Roddy Carr Previews the 2024 PGA Championship

Roddy Carr Previews the 2024 PGA Championship

Share this:

The names of the holes on Valhalla this week give some insight into the DNA and personality of the course designed by Jack Nicklaus in 1986.

The 3rd ‘Honest Abe’, 7th ‘Genuine Risk’, 8th ‘Float Like a Butterfly,’ 12th ‘Sting Like a Bee’ 14th ‘On The Rocks’ and 18th ‘Photo Finish’.  The last two winners on Valhalla also speak volumes to the quality of the test it presents. Tiger Woods in 2000 and Rory McIlroy in 2014.

The two PGA Championship wins by Rory McIlroy, will always stick in my mind. Especially his first emphatic victory at Kiawah Island by eight shots. I remember vividly watching that beautiful wide, long, free flowing swing off the tee. His confident cut off punched irons and delicate soft hand touch bunker shots.  It was a sight to behold.

It was his swing that got me. I went to the phone immediately after he’d won and called Dr. Golf himself, John Jacobs.

Roddy Carr and John Jacobs
Roddy Carr and John Jacobs celebrating John's 90th birthday in 2015.

John was a great, lifelong friend and coach of the Carr family who used to stay in our house ‘Suncroft’ in Sutton and teach us. He had the courage to tell my father after he had won the British Amateur in 1953, “Joe, if you want to win many more of these over the next 25 years, we will have to change your swing”. He was right. 40,000 shots later my father’s swing had changed. From a fast whiplash motion to a long, fluid rhythmic swing. This swing lasted for over 30 years, winning 40 championships. John was also my coach during the Walker Cup and just kept telling me to simply “turn and keep your rhythm Roddy”.

I remember the phone call. “Jake, (as we called him) its Roddy, I had to call you after watching Rory; is his swing the swing you were trying to teach me for all those years?” he replied, “Yes Roddy it is. It’s the most beautiful golf swing I have ever seen and is close to perfect”.

Several years later in the twilight of John’s life I had the great pleasure of taking the unassuming and gracious Michael Bannon, Rory’s lifetime coach, down to meet John at his beautiful Stable Cottage in the South of England. At the end of their four-hour session, Michael produced a copy of John’s famous book Dr. Golf, for him to sign. It was worn out from reading it, like an old bible.

Doctor Golf Book John Jacobs
Golf Doctor by John Jacobs

I came back from Augusta this year having had a similar experience after watching the swing and demeanour of Ludvik Aberg. His swing represents this new era of technology in the game. Combined with the fact that today’s golfers are now well-toned, stronger and fitter athletes. The combination of Aberg’s compactness and power, with his ‘pull the trigger’ routine, reminds me of a formula one car in action. What was also most impressive was how much he enjoyed being in contention in his first ever major. Even after ‘Amen Corner’ had taken a chunk out of him on the 11th hole, he still managed to smile and wave to the multitudes watching at that fearsome corner of Augusta. He was having such a good time, smiling and sharing his joy with the patrons. Even though he didn’t win, Aberg will have learned from his experience at the Masters. He ‘opened the door’ for Scottie and you don’t do that with the form he’s in.

He reminded me of the younger curly haired boy from Hollywood, Co. Down. Bouncing around with a spring in his step that had such a youthful energy and confidence when winning his two PGA championships. It was interesting to hear Shane Lowry comment last week after his great win with Rory at the Zurich Classic. The pair chatted afterwards and realized that relaxing and having fun on the course together had made all the difference. “We are too hard on ourselves and need to relax and enjoy it more”. Sound words, which I believe will pay dividends for next week, and in the other Majors to come this year.

It is great to see the game of golf come together at the Majors, even though it is only for the week. There is still that ‘them & us’ in the air, mostly communicated through the fan’s reaction to the various players, and on by whom the players choose to play their practice rounds with.

Koepka more than anyone represents the attitude of the LIV players. His own ‘chip on the shoulder’ attitude drives him, and it has delivered for him in spades with four majors. He’s coming off a win on LIV and loves the PGA.

Rahm is more of a traditionalist and historian of the game at heart. He may be struggling with his decision to join LIV and the lack of consistent competition on which he thrives.

They all know that the man to beat is Scheffler. Who has had an extraordinary run of form. His dancing feet action is fascinating to watch, especially when you compare him to other past greats of the game. He’s one of a kind and was lucky to have a coach that allowed him the freedom to play so naturally which has enabled him to mine his talents.

There was no running, shouting or beer guzzling antics at Augusta…it will be interesting to see if the new party trend penetrates into a Major in Louisville, Kentucky…hope not.

Share this: