As you may or may not know, I am from the Washington, DC area. Arlington, Virginia to be specific. That makes Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland a short 15-20 minute drive and makes this week’s AT&T National a “home game” for me.
This tournament (and the 2011 US Open) are really the only chance I get to see live PGA Tour golf every year. I thought I would put together a little guide for those attending the event. It could most likely apply to other events as well, but I am also curious to hear from you how other tournaments differ from the AT&T National.
Have a plan. I cannot stress this enough, make sure you plan ahead. If this is your first time at a PGA Tour tournament, you may not realize that it is hard to just walk up and see the action. This is especially true towards the end of the tournament when there are less players on the course. But, if you plan ahead, you can get up close and personal with your favorite players. Take a look at tee times. You can get a sheet when you enter the course. Move a few holes ahead of your favorite player and take note of where a majority of tee shots are landing. Park yourself right there and before you know it, you will be face to face with Adam Scott or Rickie Fowler.
Maybe you want to see the last putt of the tournament and subsequent trophy presentation. Well, plan on getting to 18 early. If you are with a group, have one “runner” go get beers or snacks throughout the day. Don’t be the group of people that gets up, comes back, and expects their area to be untouched. Aside from Augusta, it doesn’t happen.
Cash will lead to a better experience. I hate to say this, but if you want the best experience, it’s going to cost you. Now, you don’t have to pay for the double-secret clubhouse ticket, but if you can afford it, hospitality tents are the best. I’ve been lucky enough to be in the 18th fairway tent before at Congressional. Man, is it sweet. You get a great view of the action. There are TVs to check out the play elsewhere on the course and, of course, free food and cocktails. Furthermore, the upgraded bathroom situation cannot be overlooked.
Don’t put away your wallet just yet. At Congressional, the average parking pass will put you in a lot that is quite a long distance from the entrance to the golf course. I imagine it is the same at many pro tourneys. I understand the reasoning. When these country clubs were built they didn’t necessarily anticipate hundreds of thousands of people walking the grounds. That’s fine. I get that.
With that being said, avoid the dreaded shuttle bus. The lines are long and it takes forever. No matter how efficient the process may be, you are still going to wait. So what is the alternative? Pay some cash and park on someone’s front lawn.
As you drive around Congressional, you will see plenty of places to park for anywhere from $25 – $50. While it’s easy to scoff at that number, it’s really not that bad. Split it with your buddies. Plus, you can’t put a price tag on an easy in-and-out parking experience.
Don’t be a clown, bro. This is really for first timers. Understand that golf is being played. Tour pros are very particular about noise, motion, cell phones, pretty much anything. If you are ever in doubt about what you should be doing, sit still and be quiet. The last thing you want is to be tossed out for talking or taking a cell phone picture while someone is swinging away.
Also, you really don’t need to wear golf shoes. You are not going to get called in by a caddie to replace a player. Wear some sneakers for sure, but leave the spikes at home.
To wrap up this section I would recommend two things. First, don’t get too drunk. It’s not fun and you will quickly become obnoxious to other golf fans. And second, wear a lot of sunscreen. Being drunk and sunburned is no way to attend a golf tournament. Trust me, I know.
So, that’s my guide to the AT&T National. What are some tips for tournaments around you?
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