A tee-to-green viewing party

When you go to a pro golf tournament, be sure to get up close and personal

By Rick Vacek

I love going to baseball games. I’ll go just about anytime, anywhere.

Hockey is a great sport to watch in person. You don’t want to miss a minute.

A good basketball game, especially in a famous arena, is memorable.

Football can be a great experience, starting at the tailgate party.

But unless you have front-row seats, the only place you can get right next to the competitors is at a golf tournament.

If you’ve never watched the pros in action, I urge you to get to the Safeway Open this weekend at Silverado or the Champions Tour event at Sherwood Country Club later this month.

But just as important as getting there is having a viewing strategy. You want to pick a hole that’s going to be interesting, and, most of all, you want to get as close as possible.

First things first: Stake out a tee box and watch how far these guys hit a driver. The clubhead speed is unbelievable even though they don’t look as if they’re swinging that hard.

The minute you see a ball bounce into trouble, get right behind it so you can see how the pro negotiates his way back into play. Listen to his conversation with his caddie. Watch the way he curves the shot around or up and over a tree.

Don’t miss the show around the green. This is where you really see the magic. They get up and down with regularity. They’re money out of the bunker. And their putting – their ability to read the green and put the proper pace on the ball – is educational.

Some people like to just stake out one spot and stay there all day, but I contend that you’re missing out when you do that. There’s so much more to see.

I like to see as much of the golf course as I can. I want to watch how they play the toughest hole. I want to see them go for it with their second shot on a par-5. And I want to learn from their successes as well as their occasional mistakes.

But, mainly, I just want to see as many shots as I can. Unlike other sports events, there aren’t any long intermissions or timeouts. You can bounce from one hole to the next and see shot after shot. On some courses, you can get to a vantage point where you can watch multiple holes at the same time.

And here’s another way that the golf viewing party is superior: Even if the tournament is a blowout, you still can see a lot of interesting things.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m one of those people who stays to the end no matter what, but the final minutes or innings of other sports can be a snooze if the game is one-sided.

Not golf. Our great game always has a lot going on. If there isn’t a tight fight on the leaderboard, you still can pick an interesting hole and keep track of who plays it best. Or you still can just get real close and admire how these guys move the ball.

So go ahead and enjoy other sports in person. I sure do. But don’t miss the show on the golf course. It’s a day to remember.



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