Among sports journalists, analysts, and pundits the most overused term today is a guy’s sport’s IQ. It refers to a player’s innate ability to make the right decision time-after-time in the heat of action. The guy with a high sports IQ sees the game circumstance developing in front of him in slow motion and somehow synthesizes the information intuitively to make the right athletic move leading to a score.
This is often used to explain why certain players, like Manu Ginobili in the NBA or Drew Brees in the NFL, without the obvious physical gifts of other superstars seem to consistently make critical plays that help their teams win championships.
In golf we have examples of high sports IQs in overachievers like Zach Johnson, Jim Furyk, and young Jordan Spieth. These guys play the game with an in-game intellect that helps them perform at a level we would never expect looking at their physical size or the purity of their golf swing.
But the nature of the game we love, the inherent richness of it’s historical lore, the cerebral aspect to the creation of it’s playing fields, and slower pace of play which encourages comaraderie and social interaction of it’s participants provide a unique opportunity to develop a Golf IQ. High Golf IQ requires a perceptive individual to collect, ponder, and catalog a cache of golf knowledge and experience. Time then intercedes to allow them to develop the proper humility and an articulate voice to share it with others.
Geoff Ogilvy has a Golf IQ much higher than the average bearEmbed from Getty Images
Geoff Ogilvy, born in Australia, learned his love for the game playing the bouncy fairways and slick putting surfaces on classic Sandbelt courses like Metropolitan, Kingston Heath, and Royal Melbourne. He has won a U.S. Open, three World Golf Championships, and another nine professional tournaments over his 16-year folf career. As good as Geoff is to watch plying his trade with a 3-iron he is actually much more interesting to experience with microphone in his hand or keyboard in front of him.
He categorizes himself as a History Guy “always talking about old players, old courses, the history of majors….knows not only about architects, but when and where they were born”.
Seve Ballesteros had “the right look over the ball…when he settled in and waggled that immediately conveyed perfection to the human eye….but if you examined Seve for too long all kinds of unconventional things would emerge and the perfection would go away”.
Seve’s lyric style of playing golf shots often did not abide convention
Good golf is not meant to be played on long and narrow fairways or lush, perfectly manicured greens. “The best courses (like The Old Course, Royal Melbourne, and Cypress Point) are playable for golfers of all standards. There’s width to the fairways…..the real challenges are around the greens”. For good golf, courses should have large greens “incorporating interesting undulations….nothing too silly though…they will be firm…..golf is infinitely more interesting when the ball bounces and rolls after it lands on the ground”.
Royal Melbourne has width off the tee and challenge around the greensEmbed from Getty Images
Short courses: His experience playing the 12-hole par 3 course at Turnberry with his buddies the week before the Open Championship reminded him how much fun the game can be. “Golf needs more pitch-and-putt courses….they require a wedge and a putter, it’s free, and you can play in jeans and a T-shirt….they are magnets for interest.”
On how the American game has been hijacked by scoring with an obsession of medal over match play “In my experience everyone is much happier when they play match play…..stroke play is a necessary evil for professionals, but for amateurs it should be the exception not the rule. Adding up scores isn’t often fun”.
The unique character of the Old Course casts long shadows over all others
His perfect course “a welcoming and friendly environment……no cart girls….a halfway house where sausage sandwiches will be available…a small range where you can hit a few 5-irons before you wander to the 1st tee carrying your own bag. At the end of the round you will be able to get your own car…..and walk around with your dog on a leash if you wish….no wasted manpower, no wasted energy, and no wasted money”.
I share with you links to three samples of his golf voice that support the notion that Geoff may just be the most interesting man in the world…… when it comes to golf.
If you have the time pick Episode 25 to download a wonderful 80-minute long conversation with Geoff Ogilvy. This is “The Golf World According Geoff Ogilvy” providing his unique perspective about preparing for the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield, what interests him in golf, and so much more.