KLEE: Get ready - and your putter ready - for the Solheim Cup

Staff reports Published: June 17, 2013 | 8:40 pm 0

PARKER - Not until Monday had I ever met a prophet in a white jumpsuit.

Then I met Chunk.

It's too simple, almost blasphemous, to call Chunk a golf caddy. By trade, that's what he is, but that's like calling the apostle Peter a fisherman.

Chunk is a prophet in a white jumpsuit. On this golf course - Colorado Golf Club, the spectacular, 7,604-yard layout that winds through a country landscape God-made for golf - Chunk is always right.

Where's this putt going, Chunk? Right edge? Done.

Chunk knows Colorado Golf Club. He's caddied there, seven days a week, since it was named the nation's top new private course in 2007. So here's what we should know about the 13th Solheim Cup, which comes to our state Aug. 13-18.

"It's all about the greens. It's all about how well you're putting the ball," Chunk said. "(It has) big fairways and the greens aren't hard to hit. But you've gotta putt to score."

The Solheim Cup is the women's version of the Ryder Cup - the finest players from the U.S. and Europe matched for braggin' rights and a sweet trophy.

And it will be, more or less, a putting contest. But in general isn't that what professional golf has become?

The pros all bomb it off the tee. And wait until you see Brittany Lincicome bomb it off the tee. A likely member of the U.S. side, Lincicome goes by the nickname "Bam-Bam."

"400 yards," she said, slightly joking, of her driving distance at Colorado's altitude.

What separates the great ones from the really, really good ones is the putter.

That, according to Chunk, is also what will separate the Americans and the Europeans, the defending champions, in the Solheim Cup.

"The green complexes here are very difficult," U.S. captain Meg Mallon told me in the clubhouse at Colorado Golf Club on Monday. "Difficult to read, difficult to putt."

Just like you and I, Mallon watched last weekend's U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club. She saw how a golf course with teeth can munch the world's best players like a turkey sandwich.

"My brother said, 'I feel like I'm watching myself play golf,'" Mallon said.

The average score at Merion, a par-70 for the Open: 74.55. Only one player - Justin Rose, the champ - finished at even par after 72 holes.

Did the USGA make the golf course too difficult?

"I didn't think so. I knew that whoever won, he played the best golf that day," Mallon said. "If you don't have your game that day, you're going to look foolish."

You won't see Colorado Golf Club feast on the players in the Solheim Cup. The fairways are wider than I-25 and there isn't rain-forest rough like Merion.

But the greens. Goodness, the greens. They were clearly and deviously co-designed by Ben Crenshaw, who must have assumed we can all putt like him.

"You better have your nerves in check," Mallon said.

As I watched the Open and then played Colorado Golf Club, it brought me to a question I've always wondered:

As golf courses continue to grow in length, is it because the pros are getting better or the technology is getting better?

"It's totally the equipment," said Mallon, who won 18 LPGA tournaments and four majors. "If you take a player today and put a set of 1970 golf clubs in their hands, they wouldn't be able to keep it on the golf course as hard as they swing it.

"It's a completely different game now."

Mallon and Stacy Lewis and Bam-Bam don't need golf tips from the rest of us. They will graciously and proudly represent the U.S. on Colorado's soil in the Solheim Cup.

"I can't wait to get my nails done in the red, white and blue," Lincicome said.

Here's one golf tip, anyway:

Bring Chunk.

On a course where the greens are the thing, having a prophet in a white jumpsuit can't hurt.

-

Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

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