Live golf has been back for a few weeks now, and we’re all quite thankful for it.
It has been weird not hearing people go nuts on a hole-out, or ‘oh’ when a player lips out a putt, but live golf is better than no golf.
Not to mention the golf has been quite phenomenal – low scores, intense rounds and so many bombs.
There has been very little rustiness from the golfers, including the St. Simons pros. One of the guys finding success since golf returned is, Michael Thompson.
When everything got shut down, he held the lead at the Players Championship. However, that break came at the right time as he, his wife and young son traveled to Kansas to welcome a little girl Laurel on March 19, who they adopted.
They stayed there for 27 days before coming back home, but Thompson said he went about six weeks without picking up a club.
Once they got the baby settled in and into their new routine, Thompson got back on the course, played some money games with some of the other pros on the island and got back to work.
“I saw my coaches probably once a week up until about four weeks from Hilton Head and just got back to the grind,” Thompson said. “I think because I left in a good place, I was playing well at the players that allowed me to maintain a positive mindset about my game, my swing and ball striking and allowed me to prepare in the way that I needed to to get ready for Hilton Head.”
He made his post-COVID-19 shutdown debut at The RBC Heritage in Hilton Head. Despite the long break, his game looked as sharp as it did at TPC Sawgrass.
Thompson finished 17-under and tied for eighth at RBC Heritage – his first top-10 finish of the season.
“I pretty much had everything working the way I wanted to I was driving the ball well my play was phenomenal and gave myself so many chances inside 15 feet for birdie, and I only made three bogeys all week,” Thompson said. “I needed to make more birdies, but if I had made five more putts, I would have been in a playoff.
“So when you have a week like that, where all it comes down to is just a couple more putts made, it’s a good feeling because you feel like you’re on the right track and you’re playing well, and you’re firing on all cylinders.”
Thompson started strong this week at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut, beginning with a 64 on Thursday. As the week progressed, he played well but had some costly bogeys throughout the second and third rounds. He finished the tournament strong with a 68, which helped him take home a top 50 finish.
Thompson is one of 14 touring pros that train out of Sea Island on St. Simons. Since his time at Alabama and playing the SEC Championship on Seaside, he has been exposed to Sea Island.
“That was my first introduction to the island and just fell in love with it right from the get-go,” Thompson said. “I had no idea that place even existed being raised on the west coast. I had no idea Georgia even had a coastline.”
After graduating from Alabama, he and his wife decided to move from Birmingham, Ala., so he could continue improving his game.
They chose between Phoenix, Az., Dallas, Jupiter, Fla., and St. Simons. He said living in Florida didn’t appeal to him. It was too hot in Phoenix, and with Dallas’ unpredictable weather, St. Simons the logical choice.
Not to mention the impressive atmosphere that Davis Love III and Sea Island have put together for these professional golfers.
“The golf club there, he’s created an environment that caters to professional golfers and caters to what we need,” Thompson said. “When we go to the golf course, we’re not always going there to enjoy ourselves or get out of the house. We’re going there to work. So we need a certain atmosphere to get good quality work done. He laid the groundwork for that and established a place where players can feel comfortable, with well-maintained turf, good range balls, high-quality golf courses – competitive golf courses.”
With the newly revised golf schedule, The Masters will be the week before The RSM Classic.
Since so many tournaments got canceled, the playing field could look quite different – bringing in popular names.
Thompson said his initial reaction would be that most of the big players will call it quits after Augusta.
“At the same time, because Sea Island is so close in proximity, it might be an easy trip for guys to come on down,” Thompson said. “The great thing about the RSM Classic is that it’s such a laid back tournament that’s played on a terrific golf course. That time of year, the weather could do anything. It could be hot. It could be perfect. It could be cold and rainy – you just never know.
“I think it provides a unique test of golf. To me, because of the atmosphere, how laid back it is and casual and fun, I think it’s a great way to end the year to finish with that event. So you know, I sure hope that a lot of guys come to play just because it’s a lot of fun and I think the guys Davis and the guys do a great job putting that tournament on, so we will have to see.”
The RSM Classic is 139 days away, and while there is a lot of golf to play, it’ll be something to keep an eye on.