PARKER, Colo. – This is what it’s like to play golf when the wind comes whippin’ down the plain.
It was Robin Freeman’s turn to play, and as he stood on the tee of Colorado Golf Club’s par-3 sixth hole in Thursday’s opening round of the 71st Senior PGA Championship, he needed to convince himself that the right club to cover the 261 yards in front of him was the one he held in his hand: a 5-iron.
Freeman knows about playing in the wind. He attended the University of Central Oklahoma and worked as a club professional at Oak Tree Golf Club in Edmond, Okla. But still, a 261-yard 5-iron?
Those kind of bizarre club selections have been commonplace this week at Colorado GC, where it blew so hard Monday afternoon, with gusts upward of 60 mph, that practice was rendered useless. Those gales made Wednesday’s steady gusts of 35 mph almost pleasant.
“I played a lot at the Castle Pines tournament, probably seven times or so,” said Freeman, a successful graduate of six PGA Tour Q-Schools. “I played in the Reno tournament ever since it’s been in existence. So I’ve played at altitude before. I know the calculations pretty well.
“But still . . . it’s still pretty hard to stand back there and say, ‘Yeah, I’m going to hit this 261. I’m going to hit a soft 5-iron.’ That just doesn’t compute. But you still have to commit to the swing and just make it. It is hard to do, however.”
Freeman handled the conditions quite well. Thanks to what he called perhaps the best putting round of his life – seven one-putts in his first 10 holes and five birdies that covered a total of about 100 feet – he fashioned a 6-under-par 66. Not bad for a guy who got into the field off a list of alternates.
“It seemed to work,” said Freeman. “Hopefully it will last for three more days.”