Pro’s Pro

Amazingly, 18 holes of watching my off plane swing did not affect Jay Haas in round one of the Constellation Energy Sr. Players Championship.  Haas went low with a 66 Thursday, earning a tie for 2nd place with Tom Watson, one shot back of Lonnie Nielsen.

Haas was forced to endure, as he is every week out here on the Champions Tour, the dreaded Pro-Am.  The best golfers in the world, thrust into a fivesome (guaranteeing at least a five hour round) of amateurs that have non stop questions, uninformed swings, and likely poor etiquette (not my group the ams were great partners.)

Now, it’s not the worst thing in the world.  Again, the group with whom Haas played worked quickly and with smiles.  But I’ve witnessed enough pro-ams and you certainly know enough golfers that are horrible to endure for a round.  Now imagine those guys when they really feel entitled.  That can make for a miserable afternoon.

But from the moment we met Jay on the first tee his mission was clear.  He was our host.  Haas took it upon himself to read nearly every putt, to offer thoughtful advice, and answer all the questions we had about his life as a pro golfer.  He didn’t just give tips, he delivered real lessons.  There was a moment on the back nine, about three hours into the round, when Jay and I were standing on the right side of 13 green while one of our partners was kind of stuck in the woods on the left side.  She had a scoreboard in her way, and was planning to hit over it and through a tree.  Haas jogged over before she hit, explained she could take relief, and helped her plan the shot.

That is going above and beyond what any of us could have hoped for, much less expected.

I asked Haas why he was so committed to our enjoyment of the day.  He made it clear that Wednesday is just as important as Thursday through Sunday because without the sponsors and fans, he has no tour on which to continue earning millions.  This is a business decision, but also a personal one.  He simply feels blessed for his opportunities, and if he can share what it’s like to be inside the ropes if only for a round, he does it with glee.

So hats off to Haas for “getting it”, and here’s hoping his influence on the rest of his brethren remains strong.

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