Trip of a lifetime to Phoenix, Arizona
Updated: May 5, 2018
Just over a week has passed since I got back from Phoenix, Arizona, and I thought the incredible trip would be the perfect way for me to kick off this new blog of mine. It was late November last year when I got the phone call to say I was shortlisted for PING's TGI Custom Fitter of the Year Award, so it's been a long (and wet!) winter waiting to jump on the plane and head out to PING's hometown.
When the day finally arrived I met my fellow finalists Michael McCrudden and Richard Gordon at Heathrow Airport, along with Matt Clark from PING Europe and Matt Millard from TGI Golf. Right from start I could see the others were as excited as I was, and we all hit it off right from the get go. Good job as the flight to Phoenix was ten and a half hours!
After a full day of travelling on the Friday, we began our USA adventure with a Saturday morning round of golf at Talking Stick GC. I have to say the American's do golf so well; very relaxed friendly clubhouses, free range balls waiting for you before your round, complimentary water stops every few holes (these were essential!). On the second hole of the day I had a proper 'American experience' when I played I nice shot from a fairway bunker, and 40 yards behind me from the driveway to the club a charming fellow lent out the window of his Jeep and yelled "Hey Buddy, nice out!".
The excitement really started to build on the Sunday morning as we had a 6:50am tee time at TPC Scottsdale, home of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. That sounds like an early tee time, but with the jet lag we were fresh and ready to go! After some negotiating on the 1st tee, it was agreed we would play from the back tees (7,266 yards).
We had a local Fore Caddie called Thomas who really added to the experience, and impressively jogged down every fairway ahead of us to give us lines/ball spot. On the 17th green he made a nice comment of "I'm going to have withdrawal symptoms tomorrow without you guys. Most people who come here can't play for s**t!". We made sure to tip him after that.
All the courses we played during our trip were in superb condition, but the firm sloping green structures of TPC made it extremely challenging. The personal highlight for me had to be a birdie 2 on the famous par 3 16th hole. Yes the 20,000 spectators were missing, but still it was a nice 8 iron and 20 foot putt that I will remember forever.