With the wet greens this week at Bethpage, the crowds were treated to their favorite thing…backspin. They don’t care if it finishes near the hole or not, loud cheers were the result every time a ball zipped off the front of the green.
Of course the cheers are louder if the ball finishes close to the hole, but lots of backspin results in lots of cheers, regardless of where the ball finishes…and of course, I have a story.
During a round in a Nationwide Tour event in Mississippi several years ago, I had crowd reactions on consecutive holes really crack me up.
The first was on a very long and difficult par 5 that few were reaching in two. There were several hundred people behind the green when I was hitting my second shot. There was water near the green and I had about 240-250. I hit one of the best 2-irons of my life right at the pin. I saw the ball land of the green to a very modest smattering of applause. I squinted, looked at my caddy and asked him if it went just over the green.
We got up there and the ball was about 2 or 3 feet from the pin and I was greeted by another modest smattering of applause. I looked at the gallery and said, “tough crowd. Did I need to hole this to get a cheer?” They laughed, I made the eagle putt and got a huge cheer, as per my previous request.
The next hole was a short par 4 where you lay up with an iron and have 100 or so yards into the green. Again, there was a few hundred people parked behind the green (different group of people). It was a very sloped green that went diagonally from front left to back right and the slope went from back right to front left. The pin was in the back right and the ball in the fairway was above my feet, so I was going to aim behind and right of the flag and let the spin bring it in.
Well, I hit a terrible shot. I pulled it and the ball landed about 10 feet left of the hole, with lots of hook spin and the ball spun back 40-50 feet all the way down to the left front part of the green.
The crowd went wild as if Tiger had just holed a 30 footer on the 72nd green at Bay Hill.
I laughed both before and after I 3-putted for bogey. The gallery from that green followed me to the next tee and I asked someone about what had transpired the previous two holes.
“All of us have hit balls two feet from the hole before, none of us have ever spun a ball back 50 feet.”
There you have it.