You couldn’t go anywhere in Mpls this weekend without hearing about the PGA Championship, held at Hazeltine National in suburban Chaska. People were either just back from the game, getting ready to go to the game, or watching the game on TV.
Few people outside the Twin Cities know that the area is actually a golfers paradise. Long winters aside, the Minneapolis area boasts three courses that have hosted the U.S. Open golf tournament – Minikahda, Hazeltine and Interlachen (which is in my suburb, Edina). This NBC news story quotes PGA CEO Joe Steranka as saying that “Minnesota has one of the highest per capita golf participation rates in the entire nation.”
(How? you might ask. Simple – follow the snowbirds. They’re spending at least a few weeks every year in Palm Springs, Arizona and Florida, eschewing the beach so they can work on their game. Come May, don’t rule them out).
My father, an avid golfer, has volunteered at PGA events before. He worked on the driving range in 2002, taking balls to the players. He turned down an opportunity to be a driver this week, shepherding players from the airport to their private lodgings, because I was in town. So the game dominated the TV set the entire weekend.
To me, golf is about as exciting as watching paint dry AT the dentist office. But the last few rounds of the PGA were captivating. While the crowds spent all week following Tiger Woods around, their allegiance shifted as Y.E. Yang chipped his way into the lead on the 14th hole. And during those last few shots, it was touching to see a player – ranked 110 – realize the greatest moment of his career.
Yang is the first Asian-born golfer to ever win a major tournament, according to the Wall Street Journal. He also picked up golf at age 19 – relatively late in the sporting world. Although he had beat Tiger once before in a tournament in China, he tempered his nervousness over being paired with Woods, who most people assumed would win. “I really had nothing much at stake,” Yang said in an interview with Star-Tribune sports columnist Jim Souhan. “And that’s how I played it.”
Great advice for all of us.