The Pits

March 20, 2011

As a kid I loved it when my dad took me to stock car races at the old dirt track at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway. Local driver Lou Lazzaro was my favorite, and I realized early on that Lou was only as good as his pit crew. One badly diagnosed mechanical problem or poor pit stop would finish him for the night. But golf is not car racing. There is only one person who matters, and that is the player. It is not Sean Foley(below) retooling Tiger Woods's swing with an ever-present video camera in tow, Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett with the stack-and-tilt method, Dave Pelz's science-fueled theories on the short game or even Butch Harmon's teachings. (Although, cut Butch some slack; he actually won a PGA Tour event.) Likewise, it's not the sport psychologists circling the range like sharks or the nutritionists and trainers fighting for space in the fitness room.

Swing instruction, fitness training, head games and nutrition have their place, but it is disturbing to hear players give their entourages credit for their successes and blame for their failures. Name one time any of those people hit a shot for the player or holed the putt to win. The beauty of golf is the singular responsibility of the player to either succeed or fail—it has nothing to do with a pit crew. Perhaps golfers should heed the recent warning from the NFL Players Association as it prepared for a lockout. The NFLPA told its members to, among other things, cut back on entourages. Maybe if pro golfers did the same, they would be better off, not only as competitors but also as individuals.

Dottie Pepper is a 17-year LPGA veteran and an analyst for NBC.

PHOTOROBERT BECK (PEPPER)
PHOTOFRED VUICH (FOLEY)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)