Louisville Magazine

AUG 2014

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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M any claims are foated, like errant pitch shots, about golf 's deeper meanings. But one that seems to be on target makes the case that advancing a tiny white ball huge distances toward the horizon in the quest to nestle it into a tiny hole is the ultimate head game. At least that's what the often- tortured souls who play the game think. Even if you're a non-golfer tuning in to the Aug. 7-10 major tournament at eastern Jeferson County's Valhalla Golf Club, you will better appreciate the action if you identify a player or two to follow and play the mind game along with them. Tese guys — all 156 in the feld — make up the cream of the professional crop and all have shown the talent to be winners at the game's highest levels. Each will carry a unique backstory, like a second set of clubs, into the contest for the 96th PGA Championship. Why not, I thought, choose J.B. Holmes? A native of Campbellsville, Kentucky, about 80 miles south of Louisville, he is certainly a dramatic player, though at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, he is not physically imposing. Nonetheless, Holmes launches the ball with uncanny power using his driver and other long-hitting clubs. As of June 1 he ranked sixth (of 191 listed) on the 2014 PGA Tour in average driving distance at 305.4 yards per swipe. And he pounds it out there without appearing to tear out of his shoes or overextend at any point during his swing. He pretty much learned the game on his own, which to me is the hallmark of a Kentuckian: self-schooled and self-reliant. Tough he started playing with his father as a preschooler (his swing hasn't changed much since age four, his father has said), he didn't have a lesson until he was 12 or 13. While many on the tour have been groomed by swing coaches since childhood, Holmes employed one only after he left the University of Kentucky and joined the pro tour in 2006. Tat coach, Matt Killen, a Franklin, Kentucky, native who also tutors Kentucky touring pros Josh Teater, 35, and Kenny Perry, 53 (see sidebar, page PGA 6), has tweaked but not signifcantly altered the Holmes swing. "Te main source of his power is his sequencing," Killen said as we watched the golfer hit practice shots before the Memorial Tournament in late May in Dublin, Ohio. "He goes from the ground up to the hips and chest and arms to the club. It's like a whip cracking at the magical moment — not too early. Tat's the secret to his power." Or, as Holmes' mother Lisa has said, "John is what we call 'country strong.'" At age 32 he should be in the prime of his golfng career, where the strength, fexibility and confdence of youth is tempered, but not overwhelmed, by the battle scars of experience. When you boil down the PGA Tour — a weekly test of 100-plus professionals all seeking that single Sunday trophy — there really aren't many winners. It's hard to look at millionaires following summery weather around the globe and strolling on plush green grass as unfortunates, but there are many more instances of managing failure than success at each tournament. Everyone but the winner must make peace with their outcomes. It all came easy for Holmes during his frst year on the PGA Tour, 2006. He fnished 10th and high in the money in his frst start and a few weeks later won the FBR Open in Scottsdale, Arizona, by seven strokes, making him, at Return of the Native After surgical setbacks in 2011 and last year, Kentuckian J.B. Holmes is in fne form to conquer Valhalla Golf Club's challenging course during this month's talent-loaded PGA Championship. By Bruce Allar Photos by Chris Casella PGA

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