The range. Tour pros call it the Rockpile because it's where they pound rocks. A more accurate sobriquet would be a word that encompasses psychiatrist's office, social club, swing-fix center, comedy club and convention hall.
Indeed, the range is much more than a grassy plain on which golf professionals hit golf balls. It's also a good place to find golf insiders, agents, swing gurus, golf industry executives and media types, to name a few.
Consider the scene last Thursday afternoon as the first round of the 77th PGA Championship was unfolding at Riviera Country Club. There was swing guru Mac O'Grady giving Chip Beck a diatribe about club-face angles and swing planes. There was Mike (Fluff) Cowan, Peter Jacobsen's caddie, commiserating over the death of the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia. There was Scott Simpson hitting balls side by side with his eight-year-old son, Sean. And there was Greg Norman winning a wager with his caddie, Tony Navarro, that he could blast a two-iron over the 40-foot-high net some 240 yards away.
That all happened within a few minutes. Activity on the range, however, began hours earlier at 5:51 a.m. when club professional Bob Lendzion arrived. The action didn't stop until 7:14 p.m. when fellow club pro Bob Makoski slumped off toward the clubhouse. Makoski was peeved because he had hit it great on the range before and after a disappointing 74. "I guess I'm just a driving range pro," he said.
The Rockpile opened for business when Lendzlon swung into action at dawn.
(Clockwise from left): Per-Ulrik Johansson focused on his long game; Mac O'Grady made some points with Chip Beck; Jay Haas got in some work on an oft-overlooked area of the game; and a Bear loosened up before looking to stretch his remarkable record in major championships.
For a self-proclaimed driving range pro like Makoski, life can get awfully lonely.