Diary by: Rob LaBritz
And I’ve been the lowest scoring club pro at the PGA Championship twice! In 2010 at Whistling Straits in Koehler, Wisconsin, and last year, 2019, at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, New York. They call that ‘Winning Club Pro’; I call it a tie for 64th and and a tie for 60th place in the tournament.
I work out daily to take care of my body. It’s my tool to compete on the world’s biggest golf stage. It will pay dividends. I turn 50 in 2021, and have access as a ‘Senior’ to the Champions Tour, Senior PGA Championship, Senior US Open, and Senior British Open. I know I’m going to be able to compete at the pro level as a Senior, and if I didn’t think I could win, I wouldn’t be doing it…period.
They say age is just a number and I for one do not feel at all like I’m going to hit the half-a-century mark in my life next year. As a matter of fact, my beautiful wife, Kerry, is pregnant with our third child. They are calling that a quarantine pregnancy. I’m calling it a bonus baby. And by the way, I still feel like I’m in my 20’s.
Monday, August 3, 2020
5:30 a.m. alarm woke me up this morning, and I felt like my head had just hit the pillow. A quick hour work-out and stretch to get my body online is just what the doctor ordered. A nice warm up on the short game area and a few hours of range work to get my distances dialed-in.
I played the back 9 holes with another club pro, David Muttit, from New Mexico. I felt like I was prepared and ready for battle, and I hit a few practice drives on each hole to get used to the lines off the tee. I practiced out of the most severe areas of rough on the course that I could find, to see what troubles the course has to offer. If my plan goes well, I won’t see any of those areas during competition.
A little lunch and a few more hours of work on my short game and at the range. Back to the hotel for another work-out and a long stretch. The air is cold and my body needs the extra time to loosen up in the colder weather. I’m forcing myself to stay up tonight until 10 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, so I get acclimated to the time change. I have a practice round planned with old friend Rich Beem, Tommy Fleetwood, and Bernd Weisberger at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow.
Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Full Day of Practice
5:30 a.m. alarm gave me enough time to get up, do my one hour work-out and stretching routine, get dressed, get to the course, eat breakfast, warm up, and get to the tee by 8:30 a.m. for my first full 18-hole practice round.
The course is long and the rough is up, so driving the ball in the fairway is paramount. My practice round went well. I’ve got a great feel for the course and understand where to attack and where to be a little more conservative. The new equipment feels great.
After the round I had to shoot a tip for Michael Breed’s show ‘Course Record’ that will air during the Championship. Then an interview with ESPN’s Sten Verret and Neil Everet. After that was an hour-long interview with the Associated Press about my past finishes in the PGA Championship and being the two-time and defending low PGA club professional.
Then back to the short game area to work on chipping and putting, before some time at the range for some swing work. Boom. Dialed in.
Back to the room for some stretching and dinner and a long overdue FaceTime with my family. Isaias hit Pound Ridge and GlenArbor pretty hard, there are a lot of downed trees blocking roads, and power is out, but Kerry texted me to say they’re O.K. It’s a lot on my mind as I prepare for my seventh major championship. Off to bed now. I have a practice round with Webb Simpson tomorrow.
Wednesday, August 5, 2020
You try to sleep. You breathe. You calm your mind… and it just won’t happen. The time change is tough. That was last night. Only four hours of sleep. What a bummer. I have to be at the course today for a photo shoot that includes the 20 PGA club professionals that qualified for the event at 7:30 a.m. Then another Zoom call with the professionals on the Golf Business Network.
My practice round with Webb Simpson was at 11:15, so I was able to catch a 30-minute power nap before we played, which was totally needed. It was a nice surprise when Dustin Johnson joined us for a few holes. I’m getting very used to this difficult course. If you drive the ball well, you will have chances to control your ball into the greens. If you miss the fairways your opportunity to do that is taken away due to the length of the grass and how thick it is in places.
After playing, I worked on my short game and swing for a few hours. I’m feeling great about my swing and ball control. My length is right there with the top players in the world. Todd Luigi, my caddie, always reminds me of that. He tells me the other tour pros and caddies don’t believe that I’m actually 49. I have started to get a few “Labritz, you’re going to clean up on that Senior Circuit” comments from guys around the PGA. It’s nice to hear, but my task at hand is to hoist that Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday.
Nice dinner at the hotel with Todd, my only company. We’re confined to the golf course and the hotel. What a weird time we are in. After dinner, quick work-out and stretch, and off to bed.
Friday, August 7, 2020
No Wanamker…this time!
5 a.m. alarm. Get up, get the coffee, warm up my body with some dynamic exercises, and off to the course to get a quick bite to eat. The ’late-early’ tee times are the toughest.
The day started with a birdie, but didn’t turn out to be one of my best. I started on #10 and my iron play just wasn’t crisp. When the wind is blowing, and you’re not hitting the ball in the exact center of the club face, it becomes very difficult to control your distance and trajectory. Sometimes this happens when you’re out there. I can’t explain it, but it happens. I will go to the television tape to see what my swing looked like during the round. Something was just a bit off.
I battled on every shot. I never give up, and have trained myself over the years to only focus on one shot at a time. This is something that every golfer should master. You must always stay in the present and never dwell on the past or try to predict the future. I managed to knock-out a par-par finish after some great shots into the very difficult 8th and 9th holes. But I shot 76 and finished the 36 holes at 7 over par…below the cut line…an early ticket home.
A few quick interviews and I’m off to change my flight to get home a few days early - sans the Wanamaker Trophy. Definitely not the result that I wanted but like all missed cuts, you reflect, learn, and move on, taking all the tidbits from the week, and applying them to the ever-improving process.
At the hotel, waiting for some dinner, and packing up…so I can get up early, stretch, do a Sirius XM PGA Tour radio show at 7:10am, and catch my 8 a.m. flight home. It never stops, but when you do what you love, it doesn’t feel like work. I know one thing for sure, my wife and family will be there at the airport waiting for me, to give me hugs and kisses like they always do, no matter how I play. I don’t carry missed cuts with me, and definitely don’t dwell on the negatives. It’s all just a learning experience that will make me a better player in the long run.
Back to being Director of Golf at GlenArbor…after I quarantine…and training for the next tournament.