"To Go or Not To Go, that is the Question"
By klangdon on 8/11/06
By Matt Bills

A man much wiser than I once posed a similar question, and my head still hurts every time I try to come up with the answer. Since I am more of a simpleton, I will ponder a less stressful question. With the 2006 PGA Championship at Medinah Country Club approaching this weekend a new question seems relevant: Is it worth it to go to a golf event in person, or is it better on tv?

Last year at this time I was pumped for Baltustrol- so pumped I'm not sure I even went to work that week.
Last year at this time I was pumped for Baltustrol- so pumped I'm not sure I even went to work that week. I had purchased my tickets, I had my travel plans arranged and I was on my way to the final major of the year. So what does it take to get to a PGA Major? It's not quite as simple as packing a bag for the day and deciding to head out.

The planning for the 2005 87th PGA started well before December of 2004 because that's when the tickets went on sale. With the tickets purchased all I could do was wait and wait and wait. It's like purchasing a Christmas present in January and having to wait the whole year to open it. Finally August came, and the dreamed about day could be lived out.

The plan to get there was simple. A two-hour car ride into New Jersey and then a 45-minute train ride on NJTransit to get to the course. The plan sounds foolproof, until you pull into the parking lot and realize the train you need to be on is leaving the station. So now what do you do? You sit at a dingy grimy NJ train station for an hour waiting for the next train.

The train finally arrives and the scenic train ride begins as we go through the rolling hills of NJ. Wait just kidding there aren't rolling hills in NJ. We actually passed a few nuclear facilities and some dump sights. From the train station we boarded school buses where there was no air conditioning. It was ok though, because they provided complimentary cardboard fans. I guess they missed the lesson in middle school where waiving the fan exerts more energy and makes you hotter than if you just sat there in a pool of your own sweat. Once we arrived at Baltustrol my wait was finally over! I could finally watch John Daly swing his guts out- he was the first guy out.

I guess they missed the lesson in middle school where waiving the fan exerts more energy and makes you hotter than if you just sat there in a pool of your own sweat.
Wrong! I had to wait in line for another hour just to enter the grounds. The best part about waiting in line besides the heat, besides standing in the middle of the street as cars tried to pass, was watching security guards frisk the most innocent of fans. It never seems to amaze me how silly people can be. They tell you before you even show up: No cell phone, No cameras. Yet people continuously attempted to smuggle them in. So I waited in line and had to watch person after person take the cell phone out, put a tag on it, place into a bin where it would be held for the day. They should have had a cell phone line and non- cell phone line. Just like Disneyland where the people with bags have to get checked and the people without get to walk right through. Maybe the happiest place on earth is on to something with that. Regardless people will be stupid, so there will always be the need to get frisked and felt up.

Once you enter the grounds and start to walk the course it does give you a great appreciation for the conditions the players battle. On, TV, it's really hard to perceive the blind shots, elevation changes, and breaks in the green. In person, you start to realize that the putt you see from the couch as "straight in" is really nothing of the sort. This is one area where being at an event is truly remarkable. The beauty of the course, the pristine conditions, and the glass-fast greens are prominently on display.

With last years experience behind me, I'll will be sitting at home this week, in the air conditioning. No 100 degree weather with cardboard fans. No wondering whatGÇÖs going on when you hear the roar four holes over.
The unfortunate circumstance at any golf tournament is finding a good seat. A seat where you wouldn't mind sitting for an hour or two. A seat where there will be enough excitement that you don't fall asleep. And of course a seat where you can easily see a scoreboard. Once you find this illusive post, you can settle into the action. Other than the occasional roar from a separate hole that makes you wish you had chosen a different spot to perch, it is actually quite enjoyable. It is interesting watching your favorite pros use various strategies from the similar positions on the course and watching the ball flight of players off the tee can leave you breathless. It really is unbelievable standing right behind the tee box and watching those guys grip it and rip it. Even the "short hitters" on tour leave your mouth hanging open.

The unfortunate part of the day comes towards the end when most of the golfers have finished and there are only two to three groups left on the course. There just isn't enough room to see what's going on. So, if you are unfortunate like me and didn't have the seat on the 18th, you head out and avoid the battle with traffic on the way home. You get back on that stupid school bus, back on the NJ Transit train and back in the car for two-plus hours. By the time you get home you just go to bed. You are too drained to even call a friend and let him know how it was.

With last years experience behind me, I'll will be sitting at home this week, in the air conditioning. No 100 degree weather with cardboard fans. No wondering what's going on when you hear the roar four holes over. I'm going to let CBS be my guide. I'll watch Jim Nance, Nick Faldo and Paul Azinger as they tell me the different nuances of the course. I'll listen to my wife ask me if I'm going to get anything done around the house. By the third time she asks she'll realize the answer is no.

If you ask me golf isn't a sport you have to witness first hand. In fact its probably better if you don't. Let's all stay home. In fact let's all get together and go over to a friend's house. That's all the atmosphere you need. What could possibly be better than chips, a cold beverage, and three other guys? Ok, I may have walked into that one, but seriously, the answer this weekend is NOTHING!

So to answer Shakespeare the answer is: Stay at home. Enjoy the Championship from your couch or from your favorite chair. It'll just be better that way.


[ comments ]
chipotle mg says:
nice article, just watch out for the commercials. this years pga was soo packed i really coudln't stand it. i felt there was more commercials in the pga champ. than any other event i watched televised. my take is you go to 1 event a year, and don't worry if it's not a major.
12/20/07
 
falcon50driver says:
I managed to get a couple of passes to the VIP tent and bleachers behind #16 at the Zurich Open at English Turn a couple of years ago. Free mixed drinks and/or beer and Jambalaya and Crawfish pies as much as you wanted all day. What a great way to watch a tournament.
12/20/07
 
mjaber says:
I've found this is true for alot of sporting events. I hate crowds. I get claustrophobic. There is something special about going to certain places... Fenway Park, Wrigley Field. I imagine going to Augusta for the Master's would be the same way. For the most part, I'd rather stay home and watch in the comfort of my living room, or go to a friends house. I think you get to see alot more.
8/20/09
 
ATEglauer says:
When I attended the 2006 Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines, I stayed in a hotel about 20-25 minutes north of the course. I was up and drove every day to the course, arriving by about 6:00 or 6:30am (I'm an early riser, anyway!). I went from Tuesday through Sunday, but most enjoyed the Tuesday and Wednesday rounds. For the actual tournament rounds, it was difficult to see much, unless you just sat at one spot (I didn't have a grandstand seat ticket). I did that one afternoon and saw most players go through at least once (I sat on the hill behind #2 green and could see a bit of the play on 2, all of the play on 3, the tee shots on 4 and 6, and the approaches and putting on #5. It was a good spot, but it's a popular one! If you can find such a spot, it's a good vantage point (I wasn't overly concerned with leaderboards, especially early in the tournament). I also following some golfers for their entire rounds on one day - Fred Couples and Steven Ames.
8/20/09
 
ATEglauer says:
[continued]
By the time Saturday came around, I had already realized that to "watch the golf tournament", there is no better place than your couch! But, to see a favourite golfer or to experience the atmostphere, the practice rounds, pro-am, and early tournament rounds were well worth attending (in my opinion). I'd recommend it to anyone who has never been - it's an eye-opener how good (even the "worst") these guys are!
8/20/09
 
jbird899 says:
Going is an amazing experience. Went to Bethpage for Open this year and it was amazing!!! It was so well organized, and got to see my favorite players up close. Also you dont understand how loud the roar of the crowd is when you are at home. The crowd erupts for every birdie and its rediculouis when its an impportant putt. If you havent gone to an event, do it!!!!
8/20/09
 
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