Robert Thompson on Golf
“This ball could go just about anywhere,” says PGA Tour pro
Charles Warren, investigating a hunk of mud resting on the back of
his ball in the middle of the fairway on the 18th hole of Hamilton
Golf and Country Club yesterday.
“Like into the crowd?” I ask, intrigued at the havoc a rocketing
ProV1 might create if it flies into the throng sitting in the
natural amphitheatre at the course’s final hole.
“That’s a possibility.”
“At least that will have some entertainment value,” I reply,
eliciting a chuckle and a nod in agreement from Warren’s longtime
Such is the nature of the traditional Wednesday pro-am, where some of the world’s best golfers tee it up with a bunch of hacks and
endure chunked shots, fat hits and skulled wedges for five hours.
Warren had the unfortunate luck of being the partner of three
amateurs, myself included, yesterday.
To many, Warren is “Charles Who?” Few knew who he was Tuesday
night, when some of Canada’s business elite paid thousands to play
golf with a PGA Tour pro for a day. Warren was the next-to-last
pick, long after the likes of Vijay Singh and Jim Furyk. But Warren
is far from a nobody. A former NCAA champion and the winner of the 2004 CPGA Championship, Warren won more than US$1-million in 2005, and is on a similar pace this year. And while he might have to battle Mike Weir for the title as top diminutive tour professional,
Warren hammers the ball, averaging around 300 yards off the tee.
The chatty son of a South Carolina attorney, it doesn’t take long
for Warren to gush about the golf course.
“I just asked Steve [Stricker] about [Hamilton] and how it compares
to Riviera and Westchester,” Warren says, referencing two of the
most heralded courses on the PGA Tour. “He told me there’s no
comparison between [this course] and those. This is a lot better. I
think he’s right.”
A discussion with Warren ranges wildly from golf to politics to
parenthood. Almost shockingly, it turns out the cliche isn’t true —
golf pros do have more interests than chasing a white ball or
Though he has played frequently in Canada over his career, Warren
is intrigued at the state of U.S.-Canada relations.
“What do y’all up here think about us?” he questions before we
enter into a two-hole discussion of U.S-Canada relations. Our
relationship with the Bush government has occasionally been
strained, I explain, and though Warren isn’t surprised, he says
there’s only one way U.S. professional golfers vote.
“I think it is 100% Republican,” he says decisively.
Strolling down the 18th hole, with the distinct possibility of
winning the morning pro-am with a team score of 58, Warren reflects on his place on the tour. Apparently the money, the cars and the prestige are not enough for the 31-year-old from South Carolina.
“I love golf and I love to play, but I also really, really love to
compete,” he explains as we stroll down the final hole. “I want to
There’s no such luck on this day. Our team ends tied with the low
score of the day, but some strange mathematical formula dictates
that we finish third. Even when the round only matters to a bunch of
weekend hacks, Warren is denied his shot at the top of the