Tuesday, May 7, 2013

An Effortless Career

I'm sitting here in my living room watching arguably the most popular professional golfer ever be inducted into the 2013 World Golf Hall of Fame, Fred Couples.   I'm sure it's an emotional night for many of his fans, I know there's not a dry eye in this house.  I'm flattered that I had the distinct pleasure of playing junior golf with him, but I'm more proud for the City of Seattle, his hometown.  A lot of great players have come out of Seattle, but none like Fred Couples, the pride of O'Dea High School.

One distinct thing hasn't changed when you hear people rave about Fred Couples' career.  His effortless swing, his care free attitude, and how easy he makes it look when he plays.

It hasn't changed.

I remember the little guy from Jefferson Park when he played in the Bellevue Classic one year.  It's so long ago I can't remember the year.  He didn't wear a glove back then because he couldn't afford one.  He still doesn't wear one today.   He was only 12 or 13 years old then and he shot a pair of 72's.  He displayed the same touch around the greens back then as he does today.  The only noticeable difference  was how short he was off the tee and how he got up and down from everywhere--unlike his power game we've known him for over the course of his stellar career.

You don't get nicknamed "Boom Boom" for nothing.

I remember telling my brother-in-law back then that he was going to play on the tour some day.  He laughed at me like I was crazy.  It was a short time later at age 15 when Freddie really started showing his distance off the tee---and the effortless way he went about things.  I remember him air mailing the 4th hole on the east course at Sahalee from 220 yards with a six iron.

At age 18 he fired a 65 at Glendale Country Club to win the Washington State Open, in tennis shoes.   I believe that competitive course record still stands today.

If you've never seen him play in person, make a trip to a tour event.  He is magical in everything he does, from the way he fixes a divot, marks his ball on the green, or the finesse shots he hits with such ease.  I followed him around at the LA Open at Riviera a few years back and it was then when I realized why this guy was so popular.

He made it look so easy.

The largest rap on Fred was the fact he didn't work on his game like some of the other tour players.  When asked tonight what his biggest regret was he said, "Probably the fact that I didn't practice enough".

He obviously didn't need to.

The biggest thing that sticks out in my mind is how nothing has changed since those days back in the 70's in the beautiful northwest.  He was shy, never a guy to hang around and look at the leaderboard, and humble like he is today.  It's a tribute to anyone raising a junior golfer.  Although both of his parents have passed away, you can bet they are as proud as punch for this night.

I can't think of a better tribute to such a popular, humble "kid from Seattle".

Congrats Freddie.  So well deserved.

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