The 93rd PGA Championship: Atlanta, GA
Casey and I were lucky enough to catch one of the practice rounds of the 93rd PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Georgia. Here are a few pictures from our day at the course and a few reasons why purchasing tickets to a practice round is much more rewarding than the actual tournament just after the jump....
2. Because the tournament is most often held from Thursday through Sunday (weekends) the crowds are much smaller on the weekdays allowing fans to get VERY close to players. This picture above was taken from my cellphone as we were able to nuzzle up right next to Bubba Watson.
3. Not only can you meet your favorite PGA athletes or at least come within an arm's length of them, you can also add to your autograph collection easily! Because practice rounds are much more relaxed, players actually take the time to greet their fans and sign as many autographs as possible (hence the picture of Bubba Watson who took time at each hole to sign his John Hancock). Note: After Tiger Woods was reported to "skip" the practice round on Tuesday by Yahoo! Sports, he later appeared at 3 p.m. (Eastern) to take the course, however he did not sign a single autograph and chose to snub fans as a mass crowd began to follow him on the course. Although the golfer has been through a lot (primarily his fault) it seemed odd that he ignored fans as fans are the essential ingredient to make him marketable again until he returns to "Tiger-form" and starts winning tournaments.
(Tiger Woods effectively and efficiently ignoring his fans at the Atlanta Athletic Club after "staging" his absence)
4. There's no pressure! During tournament play you have to stake out your spot on the bleachers only to hang out at one hole the majority of the day unless you're up to elbowing your way past other fans or content not getting to see your favorite player. Instead of tracking the tournament on your mobile device, you can relax during practice rounds and follow your favorite player with ease or switch it up and follow one through the front nine, and another through the back nine. In our case we were able to follow Bubba Watson and then Tiger Woods once he arrived. Not only could we peruse the course with ease, but we could also sit back, relax and watch the tournament in its entirety on the weekend while we were able to track the majority of players with camera shots only media could receive and enjoy it all in HD.
(Oh hey, Tiger!)
If you happen to be in a city or living in a city with a PGA or major golf tournament than we highly suggest (for the above reasons) attending the practice rounds for a higher reward and less money all while being able to enjoy the actual tournament in the comfort of your own home...on your high definition television.
Lastly, here are a few quirky notes from the practice round we attended:
-The Atlanta Athletic Club is incredible. The facility features multiple courses for the most advanced and elite golfers. The 18th hole of the 93rd PGA Championship was incredible for sponsors (each platinum sponsor outfitted with a tent space across from the lake and the crowd) and extremely challenging for golfers attempting to drive across the pond.
-You can learn a lot just from observing your favorite golfers from afar. Bubba Watson was extremely patient, greeted fans, signed autographs and even signed this fan's poster whom I believe had the best poster out of everyone (featuring the "Golf Boys").
(The "Golf Boys" music video featuring Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Ben Crane and Hunter Mahan)
In addition... Tiger Woods, whom many once looked up to, continues to turn a cold shoulder to his fans. It's a bit of a "Debbie Downer." It's comparible to the first time you get to meet one of your idols that you've held on a pedastool for so long and then you realize they're an absolute disappointment (to put it nicely) in person. It's sad, but also makes you realize you can't idolize athletes, celebrities, or anyone you don't essentially know. The people you should look up to on a daily basis should be friends and family.
-When the outskirts of the the golf course is lined with Mercedes, Lexus, BMW and Bentley vehicles you may feel intimidated once you arrive or feel as if there is no way you can afford ANYTHING in the tournament's pro shop, but that's not the case. In fact the pro shop, the food, the drinks, etc. are all actually reasonably priced for the extravagant tournament. It's comparible to a fraternity or a sorority; once you've paid your dues, everything else seems cheap and easy.
-If you're a high heels kind of gal than this is not the event for you. When attending any sort of golf tournament whether it be a practice round or tournament play you must wear walking shoes. There's a reason why golfers have caddies--don't hold back your friend or significant other because you didn't come prepared to walk and enjoy the experience.
To end this piece, I hope you all like this photo as much as I did when I Googled "Tiger Woods" to link his official website to this article. This photo popped up in Google images and I hope you at least get a simple giggle as I thoroughly enjoyed it.