A View from “Inside the Ropes” – Colin Inglis Insight from Playing In a Major PGA Tournament- Extended
Playing in a PGA Major tournament event, as a working club assistant pro, with a family to raise, and limited practice time, is tantamount to being a “local hero,” nightclub band, guitar player, and then being asked to share the stage in an arena concert with the Rolling Stones. Exciting, fun, and terrifying don’t begin to explain the range of emotions that even the best club golf pros would experience. But our own Assistant Golf Pro, Colin Inglis had that very opportunity, by earning a slot in the recent PGA Player’s Championship, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
I have known Colin since his days in High School. To say that he is “super competitive” would be an understatement of epic proportions. So, he wasn’t pleased with his final scores, even though a huge range of very well-known, long-time tour pros also had similar scores below the cut line. Kim, Poulter, Westwood, Stenson, Johnson, Yang, Garcia, Scott, Cantaly, and Harrington, are just a handful of tour professionals who also didn’t make the cut to “play on the weekend.”
But, this article isn’t about the outcome, it’s about the experience. One that none of us SHCC member-golfers could ever imagine. What follows is a short list of experiences related to me in a casual conversation upon his return to “normal life.”
See Full Interview Below
Question: How cool is it to just be there, in the same rarified air as some of the best golfers in the world, inside the ropes, where no average fan can tread?
Colin: It’s hard to explain. It’s crazy how people are just watching you practice. Everyone wants an autograph from anyone who is just warming up. Little kids who don’t even know you, wanting you to sign anything, and just wanting “high fives.” It’s pretty crazy. What those guys go through in a week, in the positive, is like…we get to the airport, and there is a Cadillac Escalade waiting to take you to there. Any time you wanted food, there was a full buffet waiting…I mean, they even had a PBJ bar in the locker room, with four kinds of peanut butter, and eights kinds of jam. I mean, these guys live the life. It’s a grind, for sure…but there are a lot of perks.
Question: What was the primary difference in the course set-up to what an average golfer may play on any of our NW courses?
Colin: The course isn’t so hard you can’t play. But I just wasn’t good off the tee. You have to hit it good. And if you’re bad off the tee in a major, you’re done. You can’t play from the rough. The courses are so long, and the rough is thick. The par 3s are long…there was one at 180, but the rest were between 215-250. It’s tough when you hit it into the rough, because you now have a 200 yard shot left on a par 4, with a green that isn’t meant for a 200 yard shot, because they are small, and undulating, and shaved. It was tough. It was a good test of your complete game. You had to drive it straight, you had to hit a good approach shot…and you’re gonna miss at some point, and then you have to scramble.
Question: So, what was the primary difference you felt between the pros, and what you usually feel in a tournament?
Colin: On Wednesday I played a practice round…and didn’t hit very well, so I went to the range at around 5, and it was just me, and Justin Thomas. He’s ten feet from me…and Bones and his Dad are there, and he is hitting the ball so bad, that he looks like he is about to throw or break clubs. He’s hitting everywhere…left into the parking lot…all over. And there’s 200 people watching, so you have to keep it together. And I turned to Jon (SHCC member and caddy, Jon Haratyk), and said, “well, those who put money on JT this week aren’t looking so good!” But these guys are that good, that they can go from one little swing thought, to making a small change, and going from that, to winning the PGA Championship.
Question: So did it expose some areas that you want to continue to work on? Areas of improvement?
Colin: I need to get stronger. I mean, I don’t want to start thinking about chasing the PGA tour…but I don’t want to just go there and be one of the 20 club pros…it would be good to work toward qualifying in other events and then being able to make the cut. But to do that, I need to be able to hit the ball 20 or 30 yards further.
Because if you’re not playing good, the course will just make you look stupid. But a sports writer who is a scratch golfer, like a .3 or something played it a couple of weeks ago…and shot an 88.
Question: What other memories do you have of your experience. Did you change your practice routine while you were there?
Colin: For the tournament, I didn’t really change my routine. I got there about an hour early…but, you get a pass, and the police just wave you through, which is cool. But the practice rounds were interesting…there are no tee times. Because the whole course is closed, you just walk up and there’s a guy at the first tee, and he says, “there’s a couple in front of you” or, “you can take off now. Go ahead.” I played my first practice round with Mark Leishman… and then played another with another group of Australians. But, you might walk up to the first tee, and there’s Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood teeing off. Max Homa, who’d just won a couple of weeks before was teeing off. Pretty cool.
The crowd didn’t really bug me…I wasn’t like, nervous,
Question: How does your game match up with someone like Spieth, who isn’t a super long hitter off the tee.
Colin: He’s a lot longer than me. It really comes down to how fast the ball is coming off the club head…
My ball speed is between like, 155 and 160 mph. Spieth is mid-170s…Rory is closer to mid-180s. That’s about 2 yards per mph difference.
A brush with a typical tour gallery patron…
I was on the ninth, and hit it right, into the gallery. And so they move the ropes to give me room to swing, like they do, and some totally drunk guy about five feet away from me says, “Colin Inglis…never heard of that guy!”
Question: Any other memories that will stick with you?
Colin: Well…I saw Rory every day, just in a towel. Coming out of the shower…he was the only guy who took showers there!
You go into the locker room…and it’s a nice wooden room, with your name on the lockers…and Zach Johnson is like two lockers down from me. And you walk by DJ…and Tiger…I was walking out of the locker room, and had to wait for Tiger to walk in…he walked right by me. You’re there to play golf, but you are just kinda taking it all in.
Question: Next goals?
Colin: I can qualify for the US Open with a top two finish at Pronghorn, and I have an exemption into the final qualifying round to the British Open next year. Which would be in England…I just have to keep getting better.
One final memory stuck with him. As he was leaving the practice area, there were tons of kids seeking autographs from any tour pro there. As he reached the end of the ropes, there was a young girl in a wheelchair, unable to speak, due to her physical malady. She offered up a program to be signed, and when Colin signed it, she was visibly elated, clapping and bouncing with glee. Colin admitted to an almost instant knot in his throat…and a heavy dose of perspective.
So lucky, in so many ways…for his life, his family, and the support offered by friends and the Shadow Hills community.