style track. I think because this course and the U.S. Open’s course (The Olympic Club in San Francisco) are designed by the same architect there will be a continuity this year that we maybe haven’t seen for a while.”

Lewis agreed and said the course and the event was going to be something that “everyone is going to love.”

Speaking on the course difficulty itself, Browne simply said hard holes are easy when played well and easy holes are hard when you mess them up.

“Any time someone has played well the course is exposed,” said Browne. “If you set the ceiling on something you will achieve that and go no further. The best approach in a tournament is to set no limit - ask (retired Basketball Coach) Bobby Knight who I got to play with once. What he tells his players at half time is that if they’re up by 20 ‘I’ll be out there throwing chairs because I want them up by 40.’ Its one of the reason Tiger Woods has set such an exceptional pace in his career - he didn’t beat (golfer Jack Nicklaus’s) records; he wanted to obliterate them.”

He added that golf is a game of risk and reward and that it was always possible to “butcher a hole or make an eagle” but it’s always important to maximize the opportunity.

Hall also commented on the condition of the course, mentioning how a well maintained and set up golf course offers a fair degree of intimidation to the players, which is what he said the USGA is looking for.

“Firm and fast is what we strive for and when executed well, the course can get in the players’ heads as soon as they park their car. That’s ok; we want these players more than striking golf shots. We want a full examination of golf,” said Hall. “Indianwood is a very straight forward golf course - it’s all right there in front of you. There are very small targets with the putting greens averaging about 5,500 square feet excluding the 18th which is about 20,000 square feet. But these players know when they cannot let the ball get past a hole if they want an opportunity to putt.”

USGA officials mentioned that tickets are still available though they reassured questioners the crowds would be “out there.” Still, they said any help in sell the last few tickets would be appreciated. For information on purchasing a ticket or volunteering, visit iwgcc.com.