When I was a kid, I liked to create myself on video games and live out my sports fantasies with hopes that one day they would become reality. They didn’t, obviously. Now I’m blogging and, well, still living out my sports fantasies through video games. Only now, my dreams don’t involve myself.
It’s Masters week, one of the best weeks of the year for my favorite sport. It’s one of the two things I think about when I hear the word, “golf.” The other thing I associate with golf is Rich Brooks, yes, the football coach. If you are confused by why I would associate Rich Brooks with golf then you either don’t have a Twitter or you, irresponsibly, don’t follow him.
For those unaware, Rich Brooks is a Twitter god, and a shining beacon of hope in the dark, murky, digital cesspool we call the internet. He uses twitter as an outlet to express how much he loves being retired. Scattered throughout copious amounts of golf tweets, he’ll share fishing stories, give status updates on his tomato plants, and chronicle he and his wife Karen’s, world travels. But! He mainly tweets about golf.
With the Masters a few days away, I just can’t imagine how much I would love Rich Brooks to play Augusta National and tweet about his experience. I love that thought so much, that I decided to relive my childhood, and simulate it. Yes, I created Rich Brooks on Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 and the end result was anything but disappointing. In fact, it was better than I could’ve ever dreamed.
My plan was to create Coach Brooks as accurately as I possibly could. I not only wanted the character to look like Coach but play like him to. I did an awful job as far as the looks go, because the dude I made looks zero percent like Rich Brooks. The best I could do was dress him in golf apparel that I’d imagine Brooks wears. I couldn’t decide if he might be a visor guy, so I played it safe and gave him a traditional baseball cap. All this customization proved to be useless, as a glitch in the game only allowed me to play with Coach Brooks in the default custom player attire.
The tricky part was figuring out the best way out accurately represent his playing ability. It became very obvious the game developers of Tiger Woods PGA Tour, were writing their code based on the skill levels of the best players in the world and not 65+ year old men. Even with Coach’s ratings turned down as low as possible, he still hit a driver farther than the average amateur golfer. So to make up for this inconsistency, I used no power boosts or spin during gameplay. Not perfect by any stretch, but it was as close as I could get.
I wanted Coach to take on Tiger but a 75 year-old has never played in the Masters, so I had to come up with an alternate competition. 75 year-olds don’t compete in the Masters but they do play in weekday evening men’s leagues all the time. Also, given the state of Tiger’s game, placing him in a men’s league match seemed appropriate. Besides, the idea of a men’s league match at Augusta National is way more interesting than the silly old Masters. The only thing missing from this match would be a golf cart freshly stocked with a six-pack of Mich-Ultra’s iced down in a plastic bag.
Since it’s a men’s league match, I had to figure out both Tiger and Coach Brooks’ handicaps. Tiger is a pro so technically he doesn’t have a handicap, but during his prime it was estimated to be around a +10. Which means in a stroke play match, he has to add 10 shots to his gross score. That’s bananas.
Coach’s handicap wasn’t hard to figure out either, because he posts all of his scores on Twitter. I took 15 or so of his scores from his home course, The Pete Dye at Hideaway Golf Club, and plugged them into an app that calculates handicaps. According to those scores, Coach sits at an -8.2 index, which is silly good for someone his age. So, for a normal stroke play match, whatever Coach shoots, you subtract 8.2 from his score.
Given these circumstances I actually expected Tiger to be no contest for Coach Brooks, knowing just how inaccurately the game simulated a “bad golfer.” I decided to give it a shot, anyway. With the guidelines set, the only thing left to do was play the match. Oh boy, the action that ensued was just electric. A mega-showdown between the God of Golf and God of Retirement.
I decided to play each Tiger and Coach Brooks’ rounds separately so I didn’t have to switch between the two drastic differences in skill level with every other shot. It allowed me to shoot the best possible round I could with each player. I played both rounds under Sunday conditions at the Masters, to add to the drama.
I played Tiger’s round first to set the stage for Coach Brooks to make some noise down the final stretch. Tiger’s round was fairly boring because he’s utterly perfect in the game and it’s nearly impossible to hit a bad shot with him. Tiger ended up carding a 9-under, 63. You know, (old, good) Tiger being (old, good) Tiger. Since Tiger’s handicap was set at +10, his net score ended up at 73. Since, Coach’s handicap was set at -8.2, he would need to card an 81 or better to slay the Tiger. What happened next was better than anything I could ever imagine.
There normally aren’t spectators for men’s league matches, but Coach was surrounded by a heck of a gallery for his first tee-shot. You’d expect an amateur like him to fold under the pressure and hit a bad tee shot. Nope. Let’s not forget Rich Brooks is a competitor. He embraced the simulated digital pressure, and piped one right down the middle with his fundamentally sound golf swing.
Driving and ball striking are actually really easy on this game regardless of player rating. I was able to zip around Augusta with Coach Brooks while hitting 12/14 fairways so being in good positions wasn’t a problem at all. In fact, after bogeying the first hole, I played the next three holes at 4-under with one hole out for eagle.
As easy as ball striking is on the game, putting is extremely difficult with a low rated player like Coach Brooks. Putting seems to be the aspect of the game that simulates the amateur game most accurately. Almost all of the shots I gave away with Coach were from putting. Brooks’ ended up with 38-putts, while having two holes where I didn’t putt with him at all. I recorded a six-putt and a four-putt during the round. Putting was so hard with Coach, that I missed multiple “gimmes.” It was painfully bad.
I mean, really bad…
There is a caddie feature on the game, that gives you advice on what shot to hit. I learned to hate the generic caddie a lot because his only advice ever is to lay up. It recommend a lay-up shot on four of the par fours. So yeah, the caddie is a coward and Rich Brooks is not, so I never took the caddie’s advice and went for broke on every hole. This ended up in finding the sand. A lot.
Beautiful ball striking, putting woes, and bunker trouble continued the entire round. Finally, I got to the 18th tee with Brooks 10-over par which means a birdie to win the match. Number 18 at Augusta is a very difficult hole, so making 3 was no easy task. Magic ensued. Like he had all day, Coach ripped one right down the middle.
Coach’s limited length left a 220 yard approach. Mr. CaddieMcCowardface recommended a lay-up, of course. No way, this hole was to beat Tiger Woods in the men’s league. 3-wood was the only play, and it had to be good. Spoiler: it was.
The easy part was over. Putting had been the Achilles heel all round, so the 6 foot putt that remained may as well had been 50′. I got the read, gave it a wack, and hoped. The tension built so greatly, as the ball took its break, that any sudden movement would’ve created a tear in space and time. Then…
It was now official.
The magic 81 had been achieved. That’s 18 shots worse than Tiger’s round, but this is the men’s league where you can lose by .2 shots. I promise I made none of this up, I was actually shocked everything worked out so perfectly. While I’d never be able to re-create what Rich Brooks would tweet after a triumph like this, I gave it my best shot because I just had to.
Consider this post as not only a celebration of the Masters but also as a celebration of spring. Writing this post provided me with warmth after such a cold, brutal ending to basketball season, kind of like the way spring is there to lift our spirits after a long winter. So, welcome spring, you’ve finally made it back to us. Happy Master’s week, y’all.