PRO-AMS ARE odd spectacles. They're kind of like a safari park: You see a lot of strange critters up close performing jaw-dropping and sometimes hilarious stunts. Last week's Wednesday Gong Show at Warwick Hills was no exception. The headline group featured none other than Big John Daly, but the Mentos in the Coke bottle was Kid Rock (below), and it didn't take a lot of shaking to get things to explode. Kid or, um, Mr. Rock showed up in denim overalls, a T-shirt and a straw fedora. The T was off by the 5th hole. After that the Incredible Bulk (Daly) and the Trailer Park Trash King (Rock) entertained the fans while swilling brews to stay hydrated. Big John even hit a tee shot off a beer can, which is the Tour equivalent of using the guest towels to wash the car. The Tour official who came out to see Daly afterward gently reminded JD that the Tour prefers a little more professionalism in its pro-am.
SOME PLAYERS hate the pro-am. Sam Snead was heard to ask on numerous occasions, "Does Johnny Unitas (left) have to go out on Saturday and throw passes to a bunch of fat rich guys?" But pro-ams raise a ton of money for charity. The top 52 from the previous year's money list who are in the field are required to play, and there are always one or two sourpusses in that group. Fortunately the other 50 get it and bend over backward to make their partners feel like a million bucks.
IF YOU'RE ever lucky enough to play in a pro-am, here are a few tips. 1) Go on GOLF.com and look up the pro you're playing with. If he's having a great year, congratulate him. If he's not, leave it alone. (Remember, he's there based on last year's performance.) 2) Pick up when you're out of the hole. Pro-am rounds can be root canal if everyone insists on playing out every triple bogey when someone has already made birdie. 3) If you ask the pro to help read your putts, don't dispute his line afterward. He doesn't know how hard you're going to hit it. If his caddie helps you with yardages and putts, slip him a tip. Fifty bucks a man is nice. And for God's sake, have fun. It's golf.
Jim McGovern ran Buick's golf program from 1998 to 2005 and now consults for title sponsors of PGA Tour events.