Part II 2012 Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores Golf Club

Dr. Eric Wilson with the College of Golf recounts the rest of his journey as a caddy for Ken Martin. Read along to get some great insider tips and see what a career in golf has to offer!

Tuesday was a “sleep-in” day, but Ken and I both woke up around 6:00am. I checked emails and began my blog over a cup of coffee in the motel lobby. Ken came down around 10:00am, and we packed up the Mercedes for the trip to the course. Arriving close to 10:30am, the breakfast for the players/families was closed, and the staff was setting up for lunch. Ken and I grabbed a light lunch (salad and cold cuts) and sat down with Steve Jones and Denis Watson (former PGA Senior Championship champion), and the talk turned to the difficulty of the greens at Harbor Shores. Even designer Jack Nicklaus joked that he had buried some elephants in the greens.

Everyone we have run into has talked about how hard the greens are, especially number 10. Check out the video below of Nicklaus holing a putt of somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 feet up the 6 foot slope.

After lunch, we went shopping in the Senior PGA Championship Gift Shop for mementos of our experience. We got a couple of flags that Ken put in the Players’ Locker Room for signatures and a few other goodies as reminders of our time at Harbor Shores. Ken hit balls on the range, chipped , pitched and putted as we waited for our 3:30pm tee time with James Mason.

Getting to the number 10 tee, we were joined by Champions Tour players Jim Thorpe and Gene Jones, both very successful players. We couldn’t have asked for nicer people to play with, as all three were very complimentary of Ken’s game (even though he wasn’t playing up to his normal standards).

There were spectators around the course asking for autographs, and everyone in our group took time to sign flags, hats, and golf balls. As Ken was searching for a swing key, we decided to play 18 holes instead of just 9, and got off the golf course around 8:15pm. Bobby Clampett had made reservations for us at Rye’s Belles restaurant at 8:00pm, but I didn’t get his phone message until after we got off the golf course, so we were a bit late getting to dinner. When we arrived at Rye’s Belles, David Frost and a few friend had joined Bobby for some conversation until we got there.

David and his friends left shortly after we sat down, but we had a most enjoyable dinner with Bobby.  Both Ken and I are two of only 14 Bobby Clampett Impact Zone Golf Master Instructors in the country, so naturally the discussion revolved around Impact Zone Golf and Bobby’s success on the 2012 Champions Tour (he has had 4 top-ten finishes in the 6 events he has played). We had run into Jim Karr, PGA Professional from Florida and a friend of Ken’s, during practice earlier in the day, and Ken and Jim arranged for a practice round on Wednesday morning, following an 8:00am breakfast.

As we returned to the motel, Ken suggested a 7:30am meeting time in the motel lobby on Wednesday morning. I read a little before falling asleep, looking forward to another day carrying the bag of a great friend and great player and watching the world’s best senior golfers ply their wares on a challenging and beautiful golf course.

Woke up around 6:00am again on Wednesday morning, gathered up all the necessary items for the day, and went down to the motel lobby around 7:00am to blog and have a cup of coffee. Ken arrived promptly at 7:30am, and we once again loaded up the Mercedes for the drive to Harbor Shores. Breakfast consisted of fruit, scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, coffee, and juice in the PGA Players/Families dining room overlooking the putting green and first tee.

As we finished breakfast, Ken saw Jim Karr on the first tee and went over to talk with him while I found a spot on the range and a bucket of balls for his warm-up. Ken had a brief warm-up prior to heading to the first tee, where he and Jim had the course basically to themselves (lucky timing!). Ken struck the ball well, as he found what he had been searching for the day before. Once again it was a practice round, so both players hit multiple shots to different pin locations and putted to different locations on the greens.

The winds were tricky and will prove to be a challenge the rest of the week. We made the turn in approximately two hours, and when we got to the tenth tee, Angel Franco and Fred Holton were waiting and asked to join us on the back nine. Ken stuck wedges to 3 feet on ten and 8 feet on 11 to birdie the first two holes on the back nine. From that point on, he worked the green complexes by hitting shots to different locations and putting around to different spots. It was another enjoyable round, as I met and chatted with the other caddies – one was a consultant for the pharmaceutical industry, another was a real estate owner/landlord, and the third was a professional caddie for Angel Franco, whom I met last year when Ken played with Angel at the Senior PGA Championship at Valhalla.

We had lunch with Jim Karr after the round, then Ken proceeded to the short game area to do some work. On the way, we ran into Sandy Lyle and his caddie Butch Wilhelm and stopped and chatted for about half an hour, discussing the golf course, Sandy’s induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame, and Sandy’s winning the Pro-Am yesterday with a team score of 15 under par. When we finally got to the short game area, Ken worked on trajectory and rhythm as he hit wedges to different locations on the practice green. It is a true pleasure to watch a master at work – every golfer could benefit from watching Ken’s rhythm and flow as he nips each wedge shot off the turf with a mere brush of the grass.

The shots are so consistent and predictable, and, of course, this is where the best of the best really focus their time and efforts. I know that watching and playing with Ken has improved my wedge play immensely – I just need to put in more time developing feel to accompany technique.

Ken gave me a caddie tip on the way to dinner at SOE Café; he suggested that I carry a wet wash cloth to clean his golf balls instead of wetting the end of a towel, as I had been doing in the past. Great idea and one that I will put into play today. We had a light dinner (soup and salad) at SOE Café and got back to the room around 8:00pm. I finished the book I had been reading and fell asleep, trying to mentally prepare for the first day of a major championship tomorrow. Wish us luck!