Last weekend, I decided on a whim that it might be fun to play a round of golf, so I grabbed my clubs and headed out to Sedgefield Country Club.
I know I should have called ahead to get a tee time but I didn’t bother, and I have to say, I wish I had, because for some reason the place was absolutely slammed.
I mean, not only were all the tee times taken, but there were rows and rows of gawkers lining the course and, at that point I didn’t care to play anyway; because who wants to play golf in a fishbowl – especially if your swing is as rusty as mine …
Anyway, I asked around and it turns out that all those people weren’t ordinary golf gawkers at all. In fact, they told me, this was the 2017 instantiation of the Greater Greensboro Open (GGO), which, for the 10th year now, is going by the name of “the Wyndham.” After I figured out what was going on, I decided to gawk along with the other people. I headed over to the Irwin Smallwood Media Center where they even had press credentials for me.
Not to mention some swag.
One cool thing about being a reporter is that, when you cover a big sports event like the ACC Tournament or the Wyndham Championship, they always have a present for you – “swag” it’s called – and you never know what you’ll get. A cool jacket? A music player? It really could be almost anything. But, whatever it is, usually you know exactly what it is when they hand it to you.
But when I picked up my media credentials this year at the golf tournament, they handed me a mystery box – a plain white box with absolutely no markings on it anywhere.
I was, needless to say, intrigued and excited, because I love a good mystery and I had never ever covered any event where they just gave you an unmarked box with no clue what was inside. I was like Brad Pitt’s character at the highly charged and traumatic end of the movie Seven when he was screaming, “What’s in the Box? What’s in the Boooooox!?”
I could tell from the size of the box that it wasn’t big enough to contain the severed head of Brad Pitt’s wife; but other than that I had no idea.
What’s in the box?
So I slowwwwwwwwly opened it up and pulled out what was inside and there it was! A shining …
Oh, I could go ahead and tell you what was inside – but what would be the fun in that? I am, instead, using that as a plot device to build column suspense and so, only if you make it to the very end of the column this week, will you ever learn the grand mystery of what was in the box. But I promise that, if you stay to the end, all will be revealed and the baffling mystery will be a mystery no more.
Back when I was growing up, the GGO was in March or April every year and, every year, it would rain like crazy for all four days. So tournament backers moved it to August, which turned out to be a great move in regard to the rain.
Now, about that heat.
Listen, this year every day out there it was hot. I mean hot.
You may ask: How hot was it at the Wyndham? Hot! But just how hot was it? Why, it was so hot that …
• It was so hot outside that, when the Greensboro city councilmembers and county commissioners got together in the elected officials tent, the hot air coming out of their mouths was barely noticeable.
• It was so hot out there that golfers had to use oven mitts to pull the golf balls out of the metal-lined holes.
• Why, it was so hot at the Wyndham this year that, Webb Simpson played the entire final round one-handed because he refused to put down his Dairy Queen Blizzard even while swinging.
• At the tournament, it was so hot News 2’s Eric Chilton, during his midday weather pop, did the broadcast in his underwear and, when he got to the part about the high temperature of the day, he just shouted out over and over again, “You don’t want to know!”
• Why, it was so hot out there that some wasps near the 10th-hole fan pavilion were seen taking off their yellow jackets.
• At the player’s breakfast on Friday, the scrambled eggs entrée had to be scratched from the menu because all the eggs arrived hard-boiled.
• The Front Porch Bar near the clubhouse was selling ice cubes for $10 a pop.
• Why, it was so hot that Jimmy Buffett decided not to come this year because he wanted to “go some place cooler – like the equator– instead.”
• Players requested a Gatorade shower after every hole where they shot par or below.
• Players’ usual shouts of “Fore!” were replaced by shouts of “Four … hundred degrees! It’s $400 %&#-ingdegrees out here!”
So that should give you a rough idea of just how hot it was at the Wyndham this year.
Now the heat was annoying but it did serve a valuable purpose …
I watch a little golf from time to time, but I can’t recognize every pro golfer who’s walking around at the Wyndham unless they’re on the course playing. However, one of the media shuttle drivers told me a sure fire way to tell.
“They must be pro golfers,” he said of two men standing nearby.
They didn’t have golf clubs or anything.
“Oh, do you recognize them?” I asked.
“No, but they’re wearing long pants,” he said, explaining that the only people who would wear long pants were the golfers since the PGA forbid them from wearing shorts.
That made sense and, from that point on, I had no problem identifying the pro golfers walking around out there.
I did some reading on that subject and it turns out that this has been a heated topic in golf circles: Why are women on the LPGA tour allowed to wear shorts, but men playing at a PGA tour event aren’t?
That doesn’t seem right to me in this age of supposed gender equality.
Mark Faller, director of AZCentral Sports explained it this way: “Although virtually every golf association in the world allows players, male or female, to wear shorts during competition, the PGA Tour forbids the practice. The tour calls it an issue of appearance: It wants players to appear professional on the course.”
In most cases they can’t wear jeans, or shirts with no collar either.
Caddies, however, can wear shorts when it’s hot. I read that this was in response to an incident in the late ’90s at the Western Open when a caddy had a heart attack during a summer tournament.
So, anyway, while players hate the long pants rule on weekends like this past one, I like it because I’m finally able to tell the pro golfers from everyone else.
The Wyndham was fantastic this year and they had a good crowd, but I think one thing the tournament organizers need to do is find ways to get more men to come out to watch. Each year, this same thing happens: I go to the Wyndham, have a great time and don’t really notice anything askew as far as male/female disparity in the crowd; however, when I get back to my house or the office and go through the camera roll at the pictures, it becomes crystal clear that the overwhelming number of people who come out to the tournament are women.
On TV they were talking about how well one golfer did to shoot a 61 on Friday. That’s a pretty good score, but I’ve shot rounds in the low 60s on 18 holes before as well – though, admittedly, when I did it, it was on the putt-putt course.
The Wizard of Wyndham seems like a pretty cool guy and all – but, as you can tell by the pictures running with the column this week, the Wiz has a real problem with photo bombing.
The name Wyndham has a great sound to it even if there’s no widely accepted spelling of the word, but, regardless of that, everyone has to admit that it sounds nice. We here in Greensboro lucked out in that regard because some tournaments on the PGA have names with all sorts of problems. Here are a few …
• Phoenix Waste Management Open. I guess you have to find sponsors where you can find them but this name reminds me of the time back in the ’90s when college football bowl games took on every sponsor they could find and you had games like the Poulan Weedeater Wal-Mart Dancing Bare Strip Club Bowl game.
• The PGA’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans has a very confusing name and I’m sure fans don’t even know where to go to watch that event. If you do make a mistake and go to the wrong place, you’d end up not just in the wrong place – but thousands of miles away from where you were supposed to be. They really need to fix that.
• The “Barracuda Championship” is a PGA tournament played in western Nevada each year. It has kind of a cool name but it sounds to me like a tournament where the golfers should try really hard to avoid the water hazards.
• The “Presidents Cup” isn’t a very good name if you think about that phrase in the wrong way.
Each year at the Rhino, we usually write, deservedly so, about what a great job the tournament organizers did and how nice the events staff was to us, and this year was no exception. When I was waiting on the bus to go back to my car, Marshall Long of Christian Tours based in the Hickory area was my driver and, before we left, he was going to enjoy a chocolate chip cookie from Chick-fil-A that the sponsors had given him. He started to have a bite but then he looked back at me and asked me if I wanted some of it.
I said no thanks but Chick-fil-A chocolate chip cookies are about as good as it gets so that was very thoughtful of him to offer.
Oh, I almost forgot: What WAS in the box? You’ve stayed with me all this way and you deserve to finally have the mystery solved.
Why, it was …
Drum roll please …
A very nice high quality large stainless steel coffee cup that says, you guessed it, “Wyndham.”