Having been in the golf business my whole life, I have had the opportunity to meet some very interesting and successful people. Many of the people that you meet, as you live this thing we call life, touch you in different ways. One of the people that I was fortunate to have spent some time with is John Brodie. John is one of those guys who seems larger than life.
I met John back in 1988, when I was working as an assistant golf professional at La Quinta Country Club. He is a member there and he was playing out on the Senior Tour at that time. John was a guy who was good at everything he did. He was a great tennis player, he was an All-American football player at Stanford, an MVP NFL quarterback for the 49ers, an outstanding card player and a professional golfer.
John Brodie would walk into a room and it would be like Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin had just walked in. He was the life of the party.
Back in 88′ and 89′ John was out playing competitive golf. I remember thinking to myself that I hardly ever saw him practice. That all changed for some reason in the fall of 1990. John got serious about his golf game and changed his pattern. He was on a mission and he started practicing.
I rarely saw John at the course before 8:30 or 9:00 a.m., but all of the sudden he was showing up at 6:30. There was this little pitching green on the side of the range, elevated and surrounded by bunkers. It was about a 50 yard shot from where he would set up camp for the next year or so. John fell into a routine of hitting thousands of these 50 to 70 yard shots all day, every day. When he wasn’t hitting these shots, he was on the putting green for hours and hours.
I re-gripped his clubs just about every month during the course of the next year. I remember asking him once what he was getting ready for. He said, “kid, I am going to win. The way that I am going to win is by learning to hit that little shot better than anybody else. I am going to be able to get it up and down from 50 yards every time and I will win.”
It all came together for John Brodie in the fall of 1992 at Rancho Park in Los Angeles. John scored his first and only Senior PGA Tour win at the Pacific Golf Classic. I guess he wanted to prove to himself that he could win and knew how to accomplish that goal, because I remember thinking to myself after that tournament that I hardly ever saw him practice again.
While watching Monday Night Football on October 23, 2000, Brodie suffered a massive stroke leaving him with a lengthy and difficult rehabilitation process that a lesser man might not have come back from. However, with the same spirit that led him to persevere throughout his athletic career and with the support of his family, John has maintained that will to win.
If you watch the great players on the Tour today, they all hit it about the same. The difference each week seems to revolve around who is playing the best from 100 yards and in. I think John knew that and I think the players who are winning today know that.
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