On the pavement, we can be equal to PGA TOUR players

Courtesy of Cadillac
Larry Dorman has some lead-foot experience from his decades on the road.
March 07, 2012
Larry Dorman, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

Editor's note: Veteran golf journalist Larry Dorman is PGATOUR.COM's newest freelance columnist. Dorman has covered golf for The New York Times and several other newspapers, and is a former president of the Golf Writers Association of America.

DORAL, Fla. -- Because my job for the past 35 or so years has allowed me to spend a lot of time hanging around the best golfers in the world -- many of whom also are world-class athletes -- I learned a very long time ago that there are very few things they don't do better than you or I do.

For more Larry Dorman, visit his archive page.

They will beat you at anything requiring eye-hand coordination. Ping-pong, pool, a game of H-o-r-s-e, tennis, darts, kicking a soccer ball, Foosball, Nintendo, or John Madden NFL.

As for trying to play golf with them? All you country club single-digit and plus-two handicappers out there who think you might be able to hang inside the ropes with -- let's say -- Chad Campbell or Zach Johnson or Keegan Bradley or Ben Crane or any other PGA TOUR player -- here's a tip: You'd need at least four a side and you'd be lucky to break 80 on a golf course set up for a tournament. Maybe you could try a match race with Usain Bolt.

I'd about given up any thought of competing in anything but a writing contest with a TOUR player. Then came a sponsor's invite from Cadillac to compete in a drag race on Tuesday at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at Doral. A drag race? In one of their new 556-horsepower, zero-to-60 in 3.8 seconds 2012 Cadillac V-Series rides?

I was all-in for that, joining a few golf writers and TV and radio guys against a field that included the freshly-minted World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship winner Hunter Mahan; three-time TOUR winner (and reigning Ping-pong champ) Matt Kuchar; 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen; Spanish star Alvaro Quiros; budding Korean star Sang-Moon Bae; the big Swede, Peter Hansen; and the promising young player Branden Grace, a two-time winner on the European Tour this year.

Of course, I'd never driven a car with 556 horses under the hood. There was a time way back when I did get ticketed twice for speeding on the same Miami road within an hour by the same motorcycle cop. But that was for 50 mph in a 40-mph zone driving a slant-6-cylinder '65 Plymouth with three-on-the-column.

For tips on what it takes to drive a race car, there was, fortunately, veteran driver Andy Pilgrim of the Cadillac Racing Team.

"Physically," said Pilgrim, who has won 61 races and five championships in his career, "you have to be in good shape."

Uh, oh. Good shape? Been avoiding the gym for the last few weeks. Had this touch of pneumonia, you know, dropped eight pounds.

"Not for these cars," he said, indicating the sleek fleet of stock V-Series models. Oh, yeah. Phew..

Pilgrim was talking about GT cars, which he said, heat up to 140 degrees inside while the driver is wearing three layers of underwear.

Kuchar wins Cadillac V-Series Charity Challenge

Amanda Balionis and Matt Kuchar put the 556-horsepower Cadillac V-Series sedans and coupes to the test for charity at the Countyline raceway near Doral Resort & Spa as part of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.

"And you're working," he said. "People don't realize the physical strength. We need 2-and-a-half Gs in braking."

That kind of racing we'll leave to the professionals. But just before I got into the car to go head-to-head with Australian journalist and author Robert Lusetich, there was this little gem from Pilgrim.

"Don't mash the accelerator at the start," he said. "Just a smooth, steady pressure. And when it's time to brake, mash it. If you feel it trying to push back, keep pushing it harder."

Armed with that, let's cut to the chase. After a cautious run through a series of cones, it was time for the drag race. Old school, street style, just a drop of the hands by the starter and straight down the 1/8th-mile course with the accelerator floored. And a memory of someone saying a good way to avoid choking is to hum or sing something in your head.

What came to mind was a little Beach Boys tune, "The street was deserted late Friday night, we were tugging each other while we sat out the light..." Wait a minute, that's "Dead Man's Curve," which, as you may know, is no place to play, best keep away, but, too late.

The deep-rumbling roar of the engine at the start of a drag race is something everyone should experience. That and the thrill of hitting 80 mph in 1/8th of a mile and then trying to brake the car and keep it in a box. I was feeling pretty good about myself, having shown Lusetich nothing but tail lights in three trips down the track, scoring 64 total points.

Did I beat any PGA TOUR players? A couple, but for the most part, they dominated. Kuchar, naturally, won his division with 70 points and a big check for the Boys and Girls Clubs. Quiros also scored 70 points and benefited the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Wyand Stander scored 70 to lead the Miami Children's Hospital Division.

And for the First Tee? The winner was a journalist at PGATOUR.COM. Not this writer, though. Amanda Balionis, a reporter for PGA TOUR Entertainment, edged me by a point.