By Matt Hombach
|Scott Garceau test-drives the Ping Hybrid. (Matt Hombach)|
What many sports fans don't realize is Garceau is a passionate golfer who can flirt with a round in the 70s from time to time.
Garceau grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and played three sports in high school. Golf wasn't hugely popular with UPers in the 1960s, so a young Garceau focused his athletic talents on the more traditional pursuits of baseball, basketball and football.
His introduction to golf came at age 26, when he got one of his first jobs as a television broadcaster in New Mexico. Colleagues at the station got him into the game at a local country club, and he quickly caught the bug.
"I fell in love with the game pretty quickly," said Garceau on a recent afternoon at the Pine Ridge Driving Range, where he tested one of the new Ping Rapture Hybrid clubs. "I pretty much learned the game on my own, but I did have a good friend who was a 5 or 6 handicap and really taught me a lot about golf."
Garceau plays to a 13 handicap and usually tees it up twice a week. Summer is prime time for Garceau to feed his appetite for golf, and he often tees it up on some of the best courses in Maryland.
"We have a place down in Ocean City and spend a lot of time there during the spring and summer months," he said. "I have a regular game with about eight other guys on Saturday and Sunday mornings that's a lot of fun. We usually play at Lighthouse Sound, which is just a beautiful place."
Closer to Baltimore, Garceau regularly tests his game at Hillendale Country Club and Greystone Golf Course. He also enjoys an occasional round with some of Baltimore's sports legends, who share his passion for the game.
"I play with Tom Matte on a regular basis and every once in a while I get together with (Jim) Palmer or Brooks (Robinson), which is pretty neat," said Garceau.
Other notable sports figures Garceau has shared the tee box with include John Daly, Alex Rodriguez and Dan Marino.
While Garceau's game peaks in the summer, he is forced to pull back come fall. Garceau's day job cuts down on his golf time as his weekends, and that of sports fans throughout Maryland, focus on the purple and black instead of the green.
While Garceau wouldn't make a firm prediction for the upcoming Ravens season, he has a feeling it could be a special year.
"It's hard to pick an exact number because there are so many unknowns throughout the season, like injuries, but I would think they could win 11 or 12 games this year if they stay healthy," he said.
Ping Test Drive
Just as Garceau has stayed loyal to Baltimore throughout his broadcasting career, he displays similar loyalty to his clubs.
"I really tend to stick by my equipment," he said. "I probably had my last set of irons for 10 or 12 years, and my current set has been in the bag for five years or so."
Most of Garceau's clubs are made by Ping, so Mike Dreyer, assistant professional at Pine Ridge and certified Ping club fitter, offered Scott a new Ping Rapture V2 Hybrid to test drive and compare to his current 5-wood, which Garceau describes as one of the favorite clubs in his bag.
"These hybrids produce a higher trajectory shot because they have a higher center of gravity that makes them easier to hit," said Dreyer. "These clubs are great for golfers to hit out of the rough."
Dreyer guessed Garceau's swing speed to be about 90-100, so he set him up with a regular shafted club with 23 degrees of loft. The retail price of the Ping Rapture V2 is $159.
Tips for hitting hybrid clubs include positioning the ball between the middle of your stance and your front foot and swinging with a slight sweeping motion, Dreyer said.
After getting loose, Garceau hit a few with the Rapture V2 and was immediately impressed with how easy it was to get the ball in the air.
"My first impression is that it's pretty forgiving and I am hitting more accurate shots with the hybrid than I do with my normal 5-wood," said Garceau. "The distance is about the same though."
While Garceau seemed to be remaining faithful to his trusty 5-wood even after roping several shots in a row at the target green, he hinted he might be able to find a spot for the Rapture in his bag.
"It would probably be better than my 5-wood out of the rough," he said. "It might be nice to have to hit on long par-3s, too."
Issue 152: August 2010