Admittedly, the closest I’ve come to owning a BMW is my collection of Bob Marley and the Wailers albums. The band’s initials are the same as the auto brand’s, and that coincidence conveniently allowed Marley, who partly built his legend by denouncing Western materialism, to justify his ownership of a 1973 BMW Bavaria.
Bavaria descendants like the 640i will no doubt appear at the upcoming 2014 BMW Championship at Cherry Hills Country Club. More relevantly, so will the top 70 players in FedEx Cup points, many of whom hadn’t cut their milk teeth—much less been born—when Bob Marley died in 1981. Some of them hadn’t yet turned professional the last time the PGA Tour staged an event in Colorado.
That event, The International at Castle Pines, took place in 2006, a year before the first FedEx Cup playoff. Jimmy Walker, in the midst of a middling first full season on the Tour, missed the cut; Bubba Watson tied for sixth; and a European Tour rookie named Martin Kaymer didn’t get invited. Further perspective: Keegan Bradley was at St. John’s University; Rickie Fowler was about to begin his senior year at Murrieta Valley High; Rory McIlroy was a 15-year-old upper-schooler in Northern Ireland; and Jordan Spieth was in middle school in Dallas. Chris Kirk, Patrick Reed, Brendon Todd—all winners of tour events this year—were considering prom dates.
Golf may be the “game of a lifetime,” and experience counts when it comes to competing at the highest levels, but the professional game is getting younger by the week. Every event seems to have a winner I only vaguely know. If not for the caddie bibs and standard-bearers, I’m not sure many of us would recognize Brendon Todd from Kevin Streelman from Harris English. Meanwhile, the familiar favorites like Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods make headlines for injuries and non-golf reasons.
Phil and Tiger have helped sell tickets, but one may not be in attendance at Cherry Hills. However, I’m just as anxious to see young guns like Rory, Bubba, Rickie, Adam Scott, Jason Day and Justin Rose negotiate Cherry Hills’ tight terrain of risks and rewards. “There’ll be a lot of game-day decisions,” FedEx Cup points leader Jimmy Walker told former Cherry Hills Head PGA Professional Clayton Cole during a recent practice round.
Those decisions will involve whether to go for the green on Nos. 1 and 3, how to attack par on the 552-yard 5th and 520-yard 14th (both par 4s), what to do about those two sets of nasty cross bunkers and the island green on No. 17 and how to avoid the ubiquitous trouble on one of the most challenging 18th holes in golf.
For fans, the decisions will revolve around which up-and-coming player to follow or which holes to watch (Tip: Try the par-3 15th, since any hole-in-one results in an Evans scholarship; Hunter Mahan’s ace in last year’s BMW sent CommonGround caddie Melyzjah Smith to CU). Each day will involve groups starting on holes 1 and 10, so factor that into your spectating strategy. However you choose, to quote Bob Marley, “get up, stand up” and go to the BMW Championship.
Colorado AvidGolfer is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via www.coloradoavidgolfer.com. Jon Rizzi is the founding editor and co-owner of this regional golf-related media company producing magazines, web content, tournaments, events and the Golf Passport.